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8 IMPORTANT FALL GARDENING TIPS

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fall gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gardening season is coming to a close, but it’s not entirely over yet. If you’re an avid green thumb, you can still squeeze a little more out of the growing season. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of the end of the year and how to get your garden set up for next year.

Plant Bulbs For Spring Flowers

Fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs like tulips, irises and crocuses, which need a winter freeze to start their growing process. By getting them in the ground now, you will ensure a colorful garden by early spring. For best results, plant bulbs once temperatures are in forties and fifties, but several weeks before the ground completely freezes.

Look for Discounts

Get a jump on next year’s garden by buying gardening equipment, seeds and plants at discounted prices. Many garden centers slash prices in the fall months to move unsold stock. Store seed packets in the freezer to keep them fresh, and keep discount seedlings going indoors until you can replant them next spring.

Repot Overgrown Plants

If a summer’s worth of growth has caused your plants to outgrow their homes, take some time this fall to replant them in larger containers. Dense or compacted soil, poor drainage, or roots creeping out of the bottom of a pot are sure signs that plants are root bound and struggling for more space.

Winter-Loving Plants

Depending on what region you live in, winter doesn’t have to be a dead season. Some hearty plants like kale, lettuce, broccoli and chard thrive in colder temperatures and can even tolerate the occasional frost. As long as snow stays off the ground and the temperatures don’t dip below freezing for too long, these plants will continue to grow, allowing you to garden into the winter months.

Plant Some Quick Growers

September isn’t too late to grow a final crop. Many vegetables can go from seed to table in as little as four to six weeks, giving you vegetables by late October or early November. Radishes can be grown in around 25 days, and some leafy greens like spinach take as little as 40 days to grow, so get in a final few vegetables before the frost sets in.

Plant Shrubs and Saplings

If you plan on adding trees and shrubs to your yard, fall is the best time to do it. By planting these plants in the fall, you’ll give their roots a chance to get established and avoid the withering effects of the summer sun. You’ll want to plant trees and shrubs in the ground a few weeks before the first frost, and if you live in an area with colder temperatures and heavy snows, wrap their  branches and leaves in burlap to protect them from their first winter.

Trim Perennials

Once your garden has gone to seed and perennial plants have run through their life cycle, it’s time to trim them back. Not only will it clean up an overgrown garden, but it will give the plants more energy next year, and limit potential garden problems like powdery mildew or insect infestations.

Fertilize the Lawn

While it might look like your lawn has shut down for the season, a little lawn care in the fall months will guarantee a lush, green garden next spring. Growth slows above the surface in autumn, but beneath the soil, your lawn is still hard at work establishing strong roots. Help it out this fall with a good mix of phosphorus-rich fertilizer, which helps strengthen roots.

How to Deal with Grass Fungal Diseases in Your Lawn

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Irregular patches of fungal disease in centipede grass lawn.

Lawn fungal diseases take on a variety of forms – from dead-looking brown patches to highly visible spots, threads, rings, or slimes. And once they strike your yard, grass fungal diseases can be difficult to treat.

Fortunately, the right lawn care practices can go a long way toward prevention and treatment; and in severe cases, a fungicide can help eradicate the spores to keep it from spreading. Here are some tips for preventing and treating fungal diseases in your lawn.

Mowing grass in yard with lawn mower

Mowing your grass too low can encourage fungal disease.

Causes of Lawn Fungal Disease

Your lawn is naturally full of fungi and spores, some harmless and some problematic, but the right (or wrong) conditions can cause grass fungus to erupt into a harmful disease. The most common causes of a lawn fungal disease are:

  • Drought
  • Improper mowing (especially mowing too low)
  • Compacted soil
  • Overwatering
  • Too much fertilizer (or using the wrong kind)
  • Wrong grass type for your yard
  • Weather conditions (particularly temperature and humidity)

How To Identify Lawn Fungal Diseases

Signs that your lawn may have a fungal disease include:

Brown patch of dead grass in lawn

Brown patch of dead grass in lawn.

  • White, yellow, or brown patches or rings that grow in diameter.
  • Thin patches of frayed, distorted, or discolored grass blades.
  • Gray, black, red, orange, or purple spots on blades or stems.
  • Gray, black, or pink powdery or threadlike coatings on and around grass blades.
  • Areas of darkened, wet-looking, slimy, or greasy-looking grass.

