autumn landscape mainIt’s mid Fall and there is still much you can be doing for your yard. Just because it’s colder and leaves are falling doesn’t mean it’s time to ignore your landscape. By keeping up on your yard maintenance, and planning ahead for next year, your outdoor space will continue to look good year-round.

bulbsNovember is an especially good time to plant your spring bulbs. While these plants are referred to as spring-blooming, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses can actually start blooming as early as January. The plants do best where they do not get mid-day sun, making them a great plant for around the base of trees.

If you are planning a flower bed for spring, you will want to do a soil test first. It’s not an immediate turn-around, so the sooner you do it, the sooner you get the results and can prep your soil for planting.

AppleDo you have any fruit trees on your property? If you do, remove any mummified fruits then rake up and dispose of any leaves and branches. They can harbor disease over winter.

Fescue and other cool-season grass lawns should receive their third application of fertilizer. As the name indicates, cool-season grasses do the majority of their growing in the cooler weather, generally between September and June. This is why you should fertilize in the fall and winter and not in the summer. DO NOT fertilize warm-season grasses this late in the season. You can actually harm it by stimulating it to break its dormancy during a warm spell then causing it damage when the temps drop again.

PHOTO/Becky Griffin

PHOTO/Becky Griffin

If you do have warm-season grass and you noticed a fluffy, dandelion-like weed in your lawn during the spring to fall, you may need to treat your turf for trampweed. It’s a common weed in South Carolina, but it is starting to make appearances here in North Carolina according to the NC State Cooperative Extension. You can contact your local extension for advice and a plan of attack. Fescue and cool-season lawns should be treated for this weed in February.

Another lawn weed to treat for is wild garlic and onion. If your number of weeds is low, you can always pull this grass so long as you make sure to remove the bulbs and bublets, otherwise they will regrow. You can also use a trowel and hand dig them out of the turf. Regular mowing won’t kill the weed off, but can prevent it from seeding. There are no preemergence herbicides, only postemergence, and even those will need multiple applications to get the weed under control.

hansen irrig clockHave an irrigation system? Now is the time to winterize it and shut it down before the first freeze. Water will need to be drained from the pump and any water in the system will need to be removed, usually done by pumping compressed air to force all remaining water out. This is very important as any remaining water can freeze in the system causing a crack in the pump casing. Rainfall is usually plentiful for your turf’s needs this time of year, and if you water your lawn, you risk freezing it and that will cause it damage.

leavesDon’t slack on the leaf removal. There are many options for you when it comes to where to put those leaves. You can compost them, mulch them, till them into your plant beds, place them in the woody area behind your house, or bag them. Removing the leaves is crucial for your turf’s health as it deprives it from much needed sunlight, air, water, and nutrients. The leaves also become a breeding ground for fungi and insects. If you plan to mulch the leaves, don’t let the carpet of leaves become too thick or they won’t be shredded evenly.

There is no reason why your turf can’t be happy and healthy during the fall and winter as long as you take proper care of it.

mumsOctober is all about autumn and the change of the season from summer to fall. The cooler weather is not only easy on the electric bill, it’s also easier on your planting. Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. It’s also a good time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs. That’s right, they may bloom in spring, but you should plant them in the fall. Why? The soil is still warm, the rain plentiful, and the roots have a great chance to establish without worry of drought or snow.

If you haven’t already, you should take note of what worked and what didn’t in your garden before planting your new bulbs. Make sure you don’t plant shade-loving plants in full sun and vice-versa. You may want to do a soil test to make sure your soil isn’t too acidic or need any lime added to adjust the pH. You will need to till the lime into your soil, and since the results of soil tests can take a few days, the sooner you get it done, the better! If you are also doing vegetables, keep track of where you planted. That way, next year you can rotate where you plant in order to prevent disease.

BerkelyIf you are looking to add color to your cooler-weather garden, there are plants that are autumn bloomers. Winter pansies make a great splash of color while hardy mums bring that feel of fall to the landscape. Aster is another flower that will add a pop of color to your garden as well as your indoors. Russian sage can add a contrast to the autumnal colors while smelling great. The tough sedum is almost a must for autumn gardens. It survives summer heat and drought to burst alive with blooms in the fall.

Even though it is autumn, there are still many things you can and should be doing for your lawn. Watch out for white grubs. They not only destroy the turf by feeding on the roots, but they also attract moles and voles who will feed on them. You will find that the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis helps get rid of them, but it does take a little time to build up in the soil. Warm season turf may be fertilized, but do not fertilize cool season (fescue) if it has been overseeded. If you want to establish a cool season lawn, the best window to do so is September 15-October 15. Warm season grasses should be established next spring.



There are two turf weeds you should keep your eyes open for. Henbit is a sparsely hairy winter annual with greenish to purplish, tender, square stems. This weed reproduces by seed that germinate in the fall or winter and grows during any period of warm weather that occurs during the cold season. It can quickly invade thin turf areas where there is good soil moisture or shade. Dense, healthy turf is the greatest defense against the weed, but chemical control can be used as well. another annoying and difficult weed is nutsedge or nutgrass. The best time to eradicate this aggressive and persistent weed is during its growing period. First identify what type of nutsedge you have before using an herbicide.

Start dialing back your irrigation use. The weather is cooler and therefore the plants and lawn less thirsty. In fact, you may want to get your system repaired if there are any issues. Since the lawn doesn’t need constant watering, it gives you more of a window to get someone in to fix it. You will also find an irrigation specialist’s availability more open now rather than the beginning of next season when everyone’s irrigation system is started up.

