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September Landscapes – Change those settings now!

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Change those sprinkler settings from evening starts to morning starts!

The month of September is always interesting because it represents so much change. But the change we’ll talk about first is the change you’ll make to your water sprinkler settings – and why we make them.

Labor Day is the day I recommend to change your sprinkler settings from evening starting times over to morning starting times. Anywhere between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. is a good time to begin your watering cycles.

We make this change so that we don’t create conditions favorable to fungus. We want the lawn to dry out each day before nightfall. Nights are longer and cooler. The sun is tilting back in the sky and days are shorter. The hot temperatures may still be with some of us, but the amount of time spent at that temperature is now rather short compared to a month ago.

Additionally, you will want to adjust your times for each cycle. We no longer need to put out as much water to keep our lawn/plants/trees going as evaporation is reducing. An ideal set up for right now would be three days a week at 10 minutes per zone (spray heads).

In a previous column, I talked about how not all sprinkler zones are the same. Zones against a house on the north side no longer need as much water as zones on the south side which are still getting full sun. So the times for those type zones can be reduced compared to what you’re giving the south side. Now, some areas on the north side of the house will still require the same water as the sun may still be hitting it directly. But in all likelihood, shade is already dominant in those beds against the house.

The sun begins tilting it way lower in the sky at the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. That day is during the third week of June. Each day after that summer solstice is shorter than the one before. By early September, we start noticing the changes. Places that were getting partial day sun no longer are. Its important that we respond to those changes.


Autumn Sage (aka Salvia Greggi)

September has some other changes at hand, those that don’t require resetting anything. Namely, the Autumn Sage and Russian Sage here in Texas begins their most glorious time of the year in September. And of course, the Gulf Muhly and Pink Muhly grasses send up their breathtaking, iridescent plumes during September. In Central and South Texas, the Copper Canyon Daisies will become full with blooms this month. They are primarily fall bloomers. All this to say – it’s an exciting time to be outside and in the landscape this month!

Other things you should consider doing this month . . . . 

1. Clean out gutters before the leaves begin falling in October.

2. Trim trees during fall but before the leaves fall. This way you can easily see the dead limbs for removal, and see where the weight of the canopy may need attention.

3. If you’ve been thinking of putting in a new landscape or outdoor living space, September is a great time to do that. Installing landscapes in September allows for abundant time for plants/trees to get established before the stress of next summer’s heat sets in.

4. September is a great time to have your sprinkler system checked out, after performing at peak for the past several months. Mechanical things wear down, break, etc., so its best to get it checked out before it costs you.

5. If you haven’t done so already, apply your pre emergent and weed/feed now. Remember, conditions before favorable for fungus during the fall so keep your weed/feed spreader ratio lighter than the recommendation on the product. With pre emergent, the heavier the application the better your results will be.

6. Now that we’re about to get rainfall again, know that each time we get a rainfall of any significance, there will be an outbreak of weeds to follow. In the weeks prior to that rain, weed seeds were being blown around and many will find your lawn and germinate with a good rain. This is why we apply pre emergent.


Helping your fall color display, before fall gets here

Texas, or most of it, had a very dry summer this year. Some haven’t seen rain since late June. That can take its toll on trees, stress-wise, and ruin a good fall display.

So if you have Maples, Chinese Pistaches, Red Oaks, and other trees with beautiful fall color in normal years, you can help salvage some color by helping them as that time approaches.

For young trees, you can begin giving them water soluble fertilizer, such as Jack’s 10-30-20. Just a scoop per gallon mixed with water in a 5-gallon bucket will help get your trees out of stress and more able to perform the functions needed for that fall color change. Simply pour slowly around the base of the tree. Repeat this once a week or so but not so much during rainy periods.

Another product you can add to your mix is SuperThrive. There are plant hormones in that product that really make some species respond favorably. Most notably Maples. And let’s face it, there’s not many trees out there that can give the fall color of a Maple.

One tree I really enjoy seeing during the fall is the Sumac tree. It’s color will change from purple to red to orange to yellow before its show is over. Quite impressive and abundant in the wild in most of Texas.

For larger specimens in your landscape, just make sure the drip zone around the tree is getting plenty of water to make up for whats been lost over the summer. The drip zone is everything beneath the canopy to the edge of the canopy. Most of the tree’s roots are located there.



What is that thing on my Oak!

I received a question emailed to me the other day, I thought I’d share it here. I get this question a lot so maybe you’ve also wondered the same thing.

“I have this creepy knot looking thing that is growing out of the side of my Bur Oak’s trunk. What is going on? Is it diseased? What do I need to do?”

