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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

The Fall To-Do List

Posted by John Fulton -

Fall seems to be bearing down on us. The warm days and cooler nights definitely bring to mind the seasons are changing. The dog day cicadas are even predicting frost the second week of October (which is an average date), based on the old saying of six weeks after they start singing. This week's offering will cover many short topics with reminders, alerts, and the to-do list.

Lawn work can be in high gear. Reseeding or overseeding should be done this week. Use about two pounds of seed per 1000 square feet of lawn for overseeding and twice that for worked up areas. A blend of grasses with Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and red or chewings fescue is most common. The idea is to get the grass established before freezing weather, and remember bluegrass can take up to a month to germinate. The intrusive operations, such as dethatching and core aeration are also best done at this time. I know someone will ask in a week or two "Is it too late to seed grass?" The answer is similar "You will have to wait and see." Sometimes seedings in mid-September don't make it, and sometimes ones made in November do. It's just the odds of success start going down after the middle of the month. This would also be the time to do the core aeration or dethatching operations.

The last half of September is an ideal time to apply broadleaf weed control for perennial weeds. This will affect young grass, so don't apply any chemicals at this time if you put down new seed. The rule of thumb is you need to mow new grass at least two times before applying broadleaf products. Combinations of 2,4-D, MCPP, and dicamba bought as a premix are most common and have broad spectrum control. If you find a combination with trichlopyr in it, or add it yourself, it will help even further with hard to control perennials such as violets. Remember you can get vapor drift with dicamba if temperatures are over 85 degrees or so. It is best to wait later in the month with dicamba to preserve the neighbor's tomatoes. The recent rains have some things growing again, so this this should improve the weed control.

We are rapidly approaching the time to plant tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs. They should be fall planted before a killing frost. That date is usually about the second week in October in our area. Plant larger bulbs six to eight inches deep, and smaller ones three to four inches deep. Mix into the soil five tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer and two cups of bone meal per 10 square feet of bed area. It is also time to dig summer flowering bulbs such as canna and dahlia as their foliage turns yellow. Store them on layers of sawdust or peat moss in a cool, dry place.

The nuisance pest population is really building up. Crickets and millipedes are the major ones at this time. To lessen your numbers in the home, try a foundation sprays with something like bifenthrin or permethrin to help reduce the number in the home. Later home pest invaders will include lady bugs, box elder bugs and elm leaf beetles. These will wander around while looking for a place to overwinter. If they can get into your house, so much the better since it will be much warmer. Check for proper fit of door sills, flashings, screens, and utility entrance areas. Not allowing entrance is the best thing. The foundation sprays will help to some degree as well. If pests do get in the home, the vacuum is the best control.

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