We are entering the busiest time of year. Beginning in September, there will be much to do. Leaves... it’s that time of year again to begin saving leaves. We will have an abundance this year. It is too dry and many trees and shrubs have already started to shed their leaves. Many of the plants and shrubs may not come back next season, unless they receive moisture. Use the leaves in walks, in the garden for mulch, mix with soil to build humus, and add to the compost pile. Leaves help cool the soil and help to keep weeds from germinating, so don’t bag them and place them in the trash.
This is the season to add more shade in the sunny areas where you are having problems with the lawn. If you have more lawn than you have water, plant trees, large shrubs or add hardscapes to the area. Change your landscape for a more Xeriscape look, using drought-tolerant plants. For mulch, use different size gravel, rocks, and lava and crushed granite for water conservation. Look in books, and visit neighbors’ yards and nurseries to decide which look you would rather have. A pond in the landscape is a wonderful addition and it doesn’t take any more water than it would to have a lawn the same size.
While you are planting, consider some of the fall-blooming flowers like Mexican bush sage, Copper Canyon daisy, thryliss, fall asters, lilies, Mexican mint marigold, chrysthemums, blue plumbago, and many salvias. These are hardy perennials.
Many annuals may be planted now. Marigold and zinnias can still be seeded; let some go to seed and they will reseed the following spring. Many plants that will go through the first frost and a light freeze are: ornamental cabbage and kale, dianthus, snapdragons, nasturtiums, lobelia, stock, nicotiana, cornflower, and alyssum. Add some of these bloomers to your vegetable garden and it will help bring in pollinators.
Many gardeners are having a problem with their okra being eaten by aphids and fire ants. The fire ants bring the aphids and when they die or leave, the aphids leave honeydew on the plants and that is food for the ants. Spray the okra with a heavy stream of water. This will usually rid the plants of aphids and treat the ant mounds with a bait.