FALL IS FOR PLANTING AND RENEWING
BY GEORGE EDGAR
has NOT been a NORMAL year for plants!!!
In Nebraska it seems we say this every year. But I think this has
truly been a strange year and a hard year for plants. So much so that
Iowa State University Extension Service published an article on
“Stressed-Out Plants”. (Horticulture & Home Pest News-July 25,
March we had unusually warm weather and everything seemed to break
dormancy early. Buds began to break and I can’t remember plants
beginning to grow so early. Then in early April in Lincoln and most of
Nebraska we had at least four nights when the temperature dropped to the
teens. In my garden it took care of the raspberries,
trees, the plum trees, and the pear
trees. It did not kill the trees but I did not get any fruit. The STAR
MAGNOLIA had been in full bloom for a week and all the flowers
turned black. I did get a handful of CHERRIES
from the “NORTH STAR” CHERRY
the “HERITAGE” RED
RASPBERRIES and the “FALL
GOLD” RASPBERRIES are loaded and I am ready to start enjoying them
on my cereal and sharing them with our 12 year old granddaughter. The
fruit trees look very good and should produce next year, if we don’t
get a late frost next year. My tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins are doing
great as I put them in later than usual.
positive benefit from the late frost is we did not have all the
helicopter seeds from our big Maple
tree and Gladys did not have a snowy white yard this year from the big COTTONWOOD
In the lawns,
the grass started to green up in March and too many homeowners put on
their pre-emergent crabgrass control too
early and then did not put on a second application in June. Therefore,
we have many, many lawns with an abundant crop of crabgrass and other
weeds. The rains in May and then the above average heat in July and
August, also has put stress on trees, shrubs, lawns, fruit trees, and
even annuals. Containers have had to have extra water this summer.
The big question is: WHAT
DO WE NEED TO DO NOW!!! As the title of this article suggests, “Fall is for planting and
renewing!!” If you have a dead tree, shrub, or plant, fall
is the time to replace it. If you have a bare spot where some perennials
did not make it, now is the time to fill that spot. August is the time
to plan and prepare your course of action and your soil. What are you
going to put in that spot? Drive around and see what other people have
that appeals to you or go to your garden center and ask what is new or
what they suggest. FALL IS FOR PLANTING!!!
second part of the title suggests that fall
is the time to renew. The best time to dig and divide IRIS
is in August and early September, and for PEONIES,
September. In renewing your trees and shrubs this fall, be very
careful when and how you prune. If you are not sure, talk to an expert
at your garden center or call your County Extension Educator. DO NOT PRUNE spring blooming shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, bridal wreath
spirea, and flowering
almond. They should be pruned after they bloom next spring.
Fruit trees and grapes are best pruned in late February or early March.
The best time to prune most deciduous trees is also in late February or
March before they leaf out.
you are not planting grass seed, September is a very good time to aerate
you lawn. Core aeration involves removing plugs from your lawn and this
needs to be done at least once per year in order to provide good
drainage and help thatch to decompose naturally. Thatch does not come
from grass clippings left on the yard. Thatch is caused by over
fertilization and is from the crown of the plant. As I said, core
aeration helps thatch to decompose naturally and is not as hard on the
lawn as power raking. Specialists recommend power raking only if the
thatch is unusually bad.
you are renting an aerator or hiring a lawn service to do it for you, be
sure and check the length of the tines on the machine. New tines are 6 inches long.
If the tines are 4 inches or less, have them put on a new set.
They don’t take long to replace so wait until it is done. If
you have hard clay soil, which is most of us:
Water your lawn thoroughly
two days before so tines can go in easily
Rake in fine compost or a
soil amendment such as Structure or Profile. Do not add gypsum as it is
a waste of money and does no good in Nebraska. Also, do not add lime
unless you have the results from a soil test that recommends it.
· Water in your fertilizer.
two most important times of the year to fertilize your lawn is around
Labor Day and then again between Halloween and Thanksgiving. The winter
application comes the day after you put your mower to bed for the
Overseeding or renovating your lawn is best done after the middle
of August and before the middle of September. Aerate your lawn as
outlined above, then wait a day or two and apply a starter fertilizer
and your grass seed. Take the seed so it gets good contact with the soil
and then start watering. The worst thing that can happen to your grass
seed is to have it dry out. A
light mulch of straw helps to conserve moisture. You will have to water
at least once and possibly twice a day to keep it moist, not soaking
Make sure you use a blend of the best seed you can find that is
specifically for our Nebraska clay soils, and is disease resistant. You
will not find this at a grocery store, or a box store, or in a discount
store. Cheap seed in a box will have grasses not suited for Nebraska and
will not be disease resistant. Cheap
seed or the wrong seed will cost you quite a bit more in maintenance
costs over the next 5 to 10 years than if you buy quality seed now.
DON’T BUY CHEAP SEED!!!
One last precaution: DO
NOT FERTILIZE TREES, SHRUBS, ROSES, PERENNIALS, AND POND PLANTS AFTER
THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST. Fertilizer promotes growth and any new growth
from a late fertilization will not mature and harden off sufficiently to
withstand our Nebraska winters. Wait and fertilize these in the spring.