August Yard and Garden Checklist

The heat is on, and yards and gardens are trying to keep up with high temperatures and drought conditions. Consider these tips from the USU Extension Gardeners Almanac to help your garden succeed this month. Also included are links for further information.

  • Beginning in early August, plant selected cool season vegetables for a fall harvest.
  • Deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms of perennial and annual flowers. 
  • Deep water established trees and shrubs about once per month during the heat of summer.
  • With limited water due to the drought, turfgrass should be the last priority for watering. Priorities include (in order of importance) trees, bushes, perennials, annuals and turfgrass. Click here for more information.  Click here to learn about irrigation needs in your area.

Pests and Problems:

  • Check under leaves of pumpkins, melons and squash plants for squash bugs.
  • Watch for mosaic virus in vine crops, and remove infected plants to reduce the spread.
  • Watch for holes from tobacco budworm feeding in the leaves of petunias, necotiana, geraniums and other annual flowers.
  • Protect black locust trees (not honey locust) with a registered chemical to prevent locust borer damage.
  • Control codling moth in apples and pears to reduce wormy fruit. For specific timing, see our Utah Pests Advisories.
  • Control for walnut husk fly in walnuts, peaches and apricots between August 1 and 15.
  • Learn how to identify a hobo spider.
  • Control European paper wasp with traps this time of year.
  • Monitor for damaging turfgrass insects.

To see a video on gardening tips for August, click here. To learn more gardening tips and tricks, visit garden.usu.edu. For drought information, visit drought.usu.edu.

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month by Spending Time Outdoors

Research shows that spending time in nature promotes physical and emotional health. Since July is National Park and Recreation Month, consider celebrating it by spending more time outdoors. Whether you take a break outside during the workday, visit a park in the evening or hike a nature trail on the weekend, the benefits are numerous. And when time outside is paired with activity, mental and physical health improve more than when compared to doing indoor activities. So – take it outside!

Benefits of spending time in nature include a decrease in high blood pressure, anxiety, negative thinking and lowered levels of depression and stress. Studies also show that outside time is associated with better cognitive development, and spending time in parks generally translates to being more physically active.

The takeaway? Getting active in the great outdoors can do wonders for overall well-being. Consider these ideas to include more outside time in your day. 

* At work: Be intentional with breaks.Whether you pencil in regular breaks once every two hours or take advantage of any downtime, head outside for a brain boost. Recruit a coworker and do a lap around your building, pop in your headphones and explore a nearby neighborhood, or take your lunch to the park. 

* At home: Add outdoor time to routines.Many of us have morning or evening routines that help us get through the week. Look at your routines to see where you can add some outside time. Go on a family walk after dinner, spend time in your garden or practice a mindful exercise outside.

* Want something new? Join a Park RX Utah contest for an outdoor opportunity.Do you already spend time outside, but you’re looking for something new? Visit Park RX Utah to participate in a contest designed to get you outside, or check out their Outdoor Opportunities calendar to find an event near you. 

Still looking for more ideas? Check out this article by Eva Timothy, USU Extension assistant professor, Improving Health Through Time Spent in Nature

By: Emma Parkhurst, Utah State University Extension assistant professor – health and wellness, Emma.Parkhurst@usu.edu

Water Storage Tips

The average human body is 65 percent water — an element essential for survival. Water helps blood flow and carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, flushes waste products from the body, cushions tissues and joints and is a critical component for digestion.

Because water is fundamental for daily life, providing for water needs in the event of an emergency should be a top priority.  

According to Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension educator, with the drought on everyone’s minds, now is a great time to design a family preparedness plan that includes water storage.

“Each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day,” she said. “For home storage, include at least a 2-week supply of water for each person for drinking and sanitation. If you own a pet, be aware of how much it drinks each day and include that amount in your storage.

Hunsaker said water should be stored in containers such as food-grade plastic or glass jars, including quart canning jars.

