Tips From Toby: Mulch & Mites

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This recent heat wave is turning the lawns pretty brown around Kansas City. This is the time to make sure your valuable plants and shrubs are not a victim of the heat too.

A layer of mulch protects the plants and soil from the heat and acts as an insulation barrier. When soil is unprotected by mulch it can leave a skin and the water will just run right off. 

Make sure that you have two to three inches of fresh mulch around plants, trees and shrubs. This will also help protect your foundation so that the soil doesn't expand and contract which can lead to cracks.

Keep in mind when mulching do not mulch any deeper than two to three inches and keep the mulch away from the stems of the plant.

You should be watering both your lawn and landscape about 2 inches per week right now, and since Mother Nature is not providing any rain, it's time to get out the sprinklers or risk losing some valuable plants.

While you're checking out your plants, this heat is the perfect environment for spider mites. If you have a plant where the leaves are turning a speckled yellow, green and then turning brown and dying back you need to do a spider mite test.

Hold a white piece of paper underneath the leaves and tap on the branches. If you see small specs that look like dust that are moving, you have spider mites! 

Apply a summer horticultural oil with a pump sprayer per instructions. You'll need to treat the plant with the horticultural oil spray four times, leaving five days between each application.

Be sure to spray the underside of the leaf because this is where the mites do their work. Spray both on top and the bottom to ensure thorough coverage.

A mature female spider mite can spawn a population of a million mites in less than one month! Spider mites don't discriminate and feed on shrubs, vegetables, flowers and much more and can wipe out the plant in a hurry!

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