In the Garden: Help lawns beat the heat

Is the recent heat wave browning your once lush lawn? In a web conference, Rich Martinez, vice president of environmental stewardship at Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. in Marysville, offered several lawn care tips for surviving the sweltering sun:

• Mow high—Taller grass will have a deeper, more extensive root system that will help withstand summer stresses. Taller grass also provides more shade to cool the soil and reduce evaporation.

• Leave clippings on the lawn—Clippings decompose and return valuable organic matter to the lawn. They also act as a light mulch to conserve soil moisture.

• Feed regularly—While it’s too late to fertilize now, make a note for next spring. Martinez says well-fed grass uses water more efficiently, allowing it to better absorb water and nutrients, establish deeper roots and help retain moisture.

• Choose drought-tolerant varieties—Heat-tolerant bluegrass varieties and premium tall fescues are two cool season grasses designed to withstand hot summer conditions under lower maintenance regimes.

• Water in the morning—If irrigation is necessary, experts recommend watering early in the day. In the afternoon, heat and winds cause water to evaporate faster, requiring more water.

Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden

If your seeds for a summer vegetable garden are still tucked in a drawer, take heart. Early August is a great time to plant cool season vegetables for a fall harvest.

Vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, bok choy, radishes, turnips and early beets even favor cooler temperatures. Their flavors are often sweeter and milder than those grown during hotter times.

When planting seeds in mid-summer, remember to keep the soil evenly watered to ensure they germinate. A piece of cardboard can be used to cover the ground until the seeds sprout and later angled to shade the new seedlings.

Teresa Woodard is a volunteer with the Madison County Master Gardeners. Send questions and gardening news items to Madison@columbusmessenger.com or call 740-852-0809.

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