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September Landscapes – The Heat Wave is Broken!


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The Heat Wave is Broken!

September brings welcomed relief for drought-plagued lawns and landscapes

After such a brutal summer, September is a welcomed sight.

Our heat wave has broken. We’ve witnessed the return of rain phenomena (lol). As a result, things are perking back up in the landscape and lawn.

Before we proceed, lets take a look at where we’re at and where we’ve been. The climate always walks hand-in-hand with landscaping as this summer has just shown us. We widely regard the summers of 1980 and 2011 as two of the toughest, hottest summers we’ve experienced. In those years, we had 71 days of 100 degree heat (2011) and 69 days of 100 degree heat (1980). This year we’ve had 58 days of 100 degree heat.

By comparison, last year we had eight days and the year before, we had 9 days.

So our landscapes took a beating this year. Thankfully, rainfall has a real replenishing effect on our soil, as it carries nitrogen and extra oxygen molecules with it, enabling plants to intake more nutrients. Tap water does not have the nitrogen and extra oxygen. This is why your lawns and landscapes turn vibrant and green after a rain event as opposed to watering them with a sprinkler.

Additionally, our lawns took a beating from the Chinch bugs, as we had an epidemic type presence this year. Those who have Bermuda lawns, your lawns should recover almost entirely. Bermuda is a native grass here. However, St Augustine and Zoysia are not, so those lawns will likely need to be re-sodded to repair them.

The Chinch bug issue is not over, mind you. When checking temperature records for the summers of ’80 and’11, the last day of 100 degree heat came in late September. There is a good chance our heat is not finished and when it gets hot again, those Chinch will start feeding again. They are not as active during cooler weather, such as upper 80s and low 90s. They are not active when it rains, as well.



Change your Watering Times!

On Labor Day, we switch our watering start times from evening to morning. So if you have been starting your watering cycles in the evening, this is the time to change them back to morning starting times.

We do this in order to help prevent lawn fungus. Our nights will be getting longer and cooler, and our days will become shorter as we go into Fall. Watering in the morning helps because the lawn and landscape have time all day to dry out before night fall.

You should also reduce the days you have been watering. We’re not in the 100s any more. Right now three days a week is fine.

Reduce your run times, as well. If you have been watering 15 minutes per zone, shorten that to 10 minutes per zone. As we get into October, you may want to reduce that more.



Time to Fertilize!

We normally like to put our third fertilization of the year down between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31. We did not do that this year because a heat wave was still going on and Chinch bugs were highly active. Now that the heat has broken, we can put down that last round of fertilizer for the year now.

Since we’re going into Fall and we don’t want lawn fungus to become an issue weeks down the road, back down on your application ratio. For instance, if the product says to put your spreader at setting 13, back it down to setting 11. The reduction of ratio will help you avoid lawn fungus. The nitrogen in fertilizer, when put to a lawn, can be like gas to a fire for fungus.

As always, water the lawn as soon as you put down the fertilizer.

This is also the time to put down your second round of pre-emergent. Being faithful to this application is important because it has a cumulative effect, meaning, the longer you use it the more effective it becomes. This product does not kill weeds. It prevents weed seed germination, protecting your lawn against weed seeds that can blow in from other properties. We will be doing another application in early November.

With pre-emergent, there is less worry because there is no such thing as too much. The more you put down, the more protection you will have.


Time to Trim those Trees!

Fall is a great time to get those trees trimmed. However, you want to get this done before the Fall leaf-drop occurs. Trimming when you have the leaves still on the tree helps the dead limbs stick out and gives us a better view of problem spots.

You want to trim away limbs that are dancing on or near your roof or roof line. Trim any branches that are rubbing or touching your home. Raise the canopies so that you’re able to easily pass under the tree and giving the tree a proper shape.

Most trees will have what we call “sucker growth” or “suckers.” This is the random growth in the wrong places which have no real hope of ever being anything. These can be around the base of the tree, such as Crape Myrtles. Or they can grow out of other limbs, such as with Live Oaks. We call it sucker growth because they are sucking the nutrients that should be dispersed in the upper canopy. So removing the sucker growth will actually help the health of your tree as well as improve appearance.

