Good Gardening in 2018 

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SEPTEMBER-daylight length diminishes, meaning any routine or new projects for your landscape should be evaluated and prioritized. Looking back at previous months it has been a real interesting struggle, surprising though is region is actually 3" above normal rainfall, thanks to August opening Mother Nature's faucet. Landscape scenarios from below ground to tree tops are going to be a mixed bag of healthiness, fall tree color is still iffy, so in other words this month should be typically atypical like usual. Know that summer is in the rear view mirror and fall's emotional and real time is straight ahead. So keep your mental motors running because many of the thing done know will have a huge impact on 2019 plant's overall health and aesthetic performance.    

Here There Everywhere-plenty excitement to be experienced (seen, tasted, aroma, felt-pretty all senses can be stimulated)-from maturing fruits to colorful flora and foliage-penstemon, toadlily, anemone, awakening of cool season lawns, sweet autumn clematis, phlox, sunflowers (numerous), abelia, liriope, coral bells, mums, golden rod, cornflower, last harvest of summer edibles, butterfly weed, crepe myrtle, crepe myrtle, zoysia lawn, rose of Sharon, sedum live forever, phlox, sunflowers (numerous varieties), ornamental grasses, cornflower, herbs, butterfly weed and bush, Japanese painted fern, Russian sage, lamb's ear, roses, pyracantha, crabapples, yellow moneywort, fall edibles gaining size and strength, and...

Ready for Action-keep all tools (sprayers, spreaders, mowers, edgers, shovels, pruners...) ready for action-really important to reduce chances of spreading trouble clean (wipe with bleach / water mix) tools after removing / cutting / mowing any diseased plants / parts 

Fall Season Plant Buying-not matter if clearance or full price-before making that purchase-1). check stems, underside of foliage, along trunk / branches, foliage color and rigidity, root system drainage holes... - 2). is plant going to fit into landscape? where and is location ready whether in ground or container 

Stop Guessing, Get the Dirt-Soil Testing-find out what is going on underground, analysis will offer insight for you and or any professional that works in your landscape, this is especially true whether you are disappointed or not about any aspect of your landscape, knowledge builds / maintains a better yard, multiple samples / tests (i.e. lawn, perennial / shrub bed, vegetable garden...) should be done as each major plant group can have some very specific troubles anything from lack or low to abundant extravagant where a different planting may not be adversely impacted-save real and mental money find out what is brewing in soil

Unwelcomed Guests / animals or insects-each senses changes are occuring for some means life's end (worker ground hornets) or ‘fattening up' for times of less possibilities (moles, queen hornets, grubs) to claiming and marking territory (male deer) to plant damage (spider mites, Japanese beetles, slugs, cucumber beetles, fall webworms) are examples, if unwanted / unexpected signs, bugs, critters become obvious determine cause and decide what if any action is needed by yourself or professional service   

Weed Baton is Being Passed-warm season weeds (spurge, numerous grasses crab, goose, foxtail, violets, plantain, nut sedge) begin to diminish / disappear-control hand digging and post emergent herbicide (though effectiveness is lessened as temperatures drop below 70) for control--while cool / cold season lovers (henbit, chickweed, annual bluegrass, persian speedwell) germination / growth can be explosive (hand dig and pre-emergent for control)-action taken ASAP will be to landscape advantage because WEEDS-overgrow (reducing sunlight hours) desirable plants while robbing them and soil of moisture and nutrients

Home Grown Flavors-all summer vegetables production drops considerably daylight hours shorten, (even if air temperatures remain high) watch ripening gourds, pumpkins, squash, etc..., cool season broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach will continue growing, herb activity (annuals) harvest ASAP to get maximum aroma flavor, when harvesting perennial herbs only cut  off ½ at most, clean up bed / pot 

