You may think September should bring a cool down but here in North Carolina it can still feel like the middle of summer. Even though it may not feel like it yet, the weather is changing for the better including lower humidity (which many plants become stressed over) and lower night time temperatures (which grasses and roots love because they can recover after a hot day). So you still may not feel like it’s time to look at doing anything outside, but it’s the perfect moment to start. And if anything, don’t wait until the middle of October when frost and freezes become a possibility.
Looking at Your Landscape
Right now you probably see some of your grass coming back after the serious stress it went under this summer. It might have been dry, skinny, not growing and possibly brown, but now it’s probably growing, is less brown, and the blades are thicker. It will keep recovering. Be patient but look below for other things you can do for the promise of a great start to a lawn next year and a healthy lawn through the winter.
Your plants are probably in the same situation. The best thing you can do is clean them up – no pruning but definitely remove fallen leaves from around the plants, remove dead or diseased limbs and leaves. Spray with any insecticidal soap if needed.
Right now the Crepe Myrtles, Rose of Sharons, Knock Out Roses, Sedum and other perennial plants are in bloom right now. And the south’s favorite border plant, Liriope (otherwise lovingly known as Monkey Grass) is blooming too.
Plants and Trees
Right now we’re seeing many of the summer blooming shrubs begin their decline as their flower heads deaden.
Hydrangeas are most likely looking this way and you may be seeing signs of fungus on their leaves – causing them to turn brown. Too much water and watering top down or rainfall can cause this. Remove leaves that are mostly brown and make sure you throw them away along with any other leaves that fell on the ground. Take care of the rest of the leaves by squirting them with a fungicide. Definitely do not prune a hydrangea right now – wait until late winter or early spring as the buds start to form.
If your plants have holes in the leaves, you have little bugs eating away and enjoying the feast on your plant. Use good old Sevin Dust or if you’d rather go organic, Spinosad, Neem oil, or for some a little spritz of water with dish detergent will do the trick.
Deadhead and pinch back flowers that need it unless you want them to self-sow now. This encourages new and bushier growth. Examples of plants that love it: Knockout Roses, Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia), Mums, Marigolds, and Coneflower. But! If you want them to self sow do not deadhead or pinch them back. Let them go to drop their seed.
Keep weeding and watering! If you are getting less than an inch a week, then make sure plants that are not drought tolerant are getting water. Try watering them deeply in the early morning every 3 days instead of every day as well. Look out for wilting leaves on drought tolerant plants – this is a clue they need some water. Be careful of plants susceptible to root rot and not overwater them. Weeds will steal the precious water from your plants, so get rid of those when you can by spraying or pulling – or both.
Do not fertilize any plants or trees from here on out.
Also, right now is a great time to transplant and add shrubs or plants to your landscape where you might need to introduce some fall bloomers. September is the best time to snatch up the best looking plants!
Now is the time to start considering your bulbs. You can move irises, peonies, and daylilies while they are still showing. Just make sure you plant the rhizomes of the irises and the eyes of the peonies no deeper than an inch or so. New bulbs can start to be bought and stuck in the ground for the spring towards the end of the month and into the first part of October.
We also offer a division and moving of plants service for you as well as adding in new plants and bulbs! Click Here to contact us.
Absolutely do not cut back your azaleas, forsythia, and other spring flowering shrubs. Also do not prune at this point any other shrubs, new growth could result and with a hard freeze or frost in October that new growth would cause damage to the plant.
By all means though, go ahead and prune off any dead, damaged, or diseased limbs or shoots even on those shrubs. Make sure you throw them away and don’t leave them lying beneath the shrub to invite disease to the plant. I carry around one of those big blue Ikea bags for weeds and pruning. It is so convenient!
Some of you have had some good storms and it causes damage in your trees and shrubs. Cut off those damaged limbs and pull them out of the shrubs too if any fell into them. Clean up is very important to a healthy lawn and shrubs.
Suckers may be growing on the bottom part of your Holly trees, Crepe Myrtles and other similar trees that naturally want to be more shrub-like. Go ahead and take those off.
If your Hostas (aka Plaintain Lilies) have holes in their leaves with burnt edges, they’re in the sun too much or in the heat of the afternoon sun. Towards the middle of this month you can replant them to a shadier spot. And if you have to have Hostas in that spot find a Hosta that can take the sun better like Guacamole, Sun and Substance, and Squash Casserole. Also Hostas should be divided if very big to keep them healthy. Plus this just gives you more plants for your yard!
Other plants also need division to maintain health and you can create new plants from those. This is a great time of year to do it. Some of those include ornamental grasses, Peonies, Irises, Hydrangeas etc.
Keep planting annuals, especially the cooler season annuals like Pansies, and you can actually start planting shrubs now!
Fall is the best time to plant shrubs because it gives them a chance to establish their roots so they have a jump on growing outwards in the spring and producing their best show, rather than waiting in the spring for their roots to establish then put on a show.
Right now is the perfect time to lay sod.
Now is the time to start working on your lawn for next season. Labor Day marks the traditional end to summer and with that, the time to start thinking about over-seeding, pre-emergent, and fertilizers for cool season turf. Additional information about over-seeding can be found here.
Warm season turf (Bermuda or Zoysia), is on the backside of the growing season. These turf types will benefit most from minimal Nitrogen (N) fertilization and moderate Potassium (K) fertilization. Pre-emergent applications are also recommended for warm season turf at this time.
As we move into fall, keep in mind that you are laying the foundation for next season’s success with everything you do in your yard. A little expense now will pay big dividends in the spring and summer.
Check out our other posts for more info on irrigation or other turf care topics.