“Many people bottle water in their empty canning jars,” she said. “It’s a simple way to use canning jars for another purpose. The downside is the bottles can break, but many people place them in canning boxes with dividers to protect them. You can process the bottled water in a canner for 20 minutes and have a sterile source of water in storage.”

Hunsaker said two-liter plastic soda pop bottles also work well, as do 5, 10 or 55-gallon containers specifically for water storage.

“Previously used juice and milk containers won’t work since food proteins are difficult to remove, and the grade of plastic is generally not adequate,” she said. “Water bottles purchased in cases from the store work well for short-term storage of 1-2 years.”

 Hunsaker said it is important to avoid storing plastic containers directly on concrete or dirt since they will absorb odors, which won’t affect the safety of the water, but it can affect the taste.

“When you are filling water storage containers with tap water, you won’t need to treat the water prior to storage since city water already provides a sanitation treatment,” she said.

Hunsaker said in the event of an emergency, water will need to be treated if it comes from a non-sterile source such as wells, rivers, rainwater, etc. Below are several suggested treatment methods, based on information from Carolyn Washburn, retired USU Extension professor.

* Chemical treatment – Using concentrated, (6 percent) unscented chlorine bleach, add 8 drops per gallon (less than 1/8 tsp), or 2 drops per quart. Be aware that nearly all liquid chlorine bleach is now concentrated and that amounts required for treatment are LESS than in previous years when bleach was not concentrated (3 percent). After adding bleach, let the water stand for 30 minutes. For cloudy water, use 24 drops per 2 gallons (4 drops per quart). If water is still cloudy, repeat the dosage, and let stand another 15 minutes. If it is still cloudy at that point, it is not safe to drink and should be disposed. Water treated with chlorine should have a slight bleach odor. If it does not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times. Beware of expiration dates on bleach. If it is older than 4 months, it should not be used as a water purifying agent. Bleach will dissipate after 1 year. 

* Heat treatment – Boil water for 5 to 10 minutes. The water bath method for glass jars provides sterilization and indefinite shelf life. Fill clean, sterilized jars and boil in a water bath for 15-20 minutes.  

* Other forms of water treatment are iodine, water purification tablets, distillation and filtration. 

* Additional emergency sources of water include potable water from pipes, water heaters and ice cube trays. However, water from swimming pools, toilet tanks or waterbeds should not be used for drinking because of the chemicals that have been added. 

“When potable or drinkable water is properly disinfected and stored in ideal conditions, it should have an indefinite shelf life,” Hunsaker said. “However, to maintain the optimum quality  and avoid a possible stale taste, it is best to rotate the water every 6 months.” 

For further information and tips on preparedness, visit extension.usu.edu/preparedness.

Writer: Julene Reese, 435-757-6418, Julene.reese@usu.edu

Contact: Teresa Hunsaker, (801) 399-8200Teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu

With Proper Care, Drought Won’t Permanently Damage Yards

Utah is currently in one of the worst droughts since recording began in the late 1800s. Many reservoirs are at an all-time low, and some are drying up completely. Because of this, a statewide alarm was sounded by the governor asking the public to conserve water.

Many areas in central and northern Utah are being asked to irrigate lawns no more than twice a week, and in southern Utah, no more than three times a week. An irrigation cycle is considered 20 minutes for pop-up sprinklers and 40 minutes for impact rotor sprinklers.

Even with this reduced irrigation schedule, lawns can stay fairly green but will develop brown patches; however, the brown patches do not mean the lawn is dying. Lawns go dormant with excessive heat and reduced water, which means the roots and crowns are alive and healthy even though the blades turn brown and stop growing. Lawns can survive in a dormant state with as little as ½ to 1 inch of irrigation monthly.

After the last severe drought ended, Utah State University Extension horticulturists saw a wide variety of trees and shrubs with disease and pest infestations – particularly pine and spruce trees. To prevent this from happening again, it’s important to care for the most important assets in your yard. Consider these tips.