Leaf Debris-falling from your trees, blowing in from who knows where will collect in low spots (correct this with addition of topsoil / compost), no matter depth can be trouble for lawn, perennial, vegetable, herbs, annual, ground covers and any recently installed plant material by harboring insects, triggering fungus / disease / bacteria -routinely remove by blowing, raking, mowing to reduce potential worries

Colorful Annuals-existing pots / beds if given care (water / fertilizing) could provide several weeks of good rewards until frosty temperatures-new fall color (ornamental cabbage or kale, zinnias, pansies...) extend landscape color-rama (potted or in ground) if cared for (fertilized and watered during dry spells) deep into fall, generally consider new mum purchases as annuals-many times roots aren't able to establish adequately to survive wintertime freeze / thaw heaving of soil 

Tropical-Immigrants-summer (caladiums, banana, canna, elephant ear...) bulbs / tubers-aesthetically decline along with amount of daylight-signs include if any new growth foliage size smaller, lack of flowering, many can be dug and stored (basement vs. garage) for replanting next mid / late spring-how - cut off stem / foliage just above crown, carefully dig and pry up out of ground, allow soil to dry, shake off soil, put in paper bags / cardboard boxes (newspaper between layers) place in cool dark dry locations-Household Members Spent Summer Outdoors-if returning indoors thoroughly check stems, foliage (top and bottom), potting mix for fungus gnats, aphids, scale... damage from disease, storm / wind damage and address problem (pruning-roots, upper growth) application of pesticide (insect / fungus)  before making move inside, same applies to plants that stayed in the house-plants on major decline consider discarding as recover during fall / winter iffy-    

First Time Sitings or Reoccurring Alien Growth-shotgun / artillery fungus, puffball, mushroom, toad stools... grow only on dead plant material only i.e. thick lawn thatch, imploding woodie plant roots, un / improperly composted material worked into or laid on top of soil, un-rotted kitchen wastes fresh manure...generally are not harmful to living plant material-do cause aesthetic agony-there is no treatment to rid or accelerate dying off process

Lawn Chair Quarterbacks-Get Up Get Moving-Be Smart-Get Professional Help as Needed-well cared for and maintained Cool (bluegrass, fescue) Season lawns will awaken from summers downtime-review history of care maintenance-determine best course of action; core aeration / compost application, dethatching / power raking, overseeding, total renovation of large or small areas, fertilizing (seed starter, fall formula) sodding (prepare soil first), healthy Warm (zoysia) Season lawns will keep good aesthetics but no fertilizing, core aerating or dethatching-All Lawns-need 1" water (rain or irrigated) every 7-10 days, mower blade height 3.5-4.0"-herbicides-post (actively growing) emergent herbicide application effectiveness diminishes if temperatures below 70, pre (germinating seed) emergent can kill any seed weed or lawn

Workings at Plant Farm (some unaided others require work)-unaided summer annuals (i.e. castor bean, sweet alyssum, portulaca) and perennials (purple cone flower, sweet autumn clematis, hollyhocks) can self-seed (produce and drop viable seeds that will germinate next year), others (black eyed Susan, zinnia, columbine, hyacinth bean vine) may self-seed or collect seed and store, requires work / perennial plant (prepare transplant location prior to any detachment) dividing (mint, sedum, strawberries, asparagus, hosta, ornamental grass, ferns, coral bells, pachysandra, Asiatic and day lilies, bergenia, thyme, butterfly weed), only divide healthy plants, 2 options 1). dig entire plant (includes stem, crown and root) split into pieces each with stem, crown and roots 2). remove ‘pie wedge' piece with stem, crown root-when backfilling holes blend infill with surrounding existing soil 

