You can read this month’s blog as somewhat self-serving to a nursery or garden center like the Arbor Gate, or you can take it as the sound advice that it truly is from someone who has written about the horticultural world in and around Houston for nearly 16 years.
This is the absolute best time to get busy in the landscapes, lawns and gardens!
And it’s the best for so many reasons on so many different levels. First, October and November have long been recognized as the two best months to do landscaping work. October is also considered the optimum months to start getting the “cole crops” in for your fall/winter vegetable gardens. None of those rules have changed, despite the drought. But because of this past summer’s drought, we finally have some moisture and finally have some cooler temperatures and that tells me that there are relatively no more excuses to not re-do or renew your gardens today.
The one excuse: If you are still on severe watering restrictions.
To me, landscape renew or re-do is more than just replacing a lost shrub, it’s also the best time to plant trees, allowing them to get their root systems established before our first cold spell. The fact is, that any type of landscape work employs that same tenet — allowing the roots to get established well before a first freeze. But when it comes to trees, they top the list for this botanical necessity.
This is the time to “change out the color” as well. If you don’t know what I mean by that, well then get to a garden center soon and just see for yourself all the fall and winter annuals and perennials that are in stock. Loosely translated, it means it’s time to rip out the vincas and put in the pentas or put in the marigolds or put in the petunias or put in the allysum or put in the… well, I hope you get my point. If you’re wondering why I didn’t say pansies, my official planting date for those is October 30th, moving forward. So, while we are close, I still want it to be a bit cooler before that traditional fall color goes in. I apply the same rule to cyclamen, the shade loving winter color.
Also, don’t forget that the month of October is the best time to jump back full-force into my fertilization schedule, or any fertilization schedule for that matter. There’s always the need to put out winterizer/fall feeding types of fertilizers. It’s the time to put out the pre-emergent herbicides to block the weeds seeds that will likely be the clover and the poa aunna. And finally, it’s often times to be prepared to prevent brownpatch with a number of fungicides on the market. If you’re not familiar with my fertilization schedule, then here’s the link to it.
And finally, it’s time to replace the grass, especially for those of you who lost sections of the yard due to the drought. Solid sodding now is much like the previous landscaping ideals, in that you can get the root systems established now, and they will reward you early in the spring with a much faster green up and fill in. However, re-sodding now will not give you the most beautifully “full” lawn, because you will likely notice the seams of the newly laid grass for months. But it’s also the best time, because that’s when you can get the best prices on solid sod. Keep in mind, it has to be solid sod, because there is no such thing as St. Augustine seed, and this is the worst time of the year to put out Bermuda seed. This leaves one other option that I normally abhor, but am willing to bend on this year — Winter Rye!
If you can’t afford solid sod, and you are in desperate need for some kind of grass especially for erosion control for the next 4 months, then Rye grass seed is a bonafide option this year. But remember, just like the old Kill-Till-Fill&Sod method I’ve made famous on the GardenLine radio program for years, you’ve got to remove all the dead grass in order for the Rye seed to make contact with the soil. Just sowing Rye seed over dead grass will never work, and will absolutely look like my analysis of “the balding man’s COMB-OVER”. If you’re going to do it; do it right. If you don’t get a good germination of the seed, and it’s hit-and-miss out there, then you’ll understand what I mean with the “comb over” analogy. You may think it looks good, but everyone else is sort of snickering at it.