Common Lawn Fungal Diseases

There are quite a few fungal diseases that can impact lawns, but they’re usually pretty specialized, targeting specific lawn types, at certain times of year, under certain conditions. For example:

  • Brown patch strikes during hot, humid weather.
  • Fusarium blight prefers hot, drought conditions.
  • Dollar spot tends to spring up when nights are cool and dew is heavy.

Before treating your lawn, it’s important to identify not only whether your lawn indeed has a fungal disease, but to identify the fungus itself. All fungicides aren’t the same, and some diseases can be easily treated by making changes in your lawn care.

Knowing your grass type and recent weather conditions can make it easier to narrow down, but you may need help in figuring out exactly what’s going on. Your local cooperative extension center is your best resource for determining which diseases are most common in your area, or you can take a small baggie of the infected grass to your local garden center for help.

Using a fertilizer spreader to apply antifungal treatment to lawn

Applying an antifungal treatment may be necessary to treat severe cases.

How To Prevent and Treat Lawn Fungal Diseases

A simple change in your lawn care practices may be enough to prevent or eradicate lawn fungal disease. At other times nature may deliver a soggy spring or summer heat wave that just can’t be helped. Stressed or unhealthy lawns are much more likely to develop disease; so the better you care for your lawn, the better the grass will be able to handle the natural conditions in your area.

Follow these steps to help take control of fungal diseases in your lawn:

    • Soil Test: Conducting a soil test can not only identify nutrient deficiencies that lead to stressed lawns and disease but sometimes can be used to diagnose the disease itself. Check with your local cooperative extension office for more information.
    • Aerate: Loosen soil by aerating your lawn every year or two.
    • Top-Dress: Apply and rake in a layer of rich, organic top-dressing to improve the soil, increase drainage, and help combat disease.
    • Dethatch: Remove thick buildups of thatch in your lawn to allow the soil to breathe.

Sprinkler watering lawn.

Improper watering can lead to lawn fungus.

    • Grass Type: Rather than fighting nature to have an exotic lawn, choose a grass type that’s suited for your climate, soil, and light conditions. Well chosen lawns are stronger and able to fight off the normal fungal spores native to the area.
    • Go Organic: Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other lawn chemicals can upset your lawn’s ecosystem – allowing disease organisms to grow unchecked. Using organic materials helps keep your lawn in balance.
    • Fertilizing: Both over and under fertilizing can promote some fungal diseases. Choose organic, slow-release fertilizers for your lawn, and apply them exactly as instructed. Avoid excess nitrogen, which creates a fast green lawn with very poor defenses.
    • Watering: Water early in the morning, to allow the grass blades to dry during the day. Give your lawn one inch of water per week, and use a rain gauge to keep track. Water deeply, but less frequently, to encourage stronger roots and to allow the water to absorb properly.
    • Mowing: Follow good mowing practices, including keeping the mower blades sharp and mowing your lawn to the correct height. Scalped lawns are much more vulnerable to fungal disease. If your lawn has diseased patches, be sure to wash and disinfect the underside of your mower after each use.

Antifungal grass treatment for lawn.

  • Air Circulation: Many lawn fungi develop under moist, still conditions. Thin out trees and shrubs to allow air to circulate all over your lawn, and plant shade-tolerant grasses under trees.
  • Snow: Avoid walking on or compacting snow in your yard during the winter, since heavy snow layers can breed snow molds that emerge in spring.
  • Go Natural: If certain areas of your lawn are prone to fungal disease due to conditions you can’t change, consider naturalizing the area with groundcovers or flower beds that will be better suited to those conditions.
  • Organic Treatment: Applying organic treatments – such as neem oil, compost tea, or a weak baking soda solution – can help with small patches of fungus.
  • Fungicides: If all else fails, look for a fungicide (preferably organic) that’s rated specifically for your lawn disease. Fungicides won’t help your grass regrow, but they’ll get the fungal spores in check so that your improved lawn care practices can take effect.

Gardening Tips For July

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Gardening in July: This is one of the most productive months in the garden, but there’s still time to plant and plenty to enjoy

