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August starts the fall grass re-seeding season. Our own blends of APF Act II, APF Shady and APF Sunny grass seed make excellent choices in selecting quality grass for your lawn. You have to consider several factors when determining what grass to have in your lawn:
What type of lawn do you want? One for show or one with lots of activity?
What is the climate of your area?
What are the physical limitations of your lawn site, such as slope, shade and sunlight?
What is the pH of your soil? Bring in a sample in a one pound can and we can determine your soil needs.
How much maintenance is needed? Is water plentiful? Does the turf grass need much mowing and fertilizing?
Around the Garden
Water, water, water and water some more. We've been saying it all summer, and it's still true: we haven't had enough rain to sustain our gardens this summer. Make sure your plants are getting at least an inch of water per week through the fall. That includes lawns, shrubs, trees, flower beds and vegetable gardens. Even plants that don't scream for water by wilting are hurting now if you're not watering. They may show their unhappiness by dying over the winter or not flowering in the spring. Water early in the day if possible to allow foliage to dry off before dark.
Continue to fertilize annuals with Miracle Gro or a similar fertilizer up until the first frost for the best flowering. Don't give perennials any more fertilizer this year - new growth may not have time to harden off properly before winter.
Toward the end of the month and into October, plant pansies and mums to replace tired annuals. Pansies love cool weather - they will bloom past the first frosts of the fall, and will usually survive Anytown winters to come back in a blaze of glory in early spring, dying back as the heat of summer approaches. Pansies planted in the ground are more likely to survive winter than those kept in pots. Pansies need well drained soil and at least a half day of sun; violas will do well with less sun. (Keep in mind that areas shaded by trees in the summer may get plenty of sun in the fall and spring when trees are bare.)
Plant mums in pots or in the ground to add color to your fall garden. Mums need a spot where they will get at least half a day of direct sun, preferably more. Most people use them as annuals because it takes some work to get full bushy plants that look as good the second year as they did when you bought them. However, if you want to treat them as perennials, be sure to get our fact sheet on chrysanthemum care.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs this fall for a spectacular display in the spring. Irises are best planted now. Daffodils should be planted toward the end of the month, tulips a little later (when you start needing a sweater in the evenings). Shop early for the best selection.
Feed bulbs with Holland Bulb Booster. Add to the soil when planting new bulbs, and apply to existing bulb beds at the same time. This is a balanced fertilizer especially formulated for bulbs.
Fall is a great time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials - for us as well as the plants. Planting in the fall gives plants a chance to concentrate on developing good root systems without the stress of summer heat. Give your new plants a good start by digging in Clay Away, compost and other soil amendments to improve the drainage and texture of your soil, and then watering in the plants with Dragon Plant Starter, a special mix of mild fertilizer and Vitamin B1 that reduces transplant shock.
Prune evergreens lightly now if you need to shape them, by avoid major pruning next year. Pruning stimulates new growth which may not have time to harden off before winter.
If your iris leaves are flopping, you may have iris borers. Moths lay eggs on the leaves in the spring. When the eggs hatch, the larvae move down the foliage and bore in the fleshy root, eating it and rotting it our. Dig up plants, cut out the larvae and damaged roots. Replant healthy roots. Do not mulch irises. Consider spraying next spring with an insecticide to prevent borers next year.
Cut off spent flower stalks and ugly or diseased foliage to neaten the appearance of the garden to prevent diseases from overwintering. Leave seed heads on your black-eyed susans; they're a great food source for goldfinches.
Mark any perennials whose tags are missing so you'll know where they are when they die back at the end of the season. There are at least three reasons for this; to know where to look for them in the spring as you anxiously wait for them to break dormancy; to know what they are when they come up; and to avoid digging up something you intended to keep when you plant bulbs late this fall or early flowering plants - such as ranunculus, primrose or poppies - next spring.
Your Edible Garden
Early September is a great time to plant cool weather vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and other greens, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets and radishes. When planting from seed, add 2 weeks to the 'days of maturity' number on the packet. These numbers are estimates, anyway, but shorter days and weaker sun at this time of the year will increase the length of time it takes plants to mature.
If your houseplants have been spending the summer outside, plan to move them in this month or early October. Although some can take temperatures just above freezing, others will die back at higher temperatures, so the safest course is to bring them in before night temperatures drop below 50 degrees. It's a good idea to treat plants with an insecticide - such as Safer's Insecticidal Soap - to avoid bringing any critters in with the plant. When choosing an insecticide, always check the label first and use only on plants for which it's recommended.
If you bought tropical plants for outdoor use this summer, treat them like your houseplants if you want to overwinter them. Tropical hibiscus, mandevilla, diplodenia, bouganvillia, lantana and gardenias are among the tropicals that can be overwintered.