Gardening This Weekend: October 13, 2016

When I began this new format of e-gardens I thought I’d just include a handful of timely tips for each weekend. But I soon realized that wouldn’t be adequate – and that goes double for October! There’s so much to do before it turns cold. Here are the most critical.


• Trees and shrubs now. Nurseries have great supplies, many at low sale prices. Whenever possible, buy from a local, independent retail garden center – a member of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. You’ll get the best quality and the most accurate information.
• Cool-season color, including pansies, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale, stocks and others.
• Daffodils and grape hyacinths. Plant as soon as they arrive. Wait to plant tulips and Dutch hyacinths until mid-December. In the meantime, give them artificial chilling of 45 days in the fridge at 45 degrees.
• Dig and divide spring-flowering perennials now. Watch for a story on that here next week.


• Mow lawn regularly, both to keep grass tidy and to remove fallen leaves before they can pack down.
• Reshape large and overgrown patio pots and hanging baskets if you intend to bring them indoors for winter.
• Erratic growth of evergreen shrubs, but save major pruning for late winter. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs until after their bloom time. They are setting flower buds now.


• Cool-season lawngrasses fescue and ryegrass now with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer that has half or more of its nitrogen in slow-release form. If you’re feeding ryegrass that has been used to overseed your permanent turf, the two grasses will share the nutrients quite well.
• New winter annuals with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food. Feed winter color weekly if you’re growing it in pots.

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• Asps and other stinging caterpillars. If I’m going to get stung by these insects, it’s almost always in fall. They’ll be on many types of plants’ leaves, from oaks and hollies to candletrees and others. Best policy: just don’t touch any caterpillar this time of year. Tell the kids that, too. They can even be hiding in piles of fallen leaves.
• Fall webworms and other leaf-feeding, colonizing caterpillars. It’s usually easiest just to prune out the webs, but they are easily controlled by sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis if you can reach the webs with the spray and if you can get the B.t. into the webs.
• Brown patch in St. Augustine causes round circles of dead blades. Affected blades pull loose from the runners quite easily. It affects only the blades. Runners and roots are left intact and will generate new green growth. Fungicides will stop its spread and keep the grass more vigorous – and a whole lot more attractive!
• Apply a glyphosate-only herbicide to kill grass and other existing vegetation where you want to develop a new garden or groundcover bed come spring. Give it 10 days to kill the unwanted growth and you can do whatever you wish to prepare the soil. It leaves no residue as long as you stick to glyphosate as the only active ingredient.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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