You need to do nothing. That knot is called a “burl” and is quite common and is not indicative of anything wrong with your tree. It can be indicative of past damage or stress however. That could be by injury, fungus, viral, and even insect and mold infestations. This is the tree’s way of dealing with the issue and healing itself, although it does leave behind an awkward looking place in the tree.

Many species of Oak’s respond this way as do Maples. It is highly valued in the carpentry field because of its unusual and dramatic grains.

Another question I receive often is about an “eye shape” that almost looks cut into an Oak trunk. This is a growth habit of the tree and not something to be alarmed with. Some trees shed their bark and grow new and it gets larger. While others will grow a sort of extension joint to accommodate growth of the tree.

What you should concern yourself with would be the “fungus balls” that will grow and hang from Live Oaks, particularly in the Central Texas area. Those are sucking nutrients from the tree and should be removed on a regular basis.

Late season flowers . . . 

I am seeing some requests for spring/summer flowers, still. This is the end of the spring/summer season so those flowers are going to be hard to find right now. It would be best to wait another month when the fall/winter flowers become available. We’ll talk more about those selections in next month’s column.

Perennial flowers are also going to be fewer in number this time of year at the nurseries.



The Exterior AC unit . . . 

Its been a long spring and summer with lots of mowing taking place during that time. Since this was an especially dry summer here in Texas, the amount of dust and dirt kicked up in the landscape was more than normal.

It would be beneficial to now take a look at that outside AC unit and clean the coils with a water hose. You would start by flipping the breaker to the unit, turning it off. Then remove the cover of the unit by unscrewing the various screws. Keep them in a safe place, you’ll need them later. Once that is off you’ll be looking at your coils and likely seeing it very dirty. 

You will want to clean by running water through the coils from the inside to the outside. This is why we cut the power so it does not suddenly turn on while your arm is in there. We clean from the inside to the out so the dirt does not become trapped inside the unit.

You do not want to apply much water pressure to clean the coils. Moderate to light pressure is recommended. 

If you’re not confident or comfortable doing this, call your local AC company and have it done. It can make a difference in your electric bill and your cooling/heating.

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)


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Sir, I laid some new sod this past spring and while it is growing, it's not growing as I expected and the dirt under the grass is hard as a rock. I read where aeration would help. I'm thinking of having it done but would it be too late to do that? Thanks as always for your help.

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2 hours ago, tejasrulz said:

Sir, I laid some new sod this past spring and while it is growing, it's not growing as I expected and the dirt under the grass is hard as a rock. I read where aeration would help. I'm thinking of having it done but would it be too late to do that? Thanks as always for your help.

No, its not too late. I would also throw in a topdressing of cotton bur compost. This specific type of compost is used to soften and loosen black clay soil here in DFW.

I've got another Longhorn here in Dallas who bought a house last winter. We took his lawn in April. It was hard as concrete. We had to do the aeration and topdressing twice over the summer just to get the soil back in shape.