Rehabbing, Building, Eliminating Bed Spaces-evaluate existing plants (determine if keeping or not-remove-toss, giveaway, or place in holding spot), measure square footage, (rehab add 2-4", building add 6" eliminating add 2"-soil amendments 1-2 cu. yds. per 100 sq. ft. depending upon objective) rototill / spade creating uniform blend of existing soil and amendments, rake level and slope away from any hardscape / structure-Plant Installation Tips-remove flowers, any damaged stem, branches, dig hole-3X diameter of root to aid in lateral growth but only 80% as deep to keep crown above surroundings, gently spread roots, back-fill firming soil around roots, water, monitor soil moisture for 2 weeks to prevent dehydration, water if plants appear wilted in morning not during heat of day, if returning area to cool season lawn see Lawn Chair Quarterback, too late for zoysia


One Liners

All Plantings-established need 1" water (irrigated / rainfall) every 7-10 days, new installs need more

Conifers-will drop interior needles

Spider Web-can be seen in multiple locations, inspect to make sure not fall webworm or spider mites

Newly Seeded Lawn-don't mow until 3" in height

Roses-no fertilizing or spent flower removal, prune off any broken, damaged overly sagging growth

Mulch-add to maintain 1-2" around perennials or 3-4" around woodies, water area before applying

Spring Bulbs-purchase, store in cool dry location, prepare bed / containers install after mid-October

Pruning Spring Blooming Trees / Shrubs-reduces next spring flower count doesn't harm plants

Summer Blooming Shrubs-will continue to flower until frost, can be pruned then


AUGUST-allows for continuing enjoyment of summertime floral / foliage dramatics, while opening door of thoughts of what needs to be purchased, evaluated, set-up, started in preparation for late summer early fall workings, though totally summer you’ll notice later in month daylight length shortens, this should cause day and night time temperatures to modify giving much relief to heat exhausted plant world and gardeners, it’s beginning of summers end which triggers new thoughts, colorful visions, fall attitudes and work ethics

Perfect Time to take soil sample(s) for testing-go on line for drop-off or ship to locations

Garden Centers-focus will be turning towards fall i.e. new shipments of woodie and herbaceous plant material ready for installation, spring flowering bulbs (purchase store in dark cool location, earliest planting date mid-October thru mid-December, fall fertilizer for cool season lawns, pansies to perk up pots or bed spaces are just a few reasons to stop by also Rolling Dice-end of summer season plant material sale there can be some great finds be patient give a close scrutiny to avoid disappointment and or introducing troubles to your landscape 

Don’t forget Check Brightside St. Louis-about their annual spring bulb sale, go to

Haunted by Annual Weeds-consider application of pre-emergent herbicides (in gardens and or lawn) mid to late month, many cool season annual weed (i.e. annual bluegrass, chickweed, henbit…) seeds dropped last spring and have been waiting for cooler temperatures to germinate-Reminder if you are considering re-seeding lawn areas – Do Not apply pre-emergent in those locations – pre-emergent will kill any / all germinating seed including lawn grass seed

Last Chance Houseplants / Tropicals (in or outdoors)-fertilize and make sure to keep watering, those varieties that bloom in winter will require fertilizing when bud set becomes obvious, begin close inspection related to insect and disease presence-get control before moving plants indoors

Correct Watering Now-is part of getting plant / roots ready for winter-1” every 7 days-all plants strawberry patches, lawns, perennials, ground covers, vines, roses, shrubs, trees, etc. reminder watering for longer time periods, less often drives moisture deeper and can help plant / root system health-ideal time is morning but anytime works exception being evening-could trigger explosion of disease/ virus / bacteria problems   

Keeping Up-routine care / maintenance on all actively growing plants (potted or in ground) could mean several more months of aesthetic rewards, especially annuals (marigolds, begonias…) and summer bulbs / tubers (caladiums, dahlias…)   

Here, There, Everywhere Are You Seeing Webs-large (multiple inches across usually at end of branch / twig) likely beneficial spiders that catch many troublesome bugs, not to be confused with small (1” across) webs by damaging spider mite which can be gotten rid of with strong steam of water or miticide application

