Gardening This Weekend: September 1, 2016

It’s a pivotal time for our gardening activities. Here are things you’ll want to look into.

If you missed last week’s write-up on pre-emergent herbicides, including the fact that they must be applied by the end of the first week of September, here is a link to that story.


• Sod to start new bermuda, St. Augustine, zoysia or other warm-season lawngrass. The longer you wait, the less established it will be when winter arrives.
• Wildflower seeds for spring blooms. You’re trying to catch early fall rains to get them off to a good start. Buy scarified bluebonnet seeds (treated with acid to soften the seed coats) for most reliable germination.
• Watch for early fall sales at local nurseries. Plants set out in September will have eight months to establish good roots before summer.


• Dead and damaged branches from shade trees and landscape shrubs.
• Spent flower stalks and browned foliage from perennials. Do not trim off any green leaves (iris, for example).
• Reshape erratic growth of abelias, elaeagnus and other shrubs, but do so with lopping shears to maintain natural growth forms.


• Apply high-nitrogen, or for almost all clay soils, all-nitrogen food to lawngrasses, landscape shrubs and groundcovers, flowers and vegetables. Water deeply after feeding.
• Apply iron/sulfur soil amendment to correct iron chlorosis. It shows up along and west of I-35 and occasionally in the rest of the state. Leaves will be yellow with dark green veins, most prominently on the newest growth. Repeat treatments as needed between April and mid-September. Keep iron products off masonry, painted surfaces that could be stained. (See related information in Question of the Week #2.)
• Continue feeding patio pots and hanging baskets to keep them vigorous in fall’s better weather.


• Pre-emergent weedkillers must be applied before the end of the first week of September. See link to important information above. (Yes, I’ll admit to posting it repeatedly. I’m just hoping you won’t miss it since timing is so critical.)
• Stinging caterpillars often proliferate in the fall. Watch out for puss caterpillars (asps), IO moth and Hagg moth larvae. Here is a link for more information.
• Chinch bugs in St. Augustine. If you have dead grass in the hottest, sunniest parts of your yard, and if they appeared over the past 8 or 10 weeks, they’re probably the result of chinch bugs. You can see the very small pests at the interface of the healthy and dying grass. They’re black with irregular white diamonds on their backs. Apply a labeled insecticide, but next year watch the very same areas and treat earlier, before damage becomes severe.

Posted by Neil Sperry

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