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Franchise Quest

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    • View from the Cheap Seats-Iowa State   Welcome back defense, welcome back welcome back                   The youngsters might not remember the tune of Welcome Back Kotter, the show that gave us John Travolta but the tune is a catchy one.   And never so welcome a sight as to see Coach Orlando's crew make a YUGE statement on Senior night.   After 5 weeks of highly questionable defensive football, TEXAS fans were treated to the best defensive performance of the year.   Time to wonder where this D had been all season later.  For now, let us savor an evening where a whole bunch of seniors stepped up in a bigtime way and shut down the Cyclones very effective offense.  And give some love to our true freshmen Safeties as BJ Foster and Caden Sterns had nice nights as well.   The D was so stout, it would not be until the 2:16 mark of the 4th quarter before ISU reached the red zone down 24 to 3 and the game out of reach for all practical purposes.                  Many fans cringed when TEXAS won the toss and deferred.  Coach Todd's crew would reward the call by forcing a punt on ISU's opening drive and setting the tone for a game which decided one half of the BigXII Title game.   The D's efforts were complimented by a highly efficient ball control offense which saw TEXAS enjoy a 10 minute advantage in Time of Possession.  TEXAS' D, lead by their seniors,  played like we had not seen all year.   The D would force 6 punts and 2 turnovers on ISU's 11 drives and would only give up 1 trip to the red zone courtesy of an odd fumble in the 4th as TEXAS was trying to run out the clock giving ISU their only short field of the night.   And we would be remiss if we did not mention TEXAS logging 6 sacks while holding ISU to 5 of 15 on 3rd downs.                               One of the big questions for TEXAS and Coach Herman in the second half of the season is whether or not they could win, whether they could put teams away.   OU had scored 21 in the 4th requiring a very late FG for TEXAS to win while Texas Tech would put up 24 in the last stanza requiring TEXAS to drive late to win the game.   Then there were losses which coulda/shoulda/woulda been wins vs OSU and WVU where TEXAS failed to play solid D football.   No pressure Coach Herman and Coach Todd, win the game and you are in the driver's seat for a BigXII title game berth, lose and it's a debate over how much real improvement TEXAS enjoyed in their 2nd year.                   And let's set the stage, playing  for a berth in the BigXII title game thanks to Coach Mullett and the Cowboys last second rally vs West Virginia, this game had all the makings of another BigXII/last team with the ball wins shoot out.    TEXAS' defense had given up 21 points in the 1st half over the last 5 games and made some pretty average QBs look like Heisman contenders.     In a season of tests for Tom Herman and TEXAS, this was another big one, can TEXAS step up with everything on the line?  Can the defense answer the bell?    Wow, simply WOW.  The defense showed pride, passion and frankly played with something to prove in their best performance of the year.                     Now pre-season if you said the season would come down to beating a USC, TCU, OSU, WVU or OU. . . sure we buy that.     But it's #16 Iowa State coming to town lead by a true freshman QB who was playing lights out ball.    Wait.  . ..what?????     A ranked Iowa State team, in November?   Who would have thought that ISU would be such an important match pre-season?   Certainly not the networks as this was one of only 3 games between ranked teams this weekend.    Instead of a prime time ABC or Fox match up, the game was reduced to LHN with little of the country able to watch.                               Don't let TEXAS only scoring 24 points make you think the O did not play well, they actually played very well.  Up against the best run D in the BigXII, TEXAS' run game would rush for 179 yards to go with 226 yards through the air paving the way for TEXAS to almost double up ISU's total offense 405 to 215.   As mentioned, the offense would enjoy a 10 minute Time of possession advantage that helped the defense play fresh including 8 of 15 on 3rd down.   The biggest play of the game in the 1st half came with 4 seconds left as Sam E, having another great night, re-injures his shoulder not to return.   Enter Shane Buchelle in the 2nd half and TEXAS was largely playing in "hang on" mode.   In the 1st half, TEXAS would go on drives of 9 plays, 10 plays, 11 plays and 7 plays leading to 2 TDs, a FG and a FG attempt.     The 2nd half would open with 2 drives of 8 plays each, with the 2nd culminating in LJH's impressive catch and run TD.   We've become used to LJH balling out every game but have to mention some great run blocking and Tre Watson having his best night as a Horn in his last game at DKR.   He would finish with 14 carries, 95 yards, 6.6 per carry.   Some very tough running by both him and Keoatay Ingram who contributed 59 yards on 12 carries.    And props to our play calling which had ISU's defense off balance most of the night.   We give the play calling a bit of a pass in the 2nd half as TEXAS seemed fine playing stout D and running out the clock.   TEXAS would also play a largely penalty free game.   Key drive of the 2nd half was TEXAS' 2nd possession.   TEXAS would drive 69 yards on 8 plays leading to a 3rd quarter TD which put the game out of reach.  Shane was 10 for 10 passing and played well.                 Lil Jordan Humphrey would also become the 1st 1000 yard receiver for TEXAS since 2014 and John Harris' senior year.   With 3 games to go (assuming we beat Kansas), Collin Johnson sits at 730 yards so not far fetched TEXAS has 2 1000 yard receivers this year.   A pair of 1000 yarders has not happened since 2008 and the days of Quan&Ship.   5 Key Plays in winning   1st drive of the game, TEXAS' D steps up and forces a punt.   Dating back to OU, TEXAS' D had given up 4 TDs and 1 FG on each of it's opponents opening drives.   OK, not 1 play but certainly a tone setter for the evening   Chris Brown intercepts a tipped pass to snuff out ISU's 1st drive of the 2nd quarter.   