Planting season lasts all summer long

By Tim Johnson
Chicago Botanic Garden
Posted7/8/2018 6:00 AM
  • Raccoons and skunks will dig in lawns to look for grubs to eat. This is often the first visible sign of grubs.

    Raccoons and skunks will dig in lawns to look for grubs to eat. This is often the first visible sign of grubs. Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

Installation of plant material can continue through the summer. Try to keep plants moist before planting to minimize stress on the new plant material.

Containerized plants can sometimes be difficult to remoisten if they are planted dry. Be sure they have been watered before planting. Plants that are grown in containers have a lighter growing medium that will generally dry out more quickly than your garden soil, so they will need more frequent watering until their roots grow out into the surrounding soil.

Newly installed balled-and-burlapped plants need about 1 inch of water a week. The amount and frequency of watering will vary depending on the soil conditions in your garden and weather conditions. Sandy, very well-drained soils will dry out more quickly than heavier clay loam soils.

• Grubs can be a problem in lawns in some years but are not something I worry much about. The adult beetles will be attracted to irrigated lawns that are surrounded by dry lawns for their egg laying in early summer. With all the rain this year, most all lawns will be desirable for this insect so there is less likely to be concentrated populations in any one area.

If the season is dry and you are the only one watering the lawn in the immediate area, you will have a greater chance of having grubs. Your lawn may or may not have a problem with grubs this year so deciding not to apply grub control will not necessarily result in a grub infestation.

Typically, when there are eight to 12 grubs per square foot, visible damage will occur as they feed on the roots of the grass. The lawn will brown out later in season when hot and dry weather increases stress on the lawn. Raccoons and skunks will dig in lawns for the grubs -- this is often the first sign of grubs.

Be sure to read the insecticide label carefully to make sure you are using the right product at the right time of year. Products designed to prevent grubs are generally applied late June to mid-July.

Some of the grub controls that are applied for preventive control in June or July contain a systemic insecticide that can be taken up by adjacent flowering plants and kill bees and other non-target insects. There are options to choose for quick kill of grabs in late summer or early fall when they reach a threshold that causes damage.

There is no need to control a small number of grubs that the lawn can withstand. I have had minor grub damage only once in ten years in my lawn and it was not bad enough to require treating.

• Weeds growing between cracks in brickwork or sidewalks are unsightly but easy to eliminate. Treat them with a nonselective herbicide when they are small to avoid having to pull them out by hand.

• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden,

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