September Lawn & Landscape Tips

 
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September – the Welcome to Fall Month

For lawn and landscape enthusiast, September is an exciting time.  Nighttime temperatures gradually become cooler. Daytime temperatures start becoming enjoyable again. Even an afternoon in the 90’s doesn’t feel near as warm as it did in August.  Your lawn loves it.  Your plants love it.  And…we love it!

September is an important month for the lawn and landscape.  The activities you perform this month will make a big difference in the success of your landscape next spring.  But sadly, September is too often the month your outdoor environment starts to feel neglected as attention turns toward football, school and fall activities.   

Don’t let your lawn and landscape feel neglected this September.  Finish 2019 strong and get a head start on 2020 by checking off these lawn and landscape activities this month:  

Fescue lawn 2-3 weeks after fall overseeding.

Fescue lawn 2-3 weeks after fall overseeding.

Overseed – If you have a cool season lawn (fescue), now through October is the time to add more seed (overseed).  Fall is by far the most successful time to establish cool season turf.  This summer the excessive moisture in May and June resulted in more than normal brown patch damage.  If that wasn’t enough, July and August brought heat and draught.  For established fescue lawns, some years you can skip seeding.  But, this is not one of the years to skip. 

Also, if you have areas that have become too shady for bermuda, fall (not spring) is the time to transition to fescue.  Bermuda needs 8 hours of direct sunlight for best performance.  Anything less and it will begin to thin.  Inspect areas of dappled sun and consider overseeding with fescue this year.   Sooner or later you will have to introduce fescue in your lawn if you have trees. 

Fall seeded fescue lawns result in the best cool season lawns next spring.

Fall seeded fescue lawns result in the best cool season lawns next spring.

Success is easier if you start the process before the bermuda has completely faded.  Fescue is also a good choice for the narrow side areas of houses where the turf only receives a few hours of direct sun each day.

What are the keys to successful seeding? Good seed soil contact, a quality fescue blend, and keeping the seeded area tacky moist until the seed germinates. 

Example of a shady lawn that is thing and desperately in need of fall overseeding.

Example of a shady lawn that is thing and desperately in need of fall overseeding.

Fall Pre-emergent & Post-Emergent – Winter annual weeds germinate as temperatures cool.  Poa annua, annual bluegrass, is the first to germinate, followed by henbit and chickweed.  These are the weeds that will keep you from having a clean landscape next January through April.  When you skip the fall pre-emergent, you will be forced to use harsher products next spring to clean up the turf when you should be focused on developing a lush green turf.  For the best results, a fall pre-emergent should be applied to your lawn this month.   Also, many bi-annual weeds, such as dandelions, are easier to control in the fall.

Note:  DO NOT use pre-emergent herbicides now in areas that are going to be

seeded this fall.

Lawn Fertilizer – Warm season lawns, bermuda and zoyia, need one more application of fertilizer this fall.  This application helps strengthen roots and prepare the turf for winter. 

Fall is the best time to apply higher nitrogen fertilizer to fescue lawns.  Plan on getting the first fall feeding on fescue this month.  Even if you will be overseeding your fescue this fall, it is important to get fertilizer on the existing fescue this month.   

Insect Problems – If you have grub problems, they are actively feeding now.  You won’t see much damage now, but next spring you will.  Because they are small and feeding just below the surface, September is a good month to make a treatment.  Once we have a frost, they will work deeper into the soil to overwinter.  Only make an application if you have a history of grub problems.  Overuse of insecticides will also kill beneficial insects. 

Watch for fall webworm in your trees. Webworm create webbing on the ends of tree branches as the worm devours the leaves. Webworm can have more than one generation per season.  The earlier generations do not cause lasting damage. But, the last generation can result in die back.  To treat with an insecticide, you must penetrate the webbing.  The most effective approach of control is to monitor trees and prune out the web areas while they are small.  Place webbing in a plastic bag and dispose of immediately. If you leave the branches on the ground, you will be amazed at how quick the worms will be back in the tree.

Mowing – Continue to mow often enough that you are removing no more than 1/3 of the blade of grass with each cutting.  For warm season turf, maintain the height at or near 2 – 2 1/2” going into the fall.  Avoid cutting short or scalping warm season lawns at this time.  Anytime you cut below the leaf space and into the stems of the plant, you are causing stress.  The plant will use nutrients stored in the root system to generate new leaves.  At this time of the season, you don’t want to cause any stress that would require the lawn to use nutrients stored for the winter. 

For cool season, it is best to cut the lawn shorter before seeding.  This will increase seed to soil contact.  After the new seed starts growing, gradually increase mowing height to 3”.

When you don’t mow your Bermuda too low in the fall it will develop a stronger root system for the winter months.

When you don’t mow your Bermuda too low in the fall it will develop a stronger root system for the winter months.

When you cut below the leaf blade into the stem your Bermuda lawn will have a scalped, brown appearance.

When you cut below the leaf blade into the stem your Bermuda lawn will have a scalped, brown appearance.

 

Watering – On the average, Central Oklahoma received 3.5” of rain in the last 7 days. Soil moisture readings are near 100%.  We recommend you put your irrigation on a 5-7 day rain delay for now.  Through the fall, monitor weather and then water as needed.  As nights and days cool, and day length shortens, your landscape will need less water.  Typically, during September, you can start reducing the number of days you water. It is always best to maintain deep soakings and reduce the frequency.  At some point this month, it may be best to water every 4 days rather than on the odd/even plan.   

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Fall Color – Summer color will start to fade this month. Toward the end of the month or early next month you will want to replace your summer annuals with cool season annuals.  Pansies, mums, and kale are the dominate players.  Use more pansies than mums and kale since pansies typically overwinter and flourish the following spring. 

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I love fall!   Cool season lawns return to their splendor. Seasonal color is refreshed and trees and shrubs burst with brilliant color. 

But, as a landscape professional, my favorite aspect about fall is taking the steps needed to have a great spring next year.

If you need assistance with any of the September lawn and landscape tasks, or have questions concerning your lawn and landscape, give us call – (405) 367-3873. 

 

Lorne Hall

Hall |Stewart Lawn + Landscape