While some of us dream of barbecues, swimming and basking in the sun, others are dreading the heat, humidity and bugs of a mid-Missouri summer.


With summer upon us, I’m one who looks forward to the sunshine and time spent outdoors and with family. I don’t think much of the humidity though. One thing you can count on is that this summer will likely be as unpredictable as any other weather prediction for Missouri. We know we will be hot. We know we will have a drought. And we know our plants and lawns will suffer for it. As you prepare for your summer, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Japanese beetles: Hopefully you’ve never heard of them because they can devastate a landscape in a hurry. These bronze-winged, emerald green beetles appear in late June and feed for about six months before laying eggs for the next season’s crop. They love our roses, linden, grapes, fruit trees and other desirable landscape plants. Many people hang pheromone traps with the intent to capture as many of these hungry beetles as possible, but unfortunately, what typically happens is these hormone-baited traps only draw thousands more beetles into your area from miles away to feed and lay eggs. If you care for your plants and like your neighbors, reconsider the use of pheromone traps for these guys.


Turf care: Disease and insect pressures increase this time of year. A couple of the top issues are brown patch, a soil-borne fungus that thrives in many of our tall fescue lawns, and white grubs, which are a beetle larvae that feed on the root system of your turf. As the soil temps rise, the fungus can become active, especially when humidity is high and overnight temperatures exceed 65 degrees F. Also as the soil warms, many C-shaped white grub species move closer to the surface to feed on the roots of our turf plants. Proper mowing and watering practices can help to minimize damages. Remember that coupling either issue with heat and drought stress will only make things worse for your lawn, so water deep and less often, and then mow as high and often as possible.


Pest management: During the summer, fleas, ticks and chiggers can make spending time in your lawn agonizing for you and your pets. Some of us treat our pets to keep these pests at bay, and others treat the lawn to reduce the pest populations. We also see a lot of critters such as ants, spiders, pill bugs and millipedes moving inside the house. Treating around the exterior of the home can help protect it from this sort of invasion. We have some images of common pests on our website, but we’re always happy to inspect in person, too.


Irrigation: Keeping up with a Missouri drought can be nearly impossible, and nothing is as good for our plants as natural rainfall, which makes installing an automated sprinkler system a home improvement project worth considering. If you’re fortunate to already have one, now would be a good time to evaluate its effectiveness and look at potential water-saving options from broken sprinkler heads and leaks to rain sensors. During a drought period, it’s often easy to distinguish which areas of your lawn and landscape aren’t receiving proper coverage. Bringing in a professional irrigation service contractor may be necessary to make changes to help save water and your plants.

For more information, call Atkins, Inc. at 573-874-5100, or visit their website for a full list of services: http://www.atkinsinc.com

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