23BSeptember 2, 2014

Here we are starting the month of September. Why is it that the spring and summer would appear to go by faster than the winter months?

With the arrival of fall comes the final push to get things done in your yard. Here is a list of things to do before we have to deal with that dreaded S word again.

The late spring and summer gave us a smattering of rain but not enough to keep our lawns healthy. You may notice that your lawn has spots that have died out and some spots were the lawn has responded to the recent rain. If you can rule out insect damage, the likely reason that you have dead spots has to do with the quality of the soil in those spots. People tend to think that all of the soil in their lawn is the same. The truth is, some of the soil could contain more clay or more sand than other areas of the lawn. The other thing people think is that they can throw down some seed in those spots and the seed will take and you will have your lawn back. If you have those dead spots in your lawn, you should dig up the dead grass and then loosen up the soil. You should then add compost or quality topsoil into the soil. This should be mixed into the top 4 to 6 inches of the existing soil. For a successful lawn, you need to have 6 inches of good soil. This is the reason you mix the new soil into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. If you just sprinkle the topsoil or compost on top of the existing poor soil, you are doomed to repeating this chore again next fall. Once you get the soil prepared, you want to add some seed starter fertilizer and mix it into the soil. This type of fertilizer will help to get a strong root system to develop in those spots that you are seeding. You can now put your grass seed down and then water the seed. You should keep the soil moist at all times. The seed needs a constant supply of moisture to aid in the germination of the seed. There are several different types of mulch materials that you can spread on top of the seed to help in holding in the moisture. In about 2 to 3 weeks time, you should have your seed sprouting and in another month you should have a nice looking lawn again. For the best shot at establishing grass seed, you should have your grass seed down by the end of September.

Fungus diseases have been everywhere this growing season. At some point in time, those diseased squash plants and cucumber plants are not worth keeping in the garden. You want to pull those plants up and dispose of them with your trash. If you leave those diseased plants in the garden, those diseased leaves form spores. Spores are the eggs for next year’s infection. By getting rid of the plants and cleaning up all infected debris that is on the ground, you can greatly reduce the amount of plant diseases you get in next years’ garden.

Many of your shrubs will begin to take up more water in the fall. This is done to allow the twigs and branches to plump up with water. This stored water can then help the plants to survive the drying winds of winter. Any of your broadleaf evergreens, think rhododendrons and holly, hydrangeas and rose bushes will especially need to take up more water in the fall. If Mother Nature provides a good soaking rain each week, then you are in luck. Otherwise you should be watering your shrubs once a week until the ground freezes.

Fall is also a good time to make sure that your shrubs have sufficient mulch on top of the soil. A 3-inch layer of mulch will help to prevent damage to the roots in the coming winter months. When applying mulch, make sure that the mulch does not touch the stem of the plant. If you do, the mulch can keep the stem of the plant moist all of the time, which in turn can damage the bark. Damaged bark can prevent the shrubs from taking up water. The same holds true for your trees. The mulch mounds that you see that are up against the trunk of the trees are, over time, going to lead to the death of those trees. Mulch correctlyf or the health of your plants.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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