Garden Checklist for September
Here are some events Arkansas gardeners need to consider for September.
September Lawn Care
- September is the beginning of the cool-season lawn establishment period. Turf type tall fescues are best established from September to mid-October with late February through March as a poor second choice. Late seeded lawns will not be strong enough to survive the first summer.
- Prepare a good seed bed by tilling and bring a pint of soil to the Extension office to determine nutrient needs. Sow 8 to 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet for establishment. If you just need to thicken up your fescue lawn, overseed with 4-5 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
- To get the most out of a pre-emergent herbicide program for winter annual weed control, make the application now or at least by September 15. Applications made in late September or thereafter often miss the beginning of germination of winter annual grasses and broadleaves. Remember after applying the pre-emergent herbicide, it needs to be watered in within a few days to activate it.
- Don’t apply a pre-emergent to a lawn to be overseeded or a newly seeded lawn.
- Now’s a good time to collect soil samples for your lawn, gardens, and shrubs and have them analyzed by the University of Arkansas. Your soil sample report should be back within two weeks. If the report calls for lime to reduce soil acidity, apply it in the fall. The lime will have several months to work before spring growth begins.
- Check out our monthly lawn calendars posted on our lawn page.
- Homeowners should check their lawns for fall armyworms. Heavy populations are capable of causing damage to lawns which resembles scalping
with a mower.
- To check areas for armyworms, use a soap flush (2 tablespoons of lemon-scented dishwashing soap in a gallon of water) to bring larvae to the top of the sod. Insecticides labeled to control armyworms in lawns are Sevin, bifenthrin, trichlorfon, spinosad, cyfluthrin, gamma-cyhalothrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin, azadirachtin, chlorantraniliprole, halofenozide, indoxacarb and Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.). Following application, wait 1-3 days before mowing.
- Twig girdler insects should be making their appearance this month. Small branches of pecan, hickory, or elm are uniformly girdled from the tree and fall to the ground. The fallen twigs have eggs deposited in them so dispose of them immediately, to control the twig girdler. This will reduce next year’s problem.
Trees, Shrubs, Flowers, and Potted Plants
- This month brings life back to your landscape by planting pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons, dusty miller and dianthus as the temperatures begin to cool. Pansies planted by mid-October survive winters best and will put on a tremendous show this fall.
- Start acclimating your house plants for the trip back inside for the winter. Move plants to a less sunny area and then in a couple of weeks move them again to a location that simulates light conditions indoors. All this moving to lesser light outdoors will reduce plant shock when they are moved indoors next month.
- Dig and divide spring blooming perennials.
- Save seeds from annuals and perennials for next year’s planting.
- Replenish mulch around trees and shrubs.
- Don’t fertilize or severely prune shrubs now because this will encourage rapid regrowth, and the new growth won’t have time to harden off before cold weather arrives.
- Christmas cactus initiate flower buds by being exposed to cool night temperatures similar to our outside night temperature beginning in September. Moving your cactus outdoors in an area with plenty of indirect sunlight and giving it one more feeding of houseplant fertilizer later this month will cause your cactus to bloom late fall to early winter. While outdoors, limiting water will encourage flowerbuds to open at the same time. Naturally, you will bring the cactus indoors when danger of frost is predicted and place in a well-lit area until buds are about to pop.
- Chrysanthemums are setting flower buds. Fertilize lightly now and water consistently to ensure a good show beginning this month. Garden Centers have mums to add to your collection.
Fall Cleanup and Composting
- Leaves should be collected as they fall. You don’t want a heavy covering of leaves entering the winter months. A dense layer can actually smother a lawn. People often leave leaves on the lawn until it turns cold and then rake them. If you have a covering of leaves on your lawn prior to the first frost, the leaves may prevent your lawn from going dormant. When you finally do rake up the leaves, you’ll expose actively growing grass to cold weather. Your lawn could suffer winter injury.
- Prepare your compost unit for the influx of fall cleanup which is just a few short weeks away. Clean out units and store compost in trash cans for fall gardening.
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