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If you have an outdoor landscape lighting system, now would be a good time to ensure all lights are working, especially those lighting paths or entranceways. It’s starting to get darker sooner, making it important for the safety of everyone, that walkways, paths, and anywhere someone might walk, are lit up to prevent tripping and injury. If your lights are on a timer, some adjustment may need to be made (though once daylight savings ends in November, you will definitely need to fix the schedule on your timer).

leavesBesides the leaves on trees turning beautiful colors, they are also falling to the ground. There are many things you can do with those leaves. You can compost them. You can bag them. You can blow them to the woody back area of your property. You can use them for plant protection from the cold in your garden beds. You can till them into fallow garden beds too. Whatever your desire, make sure your landscaping service (or whichever family member is assigned that chore) knows what you would like done with them.

By taking these simple steps to maintain your landscape in the fall, you will end up with a stunning spring and summer outdoors.

ugly lawn pic logoEven though summer is winding down, it doesn’t mean it’s time to neglect your landscape. In fact, there are still many things you need to be doing to help keep your outdoors looking its best.

test tubesLet’s start with the flowers. Most of the blooming will be done for your spring and summer plants, so take note of what worked in your garden and purchase more for next spring. Store them in a cool, dry place until the weather gets cooler, then plant away! But, before you plant, you need to do a soil pH test. You may want to also test your vegetable garden if you don’t plan on fertilizing for any late crops. You should also divide your spring and summer blooming perennials.

brown patchIf you happen to have warm season grass, you can still be dealing with lawn disease such as brown patch and dollar spot, so keep your eyes open and treat accordingly. White grubs can also be present in your soil, and while the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis does a nice job on them, it does take some time for it to build up. Warm season lawns along with hollies can also be afflicted with spittlebugs.

????????????????????????????????????????????Different lawn types are going to require different treatments. Fescue (cool season) turf should be fertilized, aerated, and overseeded. Do not fertilize warm season grass! The planting of cool season lawns is best done between September 15-October 15. It’s best to hold off until next spring for warm season grasses. Henbit and nutsedge (nutgrass) may become a problem. Both can be controlled through herbicide, though nutsedge is a bit more difficult. Irrigation clocks may need to be adjusted as less water is going to be required.

web wormPecan trees may see webworms who should have started appearing in late August. There are both natural and pesticide controllers for this problem. Natural remedies include removing the affected branch and throwing away to handpicking the webworms off and drowning them in soapy water. For pesticide use, Carbaryl (Sevin, etc.) is a good product to rid the lower parts of the tree of webworm (please don’t try to reach the very tops!) The trees can also be afflicted with pecan weevils–little critters that make holes in the pecans.

plantsAnd finally, while we’re on trees, your may see leaves starting to fall. You can compost the leaves, till them into any fallow beds or vegetable garden, or have them blown and removed. Any trees and shrubs that you may want to plant should be planned for now, especially if you don’t want to miss out on them. There are plenty of nurseries around, but their supply is not endless.


Water is not only important for human survival, but also for plant survival. Most people remember to water their plants indoors, but what about outdoors? Sure, the rain takes care of a lot of the watering, however, if it’s a dryer than normal season, you’re going to need to step in.

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As a kid I am sure many of you remember running through the traditional sprinkler. Perhaps it was the kind that goes up and down. Or maybe it was the kind that spun? And then there was the kind that the dance move was named after. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, you need to watch this!) Of course, there’s always the other dance that accompanies the use of the sprinkler: the trying-to-get-it-placed-in-the-right-spot-without-getting-soaked dance. That’s always repeated several times as the sprinkler is moved around the yard to water everything.

If you’re not a dancer, then you should consider an irrigation system instead. There will be no need to move the watering system around the yard, no dance moves trying to stay dry, and no need to hook anything up and remember to turn it on and off. The irrigation system is on a timer allowing you to enjoy your summer without the constant worry of making sure you’ve watered your lawn. You may also notice a reduction in the amount of weeds appearing in your landscape.

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An irrigation timer turns the system on and off, letting the homeowner’s mind be on other things.

Now, if you are a sprinkler person, keep this fact in mind: a high arcing spray emitted from a sprinkler may blow away or partially evaporate before it hits the ground. That means you are losing water! It also means you will need to run the water longer, but that can oversaturate the areas that are getting water. Depending on your soil, you may end up with a lot of run-off. That again means you are losing water. An irrigation system will give you better control of your soil’s moisture.

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Another bonus of an irrigation system is the fact that is great for your home’s value. It keeps your lawn and landscape looking like a million bucks (and with the amount of money you probably invested in it, you need to keep it looking that way!) creating curb appeal. While it’s a cliché, you could be the envy of your neighborhood!

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Summer is an excellent time to have the system installed. This way the installers can see which areas will need more watering, which areas are shadier, and adjust your system accordingly. Your system will need to be shut off for the winter and started back up in the spring. Periodic inspection of the system is a good idea throughout the season in order to make sure everything is working right. A broken head or line will prevent your plants and lawn from getting the water it needs. Catching the problem sooner than later will save them.

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While a homeowner could install an irrigation system him/herself, it can’t be done in a weekend and requires proper adjustments of the system. A professional can install it and adjust it a lot quicker as they know what to look for and have the experience needed.

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