* Trees and shrubs should be given top priority – not only because they are the most expensive plants to buy, but they also add the most value to a landscape. In 2013, California researchers found that trees and shrubs that shade or partially shade lawns in dry climates can help decrease overall water needs. The canopies decrease both the amount of direct sun that reaches the lawn and the temperature, which can help lower the amount of water lost to evaporation. Healthy trees in a landscape could potentially raise a home’s value anywhere from 3 to 20% and reduce heating and cooling needs by 20 to 50%.

* Some homeowners have decided to let their lawns go dormant to further reduce their water consumption. In these situations, it is imperative that trees receive irrigation at least twice monthly with water that penetrates 18 inches into the soil. To do this, hose-end sprinklers under a tree’s canopy work well. Irrigate for a couple of hours, take a break for another few hours, then water again in order to get water deep enough.

* Recognize that due to the drought, no landscapes will look perfect this year. Brown spots in the lawn are part of living in a desert in the summer, and that’s okay. Turf is tough and can handle being a little thirsty. Just remember to give your trees occasional extra water to keep them healthy through this year’s heat and for years to come.

By: Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, taun.beddes@usu.edu

Five Tips to Help Trees Thrive During Drought

Trees provide cooling shade that helps reduce temperatures and energy bills, and they are an essential part of our landscapes. As the drought persists and we continue to cut back on lawn watering, it is critical that we remember to take care of our trees. While a brown lawn will come back easily if water is available next year, an under-watered tree may die and it will take decades for another tree to replace it.  Consider this information to keep trees thriving. 

1.  Determine moisture levels. Trees and shrubs need deeper, more extensive root systems than turfgrass, and they should be watered slowly and for longer periods of time than other plants. To save water and have healthy trees, withhold water until just before water stress occurs. This will depend on conditions, but will be approximately every few weeks. Leaf wilting and scorching are symptoms of water stress, indicating you may have waited too long between watering. Stress levels are different for different tree types, so take the time to learn about your specific tree’s water needs.

2.  To get deep, wide root systems, soil should be kept moist to a depth of 18-20 inches for trees and shrubs. To determine soil moisture under your trees, use a long screwdriver or metal rod as a moisture probe. The probe will easily penetrate moist soil but will stop when it hits dry soil. As for the width of the root area to be watered, wider is better, and a tree’s roots will extend out a distance close to its height as long as water is available, so consider watering an area two-thirds of this distance.

3. Make sure your irrigation methods and equipment match the tree’s needs. Test your sprinklers by catching water in cans scattered around the irrigated area for a set amount of time. Small sprinkler heads that send a mist out can put out more water than you would expect, but if you don’t irrigate long enough, you may not provide enough water to get past the grass roots. 

4. Water by hand with a hose. This can be an efficient way to water if it is applied slowly enough to be absorbed by the soil. Consider placing a soaker hose or sprinkler turned on low over the tree roots during the coolest part of the day for 2-hour intervals every few weeks. 

5. The amount of water needed for a tree depends on the weather and the tree’s drought tolerance. About one-half to 1 inch of water may be required weekly for shrubs and smaller trees with up to a 4-inch trunk diameter. Large trees may require hundreds of gallons of water per week. It is difficult to water trees adequately with a drip irrigation system because trees may need greater amounts of water than the low flow systems can put out. For newly planted trees and shrubs, water frequently until the root system is established. Mulch and control weeds and grasses around the trunk to reduce evaporation and competition for water. 

Trees are long-lived friends that have countless benefits. In our dry climate, they depend on us to supply water to keep them alive and thriving. It is especially important that we take care of them now so they will be important parts of our communities for many years to come. 

By: Darren McAvoy, Darren.mcavoy@usu.edu and Mike Kuhns, Mike.kuhns@usu.edu Utah State University Forestry Extension

Four Tips for Summer Safety

Many families are heading outdoors for recreation and activities. Whether in the pool or park, the ballfield or backyard, take precautionary measures so all family members are safe from sun, insects and injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a portion of their website dedicated to family health. A summary of their tips for family summer safety are included below. For additional information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0517-eight-tips-healthy-summer.html.

