“Every star in the universe represents a soul of a soldier who gave his life for the life you live today.” Giovannie de Sadeleer. “Freedom is a privilege, not a right. And as such, I have no right to ask anything of it, but I have the privilege of giving everything to it.” Craig D. Lounsbrough. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy.
Memorial Day weekend is here and June is on its way. Summer is about to happen with the temps already reaching into the 90’s. And yes, we are about to begin the heat trifecta of the year with the months of June, July and August next in line. And, with this heat wave, is an invitation from nature to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
There are so many recreational opportunities in each season for personal enjoyment and emotional satisfaction. Whatever your choice of recreation might be, enjoy to its fullest but remember to practice safety and respect for everyone (people and pets) and everything (property) around you, as well as protecting yourself from the elements. Be responsible!
Pet safety and etiquette: Pets are great to have and become wonderful buddies and family. Please be responsible for your dogs and cats. Treat them with the best of attention and care. Know their limitations in this hot weather. Leash them when you are walking with them, pick up poop, and do not allow them to stray very far from you. Give them plenty of fresh water. Make sure your fenced area for their playful moments accommodates their needs and safety. Do not place them in small pens in direct sun or tied to a tree all day long. Limit their time in the hot sun and do not leave them in hot cars. Train them to sit on the front porch with you or ride in the truck; these are opportunities to share quality time with them. Follow all local ordinances. Take proper care of your large animals also.
People time in the sun: Get some exercise out in the sun and re-energize with a healthy dose of natural Vitamin D. Pace yourself and do not stress out. Wear appropriate clothing and eyewear that gives good UV protection. Use sunblock with appropriate SPF and PABA-free as per your doctor’s recommendation (skin cancer is something we want to prevent). Also, select a sunscreen especially for your face to avoid clogging your pores. Repellents are good in keeping the gnats, no-see-ums, and mosquitoes away from you. Drink plenty of fluids. If possible, spend time outside early or late away from the heat of the day. Be safe not sorry! Also, if there’s lots of noises around, wear ear plugs for safety reasons. And while listening to your favorite music with your ear bugs, properly manage the volume for your personal safety.
Chemical usage: Always restrict your children’s and pet’s access to the lawn and landscape immediately after applying pesticides and chemicals. A few hours of sunshine will allow the pesticides and chemicals to dry and be absorbed by plants or soil. The best approach is to restrict entrance into the area for at least 6 to 8 hours before allowing your children or pets re-entry (morning spraying with afternoon re-entry or afternoon spraying with next morning re-entry). Also, when using baits for pests, select a non-toxic bait that will be safe around dogs and cats. Note that many baits can cause tremors and seizures in these pets that can be severe and life-threatening.
Container plants: These plants (such as geraniums, begonias, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) are high maintenance. Keep a check on them daily. Do not let them dry and wilt. Provide sufficient water and fertilizer to maintain quality, health and curb appeal.
Toxic plants: Be aware that emerging perennial bulbs, plants and grasses can be a definite temptation for dogs, cats and rabbits to eat. The best approach is to always discourage your pets from eating any plant or fungus in the lawn or landscape since many of the common garden plants and moisture-loving mushrooms can be poisonous if eaten. Simply know your plants and mushrooms and make a responsible decision around children and pets. However, dogs will chew on grass blades as a natural response to imbalances in their digestive system.
Also, azaleas, cycad palms, oleander, foxglove, lily of the valley, castor bean, and lantana can be toxic to pets. All varieties of lilies (including Easter lily, tiger lily and day lily) can be toxic to cats, often resulting in kidney failure unless the animal receives immediate treatment. Also, keep your compost pile covered or contained and out of the reach of your pet since the decomposing, fermenting, and moldy contents can be dangerous to them.
Summer stress pointers: Review your cultural practices (mowing, fertilization and irrigation) in the lawn and landscape. As the temperature rises, adjust your mowing practices (the taller the grass, the deeper the roots and improved drought and pest tolerance). Centipedegrass should be mowed at 1.5 to 2-inches height of cut. During the heat of the summer, keep it closer to two-inches. Also, the mowing frequency can be adjusted to once every 10 days or so. When mowing, cut one-third and leave two-thirds intact to prevent scalping (if 3-inches tall, remove one-inch of growth, thus two-inches tall).
Water usage: Effectively manage the water in your landscape. Calibrate your irrigation heads for proper output. Correct overspray and nontarget wetting. Your landscape needs only about one-inch of water per week. Do not water daily. Water in the early morning hours to prevent loss from evaporation and disease potential. About two applications each week should suffice. Keep your plants healthy. Too much water is destructive and deadly to your plants. With summer comes heat, drought and watering bans. Adjust landscape care during the summer months to give relief to lawns, landscapes, gardens, and gardeners. Using less water is good for the environment and your budget.
Home alone: If your plants are left home alone during vacation, please schedule someone to provide proper attention and care during your absence. Do not leave your plants unattended! A neighbor can serve this role quite effectively. However, be prepared and willing to reciprocate and return the favor for them as needed.
Think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape. May this bit of awareness ignite your desire to learn and ask questions, encourage you to further apply your gained knowledge, and bring you to further realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be at the foundation of all your home landscape activities.
Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food. Remember to feed and water the songbirds, and give your pets the care they need. Also, be on lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities as summer draws closer. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Look three times before entering the highway. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, and don’t text while driving. Help the homeless every chance you get. And as you receive blessings, always pay them forward and share with others. Continue to be in prayer for our upcoming annual mission trip to Peru, as well as, all the other mission trips scheduled for this summer. In His Mission and Grip! Blessings! Happy Memorial Day weekend to all! In remembrance of all who died while serving our great country! Thank you!
“Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of Your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name's sake.” Psalm 79:9. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8. “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28:31.
Seagle is a Sustainability Associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International), Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.