Enjoy This Rare August Stretch of Cool Weather

We have been blessed with the longest stretch of “cool” weather I can ever remember in August across Oklahoma with most mornings and evenings the last couple of weeks feeling more like fall than summer. We are already seeing these cooler temperatures resulting in new growth on many of our vegetables and flowers. It is also causing a new wave of buds and flowers on many plants from rose bushes to petunias and geraniums. These ten degrees under normal temperatures also cause many of our flowers to be more intense in color producing redder reds and pinker pinks than we achieved through the hottest parts of summer when the higher night temperatures can cause many of the colors to look pale or bleached out. Now through fall is a special time in the garden to enjoy the plants you have grown since spring as they reach maximum size for the growing season and produce this extra spurt of growth and flowers over these last nine to ten weeks of this growing season.

There are many things to do in the yard as we enjoy this fall weather in August. You can complete your fall vegetable garden planting of the semi hardy or cool season root and leaf crops. You can still plant radishes, beets, leek, parsnip, carrots, lettuce, kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and Swiss chard for harvest this fall and early winter. This is the start of the season to plant cool season grasses like tall fescue and annual or perennial ryegrass seed. If you just want to cover the ground until next spring or summer because of new construction, plant annual rye grass to prevent erosion and dust and to hold the soil until you can plant your permanent warm season lawn early next growing season. If you want a green lawn this winter you can overseed your existing Bermuda grass or warm season lawn with tall fescue between now and mid October to provide a green winter lawn that will fade out in the warm weather to your main Bermuda grass or warm season lawn. Tall fescue varieties like CrossFire III, Rebel 4, Millenium, Hounddog 6, Rembrandt and many other good varieties do a nice job to green up full sun lawns through the winter and early spring before they succumb to the heat and droughts of our Oklahoma summers. Tall fescue does perform well through the summer in shady areas. The young grass seed will do best if seeded with a lawn starter type fertilizer or you can apply fertilizer soon after germination. The grass seed will usually germinate in seven to twelve days and generally requires eight to ten pounds per 1000 square feet on bare ground or four to five pounds per 1000 square feet when you overseed an existing lawn. You will need to water lightly almost daily until the seed has germinated then you should water less often but deeper.

This is also the season to apply pre-emergent weed killers or herbicides to control winter grasses and weeds in your garden and lawn. The best time to apply a pre-emergent weed killer is two to three weeks before weed seed germination and most pre-emergents will remain effective for six to sixteen weeks after application. You can apply a herbicide only or you can apply a weed and feed type product to fertilize your desired lawn and plants while killing the weed seeds as they try to germinate. You can apply most of these pre-emergents as either a granular or liquid. The most important thing to achieve good control of annual bluegrass, henbit, chickweed and the other winter weeds is proper timing and getting good coverage. Annual weeds and grasses are usually easier to control than the perennial weeds and grasses that can more easily come back from the underground roots, rhizomes or nuts.

If you are planning fall parties, family events or just time on the porch or patio there is still time to do new plantings to create a festive and fun atmosphere in your flower beds and decorative containers. Enjoy this surprisingly cooler weather. It may be a long time until we can enjoy so much comfortable time outside in August again.

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