Gardening This Weekend: September 27, 2018
Cool weather makes it a whole lot more pleasant to be working outdoors. Here are your critical tasks with this weekend’s changing conditions.
• Watch for sales in nurseries as they reduce inventories. Plants you buy now will be full-sized and well-rooted. By planting them now you’ll give them 7 or 8 months to get new roots established before summer.
• Ryegrass for overseeding permanent turf, also as a temporary way of covering bare ground until you plant permanent grass in April. “Perennial” rye is the better choice for urban lots. It looks better, and it’s a lot easier to keep. The seed does cost a bit more, but it’s money well spent. Do not bother overseeding if you applied pre-emergent weedkillers a month ago.
Note: A couple of cities do not allow overseeding, saying that it requires excessive use of water. My contention, as I’ve shown you here in years past, is that it doesn’t need to. You sow the seed and water at a time that you would water your lawn normally. You water the newly seeded lawn a couple of extra times to get the seeds up and growing, and from then on you just water the grass as you normally would to keep your permanent grass healthy during the winter. There are plenty of people who overwater their lawns in the winter even without overseeding.
• Daffodils and grape hyacinths as you buy the bulbs. They do not require pre-cooling in the refrigerator. Be sure you buy top quality bulbs. Varieties like Ice Follies, Carlton, Cheerfulness, Suzy and other early and small-flowering types are much more likely to establish and rebloom year after year. Tulips and Dutch hyacinths must be refrigerated for at least 45 days at 45 degrees. Plant them no sooner than mid-December.
• Dig and divide spring-flowering perennials such as iris, daylilies, oxalis, pinks, thrift and Louisiana phlox, Shasta daises, coneflowers and others.
• Dead and damaged branches from shade trees while you can easily distinguish them from healthy ones. Once they’re all bare, you can’t tell them apart.
• Dead and drying stubble from perennial gardens to keep things tidy.
• Remove erratic shoots from shrubs, but save major reshaping for late winter.
• It’s time for the final feeding for 2018. That’s especially critical if you received heavy rains over the past couple of weeks. High-nitrogen fertilizer for sandy soils. All-nitrogen fertilizer for clays. In all cases, a high percentage of nitrogen should be in slow-release form.
• Same fertilizer you apply to lawn will also benefit your trees, shrubs and groundcover beds as they store nutrients for best early spring growth.
• Wait to feed newly planted and transplanted annuals and perennials until they’ve been growing a couple of weeks, then apply the same high-nitrogen food to help them get started.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Watch patio pots, hanging baskets for insects, diseases. Deal with them outdoors, so you won’t be bringing them inside over the winter.
• Conditions right now are perfect for brown patch development in St. Augustine turf. Grass will quickly turn yellow in 18-inch circles. Blades will pull loose easily from runners. Apply labeled fungicide and do not water in the evenings.
• If you’re seeing damage to tree and shrub leaves, and if the plants are deciduous, there is little reason to spray for any pests that may still be feeding actively. It’s too late in the growing season to be of much benefit.