Perennials

  • Keep up with deadheading bedding plants, sweet peas and roses. The flowers on dahlias will need to be cut off once they’ve started to fade.
  • Many of the traditional English cottage perennials such as lupins, delphiniums and geraniums are starting to look past their best now so cut them right back down and they’ll resprout. They may not flower again but they’ll look a lot better.
  • delphiniums in a garden
Fruit and vegetables
  • Water and feed everything regularly, especially tomatoes, to avoid problems. Also tie them in to their canes and pinch out the side shoots if necessary.
  • The last sowing of French beans and carrots can be done now. Transplant purple sprouting broccoli and winter leeks to their final position, or buy them as plugs from a garden center or nursery.
  • Keep sowing seeds for salads, a few at a time, as well as autumn crop peas, turnips and spring cabbages.
  • Keep an eye on apples and plums to make sure there are not too many on each stem and thin out if necessary – just three or four is enough.
  • There should still be some strawberries ripening. Check there is enough straw under the plants to keep fruit off the soil. If you’ve been pegging down the strawberry runners, by now they should have formed enough roots to enable you to transplant them, either to pots to keep safe until they can be put in the ground, or straight into a new strawberry bed.
courgettes - nice ripe Zucchinis growing over garden fence

Harvest

  • Strawberries and other soft fruit should be ripe and ready to collect now.
  • Pick and freeze or dry herbs so they can be used later.
  • A lot of the earlier-sown vegetables will be ready in July, for instance peas and broad beans, French and runner beans, globe artichokes, carrots and beetroot.
  • Keep an eye on fruit; cherries, peaches, gooseberries, raspberries and early plums are really starting to ripen.

Watering

  • This is something that’s easy to do, but easy to get wrong, and often the main problem is under watering. If you spray an area of planting for one minute and move on, the water is unlikely to have gone deeper than a few millimeters into the soil, so won’t have penetrated anywhere near the roots.
  • You need to water like a rain cloud. One way to test this is to put a jam jar in among the plants you’re watering and stop when there’s about 2cm of water in the jar. That’s likely to take about 10-20 minutes on each area, which is understandably daunting. It’s one of the reasons why leaky hose systems, which deliver water to the soil via a porous hose and operate at the turn of a tap, are so appealing.
  • It’s a good time to get rid of strongly growing perennial weeds such as ground elder and bindweed. Use a systemic weed killer such as glyphosate that will enter the weed through its leaves and should kill it off.
Planting trends from the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Roses

  • July in rose-growing circles is known as the month for black spot. If you find it, remove the affected leaves and spray the plant with fungicide. The same goes for another fungus, mildew, which can also become a problem in July if the roses are stressed by having too much or too little water. Try to spray the fungicide early in the morning so you don’t affect any bees that might be buzzing around the plant. Finally don’t forget to deadhead the roses to keep them flowering.
Pink rose flowers in a garden

Roses are the epitome of summer but check for pests and diseases in July

Lawn

  • Keep mowing the lawn if it’s not parched and, if it’s looking tired, July is the last opportunity to apply a summer fertilizer. If it’s dry you may need to water your lawn. Use a specialist lawn weed killer if necessary.

Hedges

  • If you have a conifer hedge, especially a leylandii one, keep a close eye on it at this time of year for cypress aphids. It’s difficult to see the aphids themselves so look for brown patches in the hedge and a black sooty mold along the stem. If you find it, the best thing to do is prune out any brown shoots and spray affected areas with pesticide.

Deadheading bedding plants and border perennials is important to keep your displays looking fresh and tidy. Get more flowers in borders, containers and hanging baskets by adding a liquid feed once a week.

IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING…

…Go into borders, lift leaves and have a look around. Often it’s not a good idea to go looking for problems, but in the garden it pays to have a rummage, as the fresh growth of the past months can hide and feed pests, and weeds can grow unseen under it.

Helpful Summer Lawn and Garden Tips

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13615047_1371441292870497_6253295095098226131_nHere’s some helpful Summer lawn and garden tips:

Chores and Maintenance
– If rain is lacking, practice water-wise horticultural techniques

– Determine which plants are most important, and water them first

– Water plants early in the day through drip irrigation or hand-held hose with shut-off nozzle

– Re-apply mulch to plantings to help conserve moisture

– Allow lawns to go dormant; they will green up again when rain returns

– Continue to remove weeds that compete for water

– Continue to stake floppy plants and vines

– Mow lawns regularly to keep grass height at 2 to 2 1/2″

– Continue to aerate and moisten compost pile to speed decomposition

– Continue to apply acid mulch to azaleas and rhododendrons, and other ericaceous ornamentals

– Apply a summer mulch to rose beds to preserve moisture and control weeds

– Deadhead annuals and perennials to encourage continuous bloom, and cut back any rampant growth

– Continue to spray roses weekly with a baking soda fungicide (See June for the recipe)

– Remove any fallen leaves and debris that can harbor insect pests and disease organisms

– Pinch back asters and chrysanthemums one last time

– Finish deadheading rhododendrons and lilacs

– Continue to apply deer repellent