Gardening This Weekend: August 19, 2021

Again this year I’m going to alter the order of the weekend assignments to draw attention to the one that’s most timely of all.

• APPLY FALL PRE-EMERGENT GRANULES NOW! This is to prevent germination of annual bluegrass, rescuegrass (was really bad last winter and spring) and ryegrass. You may have to look at a couple of places to find the pre-emergent granules, and they’ll probably be labeled as “Crabgrass Killers,” but don’t let that worry you. Options include Dimension, Balan and Halts. Gallery works similarly to prevent broadleafed weeds. See related story this issue.
Chinch bugs turning hot, sunny areas of St. Augustine dried and dead. Small, black insects will be seen moving rapidly on the soil surface at the interface of the dead and healthy grass. Apply labeled insecticide.
Gray leaf spot turning irregular washes of shady and sunny portions of St. Augustine yellowed. You’ll see irregular gray diamond-shaped lesions on blades and runners. Avoid nitrogen fertilizer between June 15 and early September. This fungus has been prevalent this summer. Labeled turf fungicide such as Daconil or Azoxystrobin will stop current outbreak.
Armyworms are devouring bermuda lawns in big swaths of Texas. Afflicted areas will suddenly turn brown. Check closely and you’ll see the caterpillars. Control with general-purpose turf insecticide. See related story in recent issue.

Continued Below

Wildflower seeds into gently prepared soil. Full sun. Plant where they can be allowed to go to seed and where seed can mature and dry next spring and early summer. Wildflowers should not be planted into highly amended garden soils, nor should they be planted where grasses will compete. And, of course, no pre-emergent application where you’re going to plant them.
Fall-flowering bulbs, including spider lilies, oxblood lilies, fall crocus, naked lady lilies and others.
Sod St. Augustine or zoysia, or seed bermuda quickly to get them established before soil begins to cool. Again, do not apply pre-emergent weedkiller if you intend to plant new grass. (Some things you just have to say to be sure people remember.)

Dead branches from shrubs. If you’re scheduling a certified arborist to work on your trees to remove damage from last winter, better do so soon. People are going to begin to worry about whether trees will remain standing during next winter’s storms.
Erratic shoots from shrubs, groundcover beds.
Pinch flower stalks from coleus, basil plants to keep them growing vegetatively.

Flowerbeds with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to stimulate a flush of fall growth and bloom.
Patio pots, hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen food every two or three times that you water them to replenish nutrients lost due to leaching.
Bermuda lawns if it’s been more than 8 or 9 weeks since last you did. Use an all-nitrogen, high-quality fertilizer with up to half of its nitrogen in slow-release form. If you’re applying pre-emergent granules as well, mow first, fertilize, water deeply, wait one day, then apply the pre-emergent granules and water lightly.
Wait another couple of weeks to fertilize St. Augustine to lessen chance of gray leaf spot outbreak.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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