Cutting Back-pruning any spring flowering tree or shrub won’t hurt plant but will reduce flower quantity next spring, pruning can be done to summer and fall bloomers again eliminating flowering for late summer fall of this year, cutting off more than 25% could increase chance of fall / winter weather related foliage or stem / twig damage, cutting back and removal of perennial plant debris is advised reducing insect and disease potential, deadheading underperforming annuals could trigger another bloom sequence  

Herbs-morning harvest peak time for aroma and flavor, don’t fertilize and minimize watering

Wanting to Make Changes-(either converting lawn to garden space or garden space to lawn) get area soil prepared now for conversion late month or in September steps; outline area (flags, hose, or landscape paint)-review a few times to insure satisfaction, then remove existing plants (kill, discard or hold in protected location in ground or pots, keep watered), apply weed control-once weeds are ‘dead’, rototill or spade area then level, use weed control on any growth, purchase 1.5 cu. yds. compost or compost blend mix per each 100 sq. renovated / converted area (this will raise area allowing for settling) as weather cools either begin sodding / seeding lawn or plant installation, keep new installations watered to prevent dehydration

Divisions-spring / early summer flowering sun or shade perennial varieties if foliage is yellowing, can be split, this will allow plenty of time to acclimate to new location, best to water night before to insure maximum root mass    

Throwing Hands Up in the Air-headaches and or heartaches-first step determine overwhelming cause; weeds, bugs, soil, disease, physical, wildlife, bad plant selection, siting or installation, lack of proper care / maintenance are just examples of problems-don’t jump to conclusions before taking any action be sure of what you are going after-reminder there are very few circumstances (even if correct solution is used) where instant results occur can take multiple attacks to eradicate completely of this is especially true in our outdoors where timing of treatment is crucial (i.e. crabgrass killer at this time may kill ‘mother plant’ but seed production has been happening for months-these seeds will germinate next spring)-REMEMBER Professional Help-internet, phone call or garden center visit

Grass-Landscapes Magic Carpet-cool season lawn activity begins to increase as warm season lawn slow-things that can be done in bluegrass or fescue care and maintenance options include; core aerating / top dressing ½” compost, overseeding, weed control (pre and post emergent), insect / grub control, virus, bacteria, fungus diagnosis / treatment, installation of sod (with commitment to watering for establishment) keep mower blade height at 3.5-4.5” longer blades offer shadowing to reduce sunburn damage, fertilize warm season (zoysia) before months end fertilize for last time-REMEMBER tree roots have a huge impact on lawn success, and no lawn in this region will be picture perfect-year round can’t happen!

Anxiety Producer-moles-surface tunneling seeking earthworms main diet (eat little plant material-but tunneling undermines root systems causing dehydration but do consume any type of insect they cross paths with i.e. pill bugs, grubs, centipede, millipede) while tunneling for earthworms mole control-action flatten all surface tunnels most active areas will pop up within day next control by placing several traps along active tunnel, or mole hunting-sitting watching for tunneling activity then quickly stabbing down or digging up in hopes of a kill-(side bar abandoned mole tunnels can be used by other damaging rodents i.e. voles, mice eat / damage plant root systems)

Grub-ology-(beetle larva)-regionally 5 different types-annual, May, green June, and Japanese each damages / attacks plants differently from underground root system to foliage and flowers, this month they are near surface description body curled in ‘U’ shape, head brown, three pairs of legs, abdomen shiny / transparent if 6+ are found in 1 sq. ft. of lawn severe damage could be done-apply grub control immediately most damaging to plant material is Japanese (adult grub) beetle (shiny bluish green) effective insecticide use by spraying directly beetle, or control options systemic insecticide, knocking off into cup of soapy water to kill, or traps which attract males minimizing breeding numbers   

Stinging Truth-up close and personal (hovering around food / drinks) are yellow jacket / ground hornet (that bite / sting both) workers gather nourishment returning to in ground nest (usually hidden i.e. under shrