July Hints

Lawns:  Now that the soil is as saturated as it probably will be this winter, apply gypsum to improve the texture of most soils. Gypsum has the action of causing clay particles to aggregate and form bigger lumps, increasing void space in the soil and improving drainage. Gypsum will assist to overcome the tendency of many garden ‘loams’ to water-log readily and become hard setting when dry.

Kikuyu lawns will green up with a very light application of water soluble nitrogen – 1 to 2 grams of N per square metre plus an equal amount of Potassium is plenty at this time of the year. Couch is fully dormant so there is little point in fertilising it now as it is unable to absorb the nutrient. Respect the fact that it needs a period of dormancy.

Toward the end of July is usually a good time to prune roses in Adelaide. The best way to determine ‘when’ is when buds half way along the canes begin to swell. Usually some of the tip buds have already burst and produced small leaves, but ignore these and only look at buds half way up the stem.

You can search our database to find a contractor in your area to carry out these tasks for you.

Lawn Weeds Are Often Signals:  If weeds are growing in your lawn, this may indicate a problem. In order to grow and compete with weeds, lawns require light, water, nutrients, air and proper temperature. If even one of these basic needs is missing, the quality of your lawn may rapidly decline and weeds may prevail.

Each weed in your lawn produces many viable seeds. You help weeds out with close mowing. Extended drought and high or low temperature extremes injure lawns, too.

The best defense against troublesome weeds is a healthy, dense and actively growing lawn. You create this type of lawn by mowing often at the right height, fertilising and liming according to soil test results and core aerating to reduce soil compaction. You can increase the amount of light reaching your lawn under tall, isolated trees by pruning limbs below 3 metres. Air movement across the surface of your lawn may improve by thinning, transplanting or eliminating selected shrubs growing nearby.

Increasing attention is being paid to autumn fertilising of warm season turfgrasses. The aim is not to extend grass growth further into winter, but to provide adequate nutrition that will enable the turfgrass to emerge from dormancy with a vigorous spring green-up that retains root dominance. We want new feeder roots even more than we want lush shoots. Old ideas of bringing grasses out of dormancy with massive doses of nitrogen in spring are being superceded by judicious applications of potassium nitrate in autumn.

You can search our database to find a contractor in your area for further advice.

In a domestic lawn, hybrid couch grasses are especially prone to thatching when mown at the customary two week schedule. The hybrid couches were really designed for high maintenance golf greens where daily mowing is considered normal.  Thatch development is a natural consequence of grass growth. In nature it is an ecological adaptation that allows for nutrient recycling and the retention of moisture in the root zone.

When the grasses are maintained as turf through regular mowing, the natural growth cycle is disturbed.  An acceptable depth of thatch is 15% of the mowing height.

If your lawn feels spongy to walk on, or if mowing leaves yellow “scalped” patches, contact your local ALMA contractor for professional, affordable dethatching, also known as scarifying.

Cherry slugs are active now on pears, cherry, cotoneaster and quince. Leaves are skeletonised by the larvae leaving a fine network of veins. They are the larvae of a small wasp. The slug-like appearance of the larva gives the pest its common name. When fully grown it is about 8mm long, and swollen towards the head end.

Two applications of an appropriate chemical, timed to coincide with larval emergence, should be sufficient for control. Contact your local ALMA professional contractor.

Citrus: Leaf yellowing from the tip of the leaf at this time is usually caused by nitrogen deficiency in cold soils. Apply a complete mineral fertiliser with trace elements at a rate of 150g per square metre.