Smith County Horticulturist
If you're like me, you're ready for a weather change! It has been a hot, dry summer, hard on plants and on enthusiasm for gardening or just being outdoors.
But, the month of September brings with it a promise of better things to come.
If you have been planning a landscape or garden project, wait a few more weeks, and the weather will be changing for the better.
As a matter of fact, fall in the south is often called the second gardening season. Winters here are typically mild to moderate, and plants set out and established in the fall will get a big jump on next year's growing season.
This month's free program topic is “Design a Garden Path.” Master Gardener Sandy Pannett discusses how to design a path to enhance the experience of your garden.
She'll share how to begin a garden path project: design, materials that can be used to accommodate various budgets, and how to highlight specimen plantings or garden art.
Later this month, the East Texas State Fair opens, and we will have our award-winning “Secret Garden” exhibit in the AgriWorld Exhibit, where young and old can learn about gardening, agriculture and the role it plays in our lives.
Master Gardeners have spent a lot of time upgrading the exhibit, so look for a lot changes if you have been there before.
September through early October is the time to make the final lawn fertilizer application in order to keep the grass healthy and growing up to first frost. Fall-fertilized lawns are better equipped to make it through the winter and resume growth next spring than lawns that receive no fertilizer.
Fall is an ideal time to apply lime to correct acidic soil conditions, although liming can be done at any time of the year. The chemical changes lime brings about in the soil take place over a period of several months, so, when growth resumes next spring, the pH of the soil will be more conducive for plant growth.
Every County Extension office in Texas has information and forms for submitting soil for testing to the Soil Testing Laboratory at Texas A&M in College Station. The form is also available online at http://soiltesting.tamu.edu.
LAWN WEED CONTROL
Avoid pre-emergent herbicide applications on weakened grass (from pests or drought) or in dense shade. Carefully follow label rates of application, since applying more than the label rate can damage your lawn.
If henbit, chickweed and lawn burweed were the main problems, then look for an herbicide with active ingredient isoxaben (eg. Portrait). This pre-emergent herbicide will safely prevent many broadleaf weed types without
harming your lawn. It will not control grassy weeds like Poa anna, also called annual bluegrass.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Shallow-rooted plants like azaleas, Japanese hollies and dogwoods are especially prone to drought stress.
Examine your flower, ground cover and shrub beds for seedlings of privet, sweetgum, oaks, elms, blackberry, greenbriar, sedges and other unwanted weeds. If they are already well established, wait for soaking rains to soften the ground when they'll be a little easier to pull or dig.
A pair of pliers may also help get woody plants out of the ground. If tree seedlings break off, they will resprout. If that happens, they'll be harder to pull next time. A hand trowel or sharpshooter shovel are also handy for removing these stubborn weeds, especially greenbriar. Pine needles will soon be abundant.
Collect and use them as a long lasting mulch around shrubs, young trees, and in vegetable gardens and other places where weed control and water conservation is needed.
Keith Hansen is Smith County Horticulturist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.