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Things to do in August

Here are timely things to do in August:

TURF-TYPE THINGS

GET THAT GRUB. Milky Spore comes in a ready-use, lawn-spreader mix; a 20-pound bag treats 7,000 square feet. How does Milky Spore work? A few weeks after the first application, the first grubs ingest the natural bacteria and die; it can take 12-18 months for noticeable results. The decaying worms release new Milky Spore into the soil. This happens year after year, making Milky Spore viable for 10-15 years. The bacteria affects Japanese beetle grubs along with other common lawn grubs. It can be used in vegetable gardens and around ponds, wells and streams.

Use Milky Spore only if you have a severe grub infestation; your lawn will brown in large irregular patches and roll up easily like a piece of carpet. The grubs feed on turf roots. Adults do not damage the lawn but the females lay eggs in the soil. Do not use Milky Spore where insecticides have been used. The product does not harm earthworms like pesticides can. Available at most local gardening and hardware stores. Call St. Gabriel Laboratories, Gainesville, Va., 1-800-801-0061 or see www.milkyspore.com

AQUA TURF. Fight hard clay, fight standing water in your lawn and garden with Aqua Turf. This biodegradable, nontoxic liquid opens up tiny channels between particles of clay so water can work its way deep into the soil. Since Aqua Turf works best in the first 1 feet of soil, it keeps moisture at the root zone of plants without drowning them. $14.95 for 32 ounces to cover 8,000 square feet. Virginia Beach Feed & Seed, Virginia Beach, and True Value Hardware, York County.

LAWNS

Cool-season fescue

Aug. 15-Sept. 15, fertilize, using 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Example: 10 pounds of 10-10-10 or 12 pounds or 8-8-8 per 1,000 square feet of the equivalent of other fertilizers.

Mow with a mulching mower, cutting only the top third of the grass blade. Grass clippings left on the lawn provide a third to half of the nutrient needs of grass. Clippings decompose quickly, thanks to earthworms and soil micro-organisms, and do not contribute to thatch accumulation.

If your lawn is 40 percent or more weeds, kill off the entire lawn with a product such as Round-Up before aerating, seeding and fertilizing this fall.

Read the product's label for instructions on how many weeks you must wait before applying seed; these kill-all products can inhibit the germination of seed.

If your lawn is merely spotted with weeds, spot treat your lawn with a product such as Round-Up.

Warm-season turf

Weed control: Apply a combination of 2,4-D and dicamba or MCPP herbicide to control summer broad-leaf weeds, if needed.

Fertilize, applying equivalent of 1 to 1 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet; omit on zoysia.

Water as needed; avoid night watering so turf "dries off" before night.

Disease, insect alert: these grasses are not disease or insect prone.

PRUNING

Prune beech, linden, rose, sumac, sweetshrub.

Tip prune vigorous new growth and other vines to keep them in tree form or from getting out of control. This also helps them set more flower buds on short spur-like branches along the main stems. Additional fertilizer high in potassium (K) also helps slow vegetative growth and increases flower production.

ODDS & ENDS

More on lawn care

FREE FAX.  For a free fax on more things to do around your home and garden, call the Daily Press 1-Line, 757-928-1111, category 4760.

Divide and transplant iris. Plant 12 to 24 inches apart, placing them so tops of rhizomes are exposed and roots are spread out, facing downward in the soil.

To clean oil-based paint or stain off your hands, rub vegetable oil on them while the paint is still wet.

To clean the spaces between deck boards or expansion joints in a sidewalk, insert a "screw-in" hook into the end of a broom and drag the hook through the cracks. The hook pulls out debris you can easily sweep up.

Check and remove suckers on crape myrtles, crab apples, snowbells and other trees prone to suckering.

Take cuttings of your favorite tropicals and annuals to create stock plants for next summer's display. Root them indoors or outdoors.

Spray your monarda, phlox, roses, lilacs and other plants prone to mildew with an ultra-refined horticultural oil to give them a glossy shine and to kill mildew.

Sources: Virginia Cooperative Extension (www.ext.vt.edu) , The Family Handyman magazine ( www.familyhandyman.com ), The Garden Club of America, Norfolk Botanical Garden ( www.virginiagarden.org ).

August 2001

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