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After four or five months of growing, many landscape beds are probably in need of a good weeding and edging. Most plantings would benefit from a late summer renovation. This would include hand pulling the annual weeds and grasses and spraying a contact herbicide on the tough perennial weeds and grasses, if you have any.
Speaking of spraying weeds, Joe Neal, Extension horticulture weed specialist from N.C. State University, cautions everyone to spray weeds during their peak growth phase instead of when the weeds appear to be stressed, whether from drought or other types of stress. Many chemicals used to control weeds must be translocated throughout the plant.
Before spraying weeds, you may want to make sure they are in good growing condition to maximize the affect of the herbicide. You may actually have to water the weeds whenever drought conditions prevail to control the weed. That sounds preposterous, but that is right. Water them so they can die completely. You may think you are finishing the weakened weed off, but actually you may be wasting time, effort and money.
Here are some other tips to consider doing at this time of year:
•Perennials and most woody plants can stand a tip pruning or even a heading back trim. Some perennials will probably need staking. Exception: Azaleas are establishing next year’s flowering buds at this time. Be sure not to remove the newly forming flower buds.
•Re-edge the plant beds, apply a pre-emergent herbicide if necessary and add a fresh layer of mulch.
•Continue to work on your weed problems since they use available soil moisture that your desired plants need. This is especially helpful during drought to maximize the efficiency of your irrigation.
•Plan ahead for next year. Take a soil sample.
By late July, many bedding plants that were installed in May have had it. Now that it is August, you may want to consider renovating these beds with a fresh planting of the following excellent fall blooming perennials:
Sage (Salvia madrensis), Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), New England Aster (Aster nova-angliae), Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus), Tartarian Aster (Aster tartaricus), Cosmos (Bright Lights, Early Wonder, Imperial Pink), Zinnia (Goodness, Torch), Marigold Tagetes (Snowdrift), Cleome (Cherry Queen), Annual Vinca (Pretty in Rose) and Alyssum (Cheers Rose).