Ah -- a little heat relief is in the air and maybe fall is really here. It's great to get outdoors again - it makes us feel good and the lawn likes it too. Now is the time most gardeners turn to lawn care and there are a few things you can do to make your summer weary turf look good again.
First try a good feeding. Most gardeners and lawn care professionals are switching to the low phosphorus containing products like a 15-0-15, 30-0-4, 16-4-8 or similar fertilizers. When applied following label instructions these products are less likely to cause water pollution yet they feed the lawn with needed nutrients.
Now is also a good time to fill in the bare spots. We all have them due to chinch bugs, weeds or excessively wet weather. One way is to add plugs and another is to obtain the squares of sod arriving at garden centers. Here is a tip; only buy the good looking turf. If it is yellow or brown, it may never look better. Keep the new grass moist and it normally begins growth immediately to renew the lawn.
If you have weeds and who doesn't? Now it the time to remove this unwanted greenery. Sometimes a selective herbicide as found in weed and feeds works. Other times you need a specific product to take out the weeds. If you don't know your weeds, have them identified by your local University of Florida Extension office. They can tell you what you have and suggest a control. Some weeds are not that easy to control and need to be spot killed with a non selective herbicide. When the weeds decline these areas often need new sod or plugs.
Well, the lawn is only one area of your landscape that needs your attention at this time of the year. Check out Tom's list of Gotta Do's for other fall chores. Some may be fun and add value to your home site.
- Lawns flooded by storms my turn yellow and decline; a root rot control fungicide may help.
- Consider adding soil to low areas or improve the drainage before resodding.
- Lawns likely have a yellow green look from summer which means it is time for fertilizer.
- Fall fertilizer applications are normally permitted in Florida but check to be sure in your area.
- Select a lawn fertilizer with little or no phosphorus, the middle number in the analysis.
- October is the last feeding for bahia, centipede and zoysia lawns this year.
- Weed and feed products labeled for your lawn may be substituted for a fertilizer only product.
- Regreen lawns that continually have a yellow look with an iron or minor nutrient application.
- Herbicide only products may be used following label instructions for your lawn type.
- Herbicides may not control all weeds; pull, dig or use non selective spot sprays as labeled.
- October through spring is generally a good time to install sod.
- Use soil aeration in compacted and poorly drained soils to encourage better root growth.
- Continue mowing to maintain proper turf height; keep mowing height the same year-round.
Vegetable and fruit plantings:
- Hurry to replant warm season gardens damaged by storms.
- Note low flooded areas and develop raised beds or improve drainage.
- Use large transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to get a fall crop.
- Stake or trellis tall or vining crops to keep the edible portions off the ground.
- Feed gardens every 3 to 4 weeks with a traditional fertilizer or use a slow release product.
- Tomatoes begin setting and holding their fruits early to mid month.
- Add flowers to vegetable gardens to attract pollinators.
- Prevent spray damage to pollinators; apply sprays when they are not active.
- Caterpillars are feeding on cucumbers, melons and tomatoes; control with a natural spray.
- Begin plantings of cool season vegetables around mid-month.
- Gardeners cramped for space can grow vegetables in containers.
- Make sure containers have lots of drainage holes so not be flooded after storms.
- Start seeds for transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and similar vegetables in containers.
- Groom summer weary herb plantings and start new ones that prefer the cooler weather.
- Give citrus a final feeding of the year during early October.
- Add strawberry plants to a garden or build a pyramid for planting.
- Remove broken, cracked or otherwise storm damaged plant portions back to healthy portions.
- If needed, storm damaged perennials and most shrubs can be pruned back to near the ground.
- Small uprooted trees and shrubs normally survive if pulled upright, staked and given care.
- Check tree and palm supports to make sure they are secure but not damaging the plants.
- If trees must be replaced, consider smaller growing wind resistant species.
- Major pruning time is over for azaleas, bougainvillea, camellias, gardenias and poinsettias.
- Shield poinsettias and holiday cactuses from nighttime light starting mid month.
- Shrubs, ground covers and perennials are ready for a final fall feeding.
- Use a slow release fertilizer that can feed in ground and container planting for months.
- Remove storm damaged and brown fronds from palms; keep the green fronds.
- Give palms a final feeding of the year with an 8-2-12-4mg fertilizer or similar product.
- Palm diseases are prevalent; clean and sterilize pruners between palms.
- Whiteflies and mealy bugs are major pests; systemic insecticides offer good control.
- Check container plantings for plugged drainage holes; repotting may be needed.
- Maintain a mulch under trees and shrubs; start the mulch several inches from trunks.
House & foliage plant care:
- Groom and reshape outdoor foliage plants damaged by storms.
- Check for pot bound plants and give new containers as needed
- Make sure containers have adequate drainage to prevent over watering.
- Begin moving cold sensitive plants to a warm location by month's end.
- Control insects on plants before moving them indoors.
- Most foliage plants need a bright light location but out of the direct sun.
- Feed plants in bright light monthly; less often in low light.
- Begin forcing amaryllis and paper white narcissus for indoor displays.
- Reduce watering of holiday cactuses to when the surface soil dries and discontinue feedings.
- Make sure indoor poinsettias, holiday cactuses and kalanchoes receive no nighttime light.
October 2017 Plantings
Flowers: African daisy, alyssum, angelonia, ageratum, begonia, black-eyed Susan, blue daze, calendula, candytuft, celosia, chrysanthemums, cleome, coleus, cornflower, cosmos,
dianthus, dusty miller, gaillardia, gazania, geraniums, gerbera, heliotrope, hollyhock, impatiens, larkspur, lobelia, nicotiana, pentas, petunia, salvia, snapdragon, sunflower, sweet pea, verbena and zinnia.
Vegetables: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, collards,
kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion, peas, potato, radicchio, radish, rhubarb, roquette, rutabaga,
spinach, strawberry, Swiss chard and turnip
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, borage, cardamom, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, fennel,
garlic, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, mint, nasturtium, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet
marjoram, tarragon, thyme and water cress.
Bulbs: African lily, agapanthus, amaryllis, anemone, bulbine, calla, crinum, day lily, gingers,
gladiolus, pineapple lily, rain lily, society garlic, spider lilies, walking iris, watsonia.
Refrigerate crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, narcissus and tulips for forcing.