Shane Buchelle hits Lil Jordan for 27 yards and a Touch down on a 3rd down play.  Now Shane gets credit for throwing the ball beyond the sticks to LJH but LJH literally throws off the DB draped all over him and runs the final 11 yards into the end zone to put the game out of reach.   Tre Watson  39 yard 2nd quarter run, TEXAS' longest of the season which flipped the field and resulted in a FG.   2nd quarter, TEXAS starts their drive at their own 6, 3rd and 6 at the 10.  completion to LJH for 8 yards but LJH and the pile drive for 20.   Single biggest play of a 94 yard TD drive.   Offensive player of the Game:   Senior and Grad Transfer Tre Watson.   His tough running keep drives alive and this against the #1 run D in the conference.     Just behind him, Lil Jordan Humphrey.   Defensive Player of the Game:   Kris Boyd.   Matched up with Hakeem Bulter who might be the best WR in a conference loaded with great WRs, Boyd was tested time and time again.   His biggest play was breaking up what looked to be a long reception by ISU's Montgomery.  His ability to fight through a receivers arms to break up receptions has been his strong suit all year.   Gotta give some love to a player who has largely been maligned.  Anthony Wheeler had a great game with 5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for losses and a sack.         Conclusions/looking forward                 Pre-season reaching the BigXII title game would be labeled a "successful season".    No reason to change that now.   Granted there were some ups and downs and we still have to travel to play an improved Kansas team on a short week.   Will make no bones we are cheering for WVU to beat OU.   TEXAS will need to bring Sat night's level of defense to either.   And the biggest question, how healthy is Sam?   Because as Sam goes, so goes the TEXAS team.   He went from a pre-season question mark of potential meaning he ain't done it yet to the unquestioned heart and soul of the team.  Just the Cheap Seats take but if he's not 90%+, we'd sit him vs Kansas and build the gameplan around Shane.   Winning the BigXII title in CTH's 2nd year would make an impressive statement and get Hager a hair cut.  Gotta say, the Willie braids were pretty cool.     Bold prediction, if the D plays like it did vs ISU, TEXAS is your BigXII winner vs either team.   In a shoot out, we like TEXAS chances vs WVU more than vs OU.    Which is not to say OU isn't beatable.    It would be great to make Murray "take the loss pussy" twice in one year.   Ranking the BigXII:   #1   Land Thieves:   Their game with WVU for the right to play TEXAS in the BigXII title game.  Winner of the BigXII gets most likely Georgia in the Sugar Bowl if they win.  If they lose, they are a candidate for one of the New Year's Day bowls   #2   TEXAS    Thank you coach Mullett for turning the TEXAS/ISU game into a battle for a berth in the BigXII title game.   Looks like Sugar or Alamo for the Horns as the Alamo Bowl gets 1st selection (Sugar being an automatic).   With the caveat that even with a loss, TEXAS might be very attractive to one of the 3 New Year's Day bowls.   #3  WVU.   Sugar or Camping World appear WVU's most likely bowl options but a 2 loss WVU with a Heisman candidate at QB might make for an attractive New Year's Day Bowl game.   #4  ISU.    Matt Campbell earning 2017's BigXII coach of the year is clearly well deserved.  Most likely coming back to Texas to play in the Academy Sports Bowl vs an SEC opponent unless one of the top 3 goes to a New Year's Day Bowl then Alamo here they come.   #5  OSU    Coach Mullet with an impressive end to the year 2-1 vs the conference big dawgs and a bad pass on a 2pt conversion from being 3-0.    Liberty or Cheez-it bowl for the Cowboys   The next 4 teams listed all must win their final game to go bowling.   You can also list these teams in about any order.   #6  TCU   Faces Okie Lite, betting they don't make it   #7  Baylor   Faces Texas Tech in a battle to secure a bowl spot   #8  Texas Tech   Faces Baylor to assure the BigXII a 6th bowl team   #9   Kansas State  Faces Iowa State, does Coach Campbell let 1 loss become 2?   Can the Wildcats send Coach Snyder out with a bowl trip?   #10   Kansas    They are improved, they are about to welcome Les Miles and we predict they make TEXAS work harder than they should in their last game of the season.       BigXII is assured 7 bowl slots.  The problem is that barring upsets, they may only have 7 eligible teams.   Would not be shocked to see the loser of the BigXII title game selected for one of the New Year's Day bowls so the BigXII might not fill all it's bowl slots.   Playoffs   #1 Bama, think they are in even if they lose their CCG   #2 Clemson,like Bama, even if they lose their CCG they are likely in   #3 Norte Dame, rolled a Top 12 'Cuse team, not sure a USC upset knocks them out.   #4  Michigan, as a 1 loss team, has to beat tOSU and Northwestern.   Barring upsets, the Top 4 are pretty solid but upsets raise some very real questions.   #5  Georgia, how do you keep the SEC champ out if they beat Bama and Bama gets invited either way   #6   OU?   They are eeking and squeeking by with win but do they have a shot at the final 4?   The Wacky Wild Card is none other than Wazzu and everyone's favorite pirate.   They have the Apple Cup with UDub this week then a Pac12 title game.             College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Process
      The CFP Selection Committee ranks the top 25 teams and selects the four teams to participate in the semifinal games. Then, after the contract bowls are filled based on conference agreements, the Committee will assign teams to fill the remaining New Year's bowls. Each conference champion from the contract bowls (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC & Pac 12) has a guaranteed spot in its contracted bowl or in another New Year's bowl (Sugar, Rose or Cotton) if the contracted bowl is a semifinal game and the conference champion is not selected to participate in a semifinal game. The highest ranked champion from the Mountain West, American, Conference USA, Sun Belt or MAC is guaranteed a spot in a CFP bowl and the remaining spots are filled based on the rankings of teams after the contract bowls have been filled. 