Seasonal Flower Change

For those of us who have seasonal flowers (Spring/summer then Fall/Winter), the time to make that change is coming soon. You will want to get those flowers purchased and in the ground as soon as you can in October. Don’t procrastinate, get them in early.

The reason I say this is because doing so gives your Pansies and Kale a chance to grow their roots before the weather turns cool. Once the weather turns cool, root growth is limited. Planting early means you’ll have bigger, better developed Pansies.

Make sure you fertilize them with Pansy food after planting.

Rye Grass installation

If you’re going to overseed your lawn with Winter Rye Grass, October is the month you want to do this. The earlier, the better off you are. Again, doing so early gives the Rye time to grow their root systems. Waiting until cool weather is here will mean your rye grass growth will be limited.

You will need to scalp your lawn to begin the process. After scalping, rake up and remove the grass waste. The more you can remove, the better off your rye will be. You must have soil-to-seed contact. In fact, I recommend spreading a little topsoil lightly over the lawn after you’ve seeded. You will also want to apply a fertilizer in the 25-0-0 or similar range. This will aid the rye germination. Apply the fertilizer again in December.

After application, you will need to water the seeded lawn twice a day for two weeks. After that, you can move to a normal watering schedule of twice a week.

Winter rye grass makes for a beautiful lawn during a time when most people’s lawns are brown. Winter rye is a lush, deep green. You need only mow it once every two weeks.

(Readers can post questions here or contact me at greenthumbtx@verizon.net)


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  • TFloss32 pinned this topic
  • 3 weeks later...

On the lawn, there's really nothing you need to do outside of keeping it moist for the first 2-3 weeks. 

In early November, put down a pre-emergent. Then again during the first week of February.

April 1 for the first feeding, and not a day sooner!

For the new trees, where will these be located?

For a larger tree, go with a Shumard Red Oak. Spectacular fall color, large expansive canopies that are naturally perfectly shaped so very little trimming needed. They will grow almost anywhere in Texas. One other thing . . . after the fall color is over and the leaves turn brown, they will stay put until late February when the new buds start coming out. They do not contribute to Fall clean up. Shumard's will grow to 60 ft high and 50 ft across. Great shade tree.

For a medium sized tree, I like the Chinese Pistache. These are not from Texas, but do incredibly well here. They have spectacular fall color that rivals that of a Maple. They are deciduous. They will top out at about 35 ft.

For an ornamental tree, my current favorite is the Forest Pansy Redbud. This redbud is much the same as the others but it features burgundy leaves during spring and to mid-summer (when the leaves turn green). So it has more bang for the buck, color-wise.


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New trees will be located in my backyard.  

Trees will be approximately 10-11 yards from the house so they don't have to be large trees when fully grown, but just enough to shade the yard and maybe the back of the house a little.  I'm thinking I'll put them hammock distance apart but it will be a long time before they can support my fat arse.  



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26 minutes ago, BigL said:

New trees will be located in my backyard.  

Trees will be approximately 10-11 yards from the house so they don't have to be large trees when fully grown, but just enough to shade the yard and maybe the back of the house a little.  I'm thinking I'll put them hammock distance apart but it will be a long time before they can support my fat arse.  



You definitely don't want a Shumard Red Oak then.

Another medium sized tree would be either an October Glory Maple or Autumn Blaze Maple. They are virtually the same Maple except their Fall colors are different. The Glory has more yellows and oranges while the Blaze has more reds and oranges.

But those would work with the space you're talking about.

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3 hours ago, gmcc said:

SHA  I want to thank you for your contributions to both this site and the regular hornsport blog.  It must take a considerable amount of time.  thanks again, and this is Not a johnny deep posting

Well, for me its where two things come together that I love – landscaping and Longhorns.

The column I post here is also posted on my blog and on Facebook's Green Thumb page.



Hornsports is a great place. Lots of football talk. Friendly people. No food fights. I love being here.

Thank you!

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