September Lawn and Garden Tips

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Seeding Fescue Lawns – The middle of September is the very best time to seed your fescuelawn. Make sure to use a quality seed at a rate of 10 pounds per 1000sqft, cover with straw for new lawns and water frequently to ensure good germination. When the seedlings emerge they have very small, shallow roots. Keep them watered and don’t let falling leaves smother them. Use a leaf blower on low power or rake VERY gently to remove leaves. Overseeding old lawns can be done by mowing the lawn closely to the ground, raking or aeration to expose some soil
and seeding fescue at a rate of 3-5 pounds per 1000sqft. Water shallowly as often as possible during the first 2 weeks to get good germination.

Shrubs & Trees – Fall is a good time to plant shrubs and trees. This gives them the entire fall and some of the winter to establish a root system, which in turn will give them a better start in the spring. Be careful not to prune plants until after the first frost to avoid soft regrowth that could be killed in the cold.

Flowers – Plant pansies and mums this month for seasonal color. This is also a good time to divide Iris. To achieve success, have good drainage, full sun, clean cultivation (weed and grass free) and frequent dividing of large clumps. Geraniums can be overwintered in your garage or basement if you the area you are keeping them in stays above freezing. Be sure to bring them in before the first frost. You can leave them in the pots or remove all the soil and place them bare root in paper bags.

Storing Bulbs – Five common flower garden plants: Dahlia, Canna, Caladium, Gladiolus, and Tuberous Begonia may not overwinter outside. To save the plants, lift roots, tubers, or corms about the time of our first killing frost. They may be dug just after foliage dries. Dig deep enough so that part of the plant will not be snapped off when lifted out of the soil. Leave soil around Dahlia tubers, Canna and Caladium roots. Store bulbs in a garage or other building until soil dries and falls away from plant parts. Shake soil off roots and tubers and cut away dried stem. Discard  mmediately any plant parts that show soft spots or disease. Place tubers and
roots in old sawdust or peat moss—in a flat box or plastic bag with holes for  ventilation. Store in a dry, cool place such as a basement. Do not store on back porch or in garage. These plants cannot withstand freezing. Also, store away from danger of being eaten by mice, squirrels, etc.

Houseplants – Bring houseplants indoors when temperatures dip below 50°F. Give them a good bath in soapy water or spray with insecticidal soap. Move plants into partial shade for a week to condition them to lower light levels indoors.

Winterizing The Garden – Putting the garden to bed for the winter can prevent many of next year’s insect and disease problems by thoroughly cleaning plant debris out of the garden. Pull out all annuals that have completed their lifecycle. Get your soil tested. Add organic matter and turn over soil to decrease insect and disease populations. Plant a cover crop of winter rye or annual rye grass to prevent soil erosion and to capture nutrients over the winter. It is not uncommon for insects and diseases to be more abundant in the fall. Strive to keep fall vegetables healthy and actively growing; healthy plants are less susceptible to insects and diseases. When
sufficient damage is detected, use an approved pesticide. You can extend the season of tender vegetables by protecting them through the first early frost. In North Carolina, we often enjoy several weeks of good growing conditions after the first frost. Cover growing beds or rows with burlap or a floating row cover supported by stakes or wire to keep the material from directly touching the plants. Individual plants can be protected by using milk jugs, paper cups or water- holding walls. Most of the semi-hardy and hardy vegetables will require little or no frost
protection. Semi-hardy vegetables should be harvested before a heavy freeze. Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze. During mild winters, harvest may continue till spring.