By Sandi Hillermann McDonald
There is no better time of year than this abundant season to catch your bearings, reevaluate the year, enjoy the harvest and relax. It is also the best time to take a few moments to invest in your home. There are many simple tasks you can do now, that will save time in the spring when you are twice as busy.
The kids are back in school and off to college. That makes it a good time to get back to work in the yard and garden. Especially if you have put your outdoor living projects off this summer because of bonding, vacations and sports programs.
With the hottest month of the year now behind us, there is no better time to renovate and reseed than during the month of September. In fact, the perfect window of opportunity for lawn growth is August 15 – October 15. Even though it may be hot and dry, it is the perfect time of year to aerate and over seed established yards.
The process should be done as follows: Cut the lawn a little shorter than normal (2-3 inches). Then run over the yard with a core aerator (this machine pulls plugs out of the ground about the size of your little finger). This whole process works best after a good rain or a deep watering. The core aeration process helps with the soil aeration, lessens soil compaction and makes for better, stronger grass root systems. Now, run a renovator over the area. This machine slices the ground with many little teeth and will break down the dirt clods from the core aeration process and bring up any dead thatch in the area.
After the aeration process is completed, you are ready to sow your grass seed (use a 50% spread rate for a 50% stand of grass) and add fertilizer (a starter type fertilizer that is high in phosphorus is best). For a 50% stand of grass or less, you will not need additional cover such as straw. If you are over seeding bare areas or new lawn areas, you will need to straw these areas to hold moisture for seed protection. For the specific grass seed type, shop for seed specific to your area of need: shade, sun, part-shade and sun, etc. Check with your local independent garden center for special grass seed mixes that are specially blended for your region for the best performance.
Once you have sown the grass seed, you can apply a starter fertilizer. Then, add a Winterizer fertilizer to the entire area in late October or November. This whole process will “promise” you a beautiful strong lawn for spring of next year. Water is, of course, essential for this growth if Mother Nature does not cooperate. New lawn installations are also best at this time of year as well.
NOW PLANT, PLANT, PLANT
Fall in Missouri is the ideal time of year to plant all kinds of things from cool-season vegetables to turf grasses, and especially shrubs, evergreens or deciduous trees. Yet, when it comes to planting, many gardeners only think of the spring. Why is fall such an ideal time to plant? First, the warm soil in the fall helps encourage root growth. The roots continue to grow through our mild winters becoming well established by the spring. This makes fall plantings much better equipped to handle our heat and drought once summer finally arrives. Plus, our fall and spring rains help do the work in establishing your plants so you don’t have to do as much. During this time, there is also fewer pests and disease problems to attack your plant while it is young.
Planting trees in the fall of the year is perfect timing to get better results. Choosing varieties for that special spot should be given some thought. So plant a tree this fall. You will help the environment, lower your electric bills, and enhance your property value.
Now turn your focus to Fall Decorations….and change the Curb Appeal of your yard by giving it a face-lift for fall. Change out those summer containers and flowerbeds with fall bedding plants that work long into the fall season, which in our case here in Missouri can be thru mid November. You should be able to find such plants as pansies, ornamental cabbage, kale, Fall Magic annuals, ornamental grasses, hardy garden mums and MUCH more. Don’t forget to add in straw, corn stalks, pumpkins and gourds to give it a complete look. Extend the look of your outdoor room and enjoy the extended season.
Fall bulbs are available now and should be considered for spring color in your garden! So start thinking ahead to next year and get in on the action now.
*For additional information about fall gardening and tips, check out the following website: www.hillermann.com.
Time to go………..See you in the Garden
Sandi Hillermann McDonald