Gardening This Weekend: October 5, 2023

Here are the things I’d put at the top of my list to get done over the next several days.

Annual ryegrass to give winter green grass for bare ground, either where lawns have died out over the summer or around new houses. You can also overseed warm-season lawns with ryegrass for winter green color. Water the new planting to get it established, then just as needed for the permanent turf.
Dig and divide spring-blooming perennials such as iris, daylilies, coneflowers, gloriosa daisies, thrift, and others.
Daffodils and grape hyacinths as soon as you buy them. Ask questions about how well the types that you’re choosing will “come back” year after year. Tulips and Dutch hyacinths must go in the refrigerator for 45 days (or longer) at 45 degrees.
Nurseries are still well-stocked. October is an outstanding time for landscape improvements. Trees and shrubs planted now will have maximum time to establish before next summer’s heat.

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Remove dead and damaged branches and foliage from trees, shrubs, and perennials to tidy up the landscape.
Reshape houseplants you intend to bring indoors or into the greenhouse for winter on an as-needed basis.
Continue mowing at recommended height until frost. Raising the mower does not improve winter hardiness.
“Root-prune” trees and shrubs you intend to transplant over the winter. By cutting their lateral roots with a sharpshooter spade and giving them several months to regrow new roots within the eventual soil ball you improve their odds for survival. Do not attempt to cut tap roots or to lift the soil balls before the final digging this winter.

Apply high-quality, all-nitrogen or high-N lawn fertilizer (30 to 50 percent of its nitrogen in slow-release form) to lawn and landscape plants to prepare them for winter.
Newly planted winter color annuals with water-soluble, high-nitrogen food. Repeat weekly until frost.
Fescue, if that is your permanent lawngrass, with high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer so it can take advantage of cooler growing conditions.

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Inspect houseplants that you intend to bring indoors closely for any signs of insect or mite pests. If you find any, treat while they’re still outside.
If you intend to develop new garden or landscape beds next spring, and if they currently have grass and weeds growing in them, apply a glyphosate herbicide as soon as possible. It won’t contaminate the soil, but it must have warm conditions to kill out the unwanted vegetation. You’ll be able to rototill within a couple of weeks so that you can start working up the soils well in advance of late-winter plantings.
Most tree and shrub insect pests do not justify spraying this late in the season. There isn’t time for the plants to regrow healthy new leaves before frost. Just make note of what hit them and watch for it earlier next time around.
Brown patch (now also being called “large patch” by university people) is likely to develop in St. Augustine lawns now that it’s turning cooler. Since many of us have received rain with the cooling, brown patch is all the more likely. Look for yellowing blades in round patches 18 to 24 inches across. The blades will pull loose from the runners with just gentle tugs. Treat with an approved turf fungicide as soon as you see it. The grass will green right back up again. It weakens the grass, but it does not kill it.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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