Tip 1. Master water safety. Swimming in the pool and playing in the sprinklers are favorite summer activities. However, drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4. Water safety tips from CDC include:

·   Carefully watch young children in and around water.

·   Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.

·   Learn CPR. Knowing this skill can be critical in a time of need.

·   Install a four-sided fence around home pools.

·   Wear a properly fitted life jacket when boating.

            Tip 2. Beat the heat and sun. Overheating and sunstroke can occur in healthy children, youth and adults if they participate in strenuous activities during hot weather. If someone shows signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, move him or her to a cool location and seek medical help.

To avoid over-heating:

·   Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked.

·   Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

·   Schedule outdoor activities in the morning and evening hours.

·   Keep cool with cool showers or baths.

A few serious sunburns can lead to skin cancer in the years ahead. Tanning is the skin’s way of trying to protect itself from harmful UV rays from the sun. To prevent sunburn:

·   Cover up. Clothing that covers the skin helps protect against UV rays.

·   Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

            Tip 3: Keep ticks and mosquitos from causing harm. Protect yourself and your family from bites and diseases. Zika, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease can all be transmitted by insects. To help with protection:

·   Use an effective insect repellent. Products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some natural oils provide long-lasting protection.

·   Some pesticides (acaricides) can reduce the number of ticks, but these should not be relied on for providing full protection.

·   Check yourself and your children for ticks after being outdoors, especially if you have been camping or hiking. Instructions for effectively removing ticks are available on the CDC website.

            Tip 4:Prevent injuries. Falls at home and on the playground are common causes of visits to the emergency room. To avoid injury:

·   Be sure playgrounds are well maintained and have soft landing areas.

·   Wear appropriate protective gear when participating in summer sports.

·   Learn to perform basic first aid.

           Enjoy fun in the sun, but make safety a priority so that summer is incident and accident free.

By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or 435-586-8132

How Does Your Garden Grow? Tips for July

It can be a challenge to keep gardens growing well as summer heats up, so Utah State University Extension provides a Gardener’s Almanac to help. The almanac  provides a checklist of tasks with tips, links and further information.

July Checklist

·         Start enjoying the tomato harvest.

·         Side dress (fertilize) potatoes in the garden with nitrogen in early July.

·         Harvest summer squash and zucchini when they are still small and tender.

·         Deep water established trees and shrubs about once per month during the heat of summer.

·         Deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms of perennial and annual flowers.

·         Divide crowded iris or daylilies once they have finished blooming.

·         Remove water sprouts (vertical shoots in the canopy) of fruit trees to discourage regrowth and reduce shading.

·         Renovate perennial strawberry beds by tearing out old crowns (mother plants) and applying fertilizer to stimulate new runners.

Pests and Problems

·         If tomatoes are not producing, it could be due to hot weather (95°F and above), which causes flower abortion.

·         Blossom end rot  (black sunken areas on the end of tomatoes) is common and is caused by uneven watering.

·         Check under leaves of pumpkins, melons and squash plants for squash bugs.

·         Treat corn for corn earworm.

·         Spider mites prefer dry, hot weather and affect many plants. Treat for spider mites by using “softer” solutions such as spraying them with a hard stream of water or by using an insecticidal soap. Spider mites can be easily identified. Shake leaves over a white piece of paper, and if the small specs move, you have mites.

·         Control codling moth in apples and pears to reduce wormy fruit. For specific timing, see our Utah Pests Advisories.

·         Historically, control of the greater peach tree borer in peaches, nectarines and apricots occurs the first of July. However, for specific timing, see our Utah Pests Advisories.

·         Click here for instructions on how to submit a sample to the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab.

·         Watch for symptoms of turfgrass diseases.

·         Monitor for damaging turfgrass insects.

·         For drought information, click here. For information from the Center for Water-Efficient Landscaping, click here.

To see a video of the July Gardener’s Almanac tips, click here. To learn more gardening tips and tricks, click here.

By: JayDee Gunnell, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, Jaydee.gunnell@usu.edu