Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Replenish Yellow Jacket Traps
Late summer and early fall is when yellow jacket wasps breed, meaning they are most active during this time. To enjoy your summer garden without the bother of buzzing, stinging insects, make sure your yellow jacket traps are clean and have been refreshed with new pheromone cartridges. Fresh cartridges are available at nursery supply stores.
Cut Back Fuchsias
You can cut back leggy fuchsias now for one more bloom before cold weather sets in. Fuchsias only bloom on new wood so cutting them back will encourage a new burst of growth. Do not fertilize until you begin to see new growth, probably in two to three weeks. Then apply fertilizer according to the label directions. Freshly trimmed plants will not require as much water, so it might be a good idea to cut just before you leave on vacation.
Scare Birds Away From Fruit
Hungry birds can make a mess of your fruit crop. Protect the fruit by hanging used CDs among the branches. The flashing of the metallic surface will supposedly frighten the birds away. Plastic owls and rubber snakes can help keep hungry birds out of the garden, but only if you keep them moving. If you decide to use this method, move the faux creatures several times a day.
Renovating the Lawn
If your lawn is standing up several inches above the sidewalk, it's probably time to dethatch. Thatch is the layer of dead grass blades that build up after many years of mowing. Water and fertilizer can't penetrate this layer to reach the roots, so you are probably seeing dead or yellow patches in your grass.
Use a thatching rake -- in one direction only -- to remove the built-up layer. Dethatching in more than one direction will cause root damage. Compost the thatch that you pull from the lawn. After dethatching, fertilize and then water. Dethatching should be done before the weather gets cool in the fall so the lawn has time to recover.
Protect Trees From String Trimmers
I saw this again today: a professional gardener using a string trimmer around the base of a tree trunk. He should have known better! String trimmers cut through the bark and damage the cambium, the layer of tissue that carries nutrients up and down to the root system. To protect trees, use a recycled nursery can that has the bottom removed and a slit cut all the way up the side. Slip the prepared can around the base of the trunk so string trimmers can't do harm!