It was a long, hot summer that has stretched into fall here in Southern Maryland, and we don’t know about you, but we can’t wait for autumn colors and temperatures! The cooler weather makes it more fun to do the things we like to do, like gardening.
Along with shorter days, September ushers in a host of gardening chores. Let’s take a look at them.
September lawn care
Treat your lawn to a spa day by aerating and dethatching it. In fact, September is the ideal time for this task because “lawns are less susceptible to weeds and crabgrass,” at this time, says Andrew LeVahn of Levahn Brothers in Maple Grove, MN.
A core aerator can be rented at the big home improvement stores. A core aerator will provide more oxygen to the lawn’s roots.
Not all lawns require dethatching. You’ll know if yours does by checking the thatch layer. “Poke around the grass until you find the brown layer near the bottom of the grass blade,” suggests Robert Pavlis, author of “Garden Myths.”
“With your finger or a stick, poke a hole through the brown layer to the top of the soil. Measure the thickness of the thatch,” he concludes. The ideal thickness of a thatch layer is ½ inch.
Remove excess thatch with a vertical mower or power rake. Then, give the grass a good soaking (with at least ½ inch of water) after dethatching and aerating.
If the lawn is looking a bit thin, consider spreading fresh seed. A thick lawn helps deter weed growth. Then, at the end of September or early October, you can throw some 3-1-2 fertilizer down. Wait six to eight weeks, and then apply more fertilizer, according to LeVahn.
Clean up the planting beds
Get rid of dying or dead annuals and replace them with fall-hardy varieties, such as pansies, snapdragons, and ornamental kale. Perennials, such as canna, can be divided now unless you plan on storing them. If so, wait until after the first frost to dig them up.
In the vegetable bed, clear any debris from the soil. This includes fallen fruit and vegetables, leaves, and other items under or in which pests and disease organisms can overwinter.
Add compost to the soil if you’ll be planting late-season vegetables. Otherwise, this is a good time to apply a weed-control product.
“[W]eeds are storing up nutrients in their roots and quickly absorb the herbicide where it counts,” says Julie Day at todayshomeowner.com. The site offers a helpful video on targeting weeds with weed killer so that you don’t damage nearby plants.
Care for shrubs and trees
Fall in Southern Maryland is an excellent time to plant many types of trees and shrubs. Anything you’ll be growing in a container can also be planted now.
Then, turn your attention to the existing trees and shrubs in your yard. Get rid of any that are dead or dying. Avoid pruning and fertilizing now; you want to avoid new growth that may be damaged when the weather turns frosty.
Clean up the beds under the trees by removing twigs, branches, fruit and flowers.
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