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September Landscapes – Switch to Morning Starts!

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Switch To Morning Starts on the Sprinkler Settings Now!

Fungus prevention is critical as we move into fall

Labor Day is the day when we switch our watering start times from evenings to mornings. It seems like such a simple thing and simple things can often be discarded without consequence. But this is not one of them.

It is vitally important that we make the switch to morning waterings. This will help prevent the conditional setup for lawn fungus as well as other fungus in the landscape. Those with St Augustine turf are particularly vulnerable during the fall.

Fall is made for fungus. The conditions become right and allow it to flourish. A homeowner with a sprayer and some fungicide can remedy it, but unless you change the conditions, it will likely return within a week or two.

Why is preventing fungus damage so important?

It’s important because it happens during a time of year when grow-back or recovery is highly unlikely. As temperatures cool, grass growth slows down. When temperatures are in the 50s at night, there will literally be no growth. We’re not far away from that time. So whatever damage the lawn suffers, it may be late next spring before you see the area fill in unless you re-sod it.

Here is a list of some things you can do to reduce the chances of fungus forming in your lawn and landscape:

1. Change your watering start time to early mornings at Labor Day.

2. Reduce the amount of water you’re putting onto the lawn. If you’ve been watering three times a week at 15 minutes per zone. Reduce to 10 minutes per zone.

3. If you haven’t already put your fall fertilizer down, do so as soon as possible. And when you do, reduce your spreader setting/ratio. For example, if you normally have a spreader setting of 9 for this application, change to 8 instead. Less nitrogen will help reduce fungus chances as fungus will feed on the nitrogen.

4. Lower the blade on your lawn mower by one notch to allow more sunlight to reach the soil surface.

5. Fall tree trimming will allow more sunlight onto the turf, which reduces fungus risk.

How will I know that my lawn has a fungus?

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What is probably the most common lawn fungus in most parts of Texas is Brown Patch. It is distinguishable by it’s round shape. It will start out small, then grow in all directions outward, creating a larger ring as it goes. Round spots that have dead or dying turf are to be taken seriously.

Take-All Patch and Dollar Spot are other fungus we deal with, but much less often.

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What do I do if I discover that my lawn has Brown Patch?

A liquid fungicide, sprayed over the affected area and also a 8-inch perimeter of that area in the green grass, is the answer. You will likely want to spray again a week or so later just to be sure its gone. You should also stop and examine what it is that is causing the fungus in the first place. Once you’ve figured that out, respond accordingly. Sometimes, it’s just low places in the landscape which have no drainage.

 

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Not All Projects Are The Same. Ask The Right Questions
At Green Thumb, we build a lot of things with stone. We build flagstone patios, chopped stone borders, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, etc. And when we do, we employ steel rebar to keep our creations solid and in one piece. Even doing this is not a guarantee that breakage won’t occur, but it goes a long way in keeping it together for much longer durations of time as opposed to not using rebar.

In my opinion, this is a critical question to ask when you’re speaking with a landscape company proposing to create a border or patio for you. The reason is our black, gumbo clay which will contract, expand, erode, shift. If rebar isn’t in place, patios, borders will simply fall apart in short time.

On television, you’ll see a commercial from one of the contractor advisor services which states that they’ll tell you what your job is supposed to cost by comparing other such projects in the area. What they can’t tell you is – are we talking about the same patio?

So often, bids are undercut simply because the rebar is left out of the project. They save labor and material costs doing it, and pass along a lower cost to you. While you’re pretty happy for a few weeks after the project because of the savings, that can quickly come crashing down when a few weeks later, you see the first crack/shift in the stone. Some small cracking in the joints is to be expected over years, thats not what I’m referring to here.

 

Winter Provides Reason for Tree Trimming

I’ll repeat this again next month, but given the fact that we’ve missed out on winter for the past three years, you might anticipate that this year – we’ll get winter. That can mean ice and snow or sleet.

When we do get snow and sleet, one of the things I worry most about are the trees. Especially the ones that have not been maintained very well. In those instances, the canopies will be heavy. Add ice and snow to that canopy and suddenly you have limbs breaking or worse.

So it would be wise to take the opportunity now to address your trees and have them trimmed to reduce the weight they’ll have during the winter.

Most don’t know this, but Pine Trees of all types will shed about a third of their pine needles during late summer and fall. This is done in anticipation of snow/ice accumulation during winter. Like we’re trying to do with trimming, it reduces the weight of its canopy naturally, making breakage during winter much less likely.

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

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