      College Football Playoff Bowls
      Orange (semifinal)
      Cotton (semifinal)
      CFP National Championship Game (Santa Clara, Calif.) 

      New Year's Contract Bowls
      Allstate Sugar - (Big 12 vs. SEC when Sugar is not a semifinal game) 
      Rose - (Pac 12 vs. Big Ten when Rose is not a semifinal game) 
      Capital One Orange - (ACC vs. highest ranked SEC/Big Ten non-champion or Notre Dame when Orange is not a semifinal game) 

      Other New Year's Bowls
      Goodyear Cotton
      Playstation Fiesta
      Chick-fil-A Peach 

      Big 12 CFP Contract Bowl Qualifier
      The Big 12 champion will earn the Conference's automatic berth for its CFP contract bowl slot.  

      Additional Big 12 Teams in the CFP
      If a Big 12 team(s) is rated in the top four of the CFP, it will play in one of the semifinals. This does not affect the Big 12 designee being placed in a CFP New Year's Bowl if it is not one of the top four teams. There is not a limit on the number of teams from one conference that can be placed in CFP bowls. Additional Big 12 teams may be selected for other CFP New Year's bowls based on their ranking in the final CFP Poll. 

      Big 12 Bowl Partners
      Once the CFP has filled its bowl slots, Big 12 bowl partners will make selections from the remaining bowl eligible teams. Following is the order of selection. A bowl may pick from any available teams when it reaches its spot in the selection order. 
      Valero Alamo 
      Camping World 
      Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl 
      AutoZone Liberty 
      Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Game Date / Time (CT) Site Matchup Network Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Dec. 22
      2:30 p.m. Fort Worth, Tx. Big 12 vs. AAC ESPN Cheez-it Bowl Dec. 26
      8:00 p.m. Phoenix, Ariz. Big 12 vs. Pac-12 ESPN Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl Dec. 27
      8:00 p.m. Houston, Tx. Big 12 vs. SEC ESPN Camping World Bowl Dec. 28
      4:15 p.m. Orlando, Fl. Big 12 vs. ACC ESPN Valero Alamo Bowl Dec. 28
      8:00 p.m. San Antonio, Tx. Big 12 vs. Pac-12 ESPN CFP - Capital One Orange Bowl Dec. 29
      3/7:00 p.m. Miami, Fla. Nat'l Semifinal ESPN CFP - Goodyear Cotton Bowl Dec. 29
      3/7:00 p.m. Arlington, Tx. Nat'l Semifinal ESPN Autozone Liberty Bowl Dec. 31
      2:45 p.m. Memphis, Tn. Big 12 vs. SEC ESPN Playstation Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1
      12:00 p.m. Glendale, Az. CFP ESPN Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Dec. 29
      11:00 a.m. Atlanta, Ga. CFP ESPN Allstate Sugar Bowl Jan. 1
      7:45 p.m. New Orleans, La. CFP ESPN CFP National Championship Jan. 7
      7:00 p.m. Santa Clara, Calif. Semifinal Winners ESPN    
    • Texas has only 8 TOs all year and 3 of those were INTs. Young may have had 2 fumbles all year. Now with only 41 carries so far, that's 1 fumble for every 20 1/2 carries. I'm not an expert on the ratio of fumbles per carries to know if that would define notorious for fumbling or not. It dawned on me watching the seniors come out of the tunnel last night that we lose a lot on defense.  Speaking of defense, I really liked what I saw last night. Iowa St's only TD came on 6 yard drive. Sam is our QB. The team plays different with him in the game. However major kudos to Shane. Came in and played a pretty good game. 10 for 10 on passing and had some nice runs. His only blemish was his fumble but he recovered it. As @Sirhornsalot stated in another thread, if LJ does come back next year, he should be a Heisman candidate. Pure stud. Nice write up @Harrison Wier. Now you need to work on your predictions.  
    • Jumping on a grenade has the same consequences as not short arming a pass when you know you’re going to get hit... I see it now.  I’d love to play you in poker if you don’t know when to fold’em.  
    • Agree.  Young has fumbled some, but Toneil Carter has the rep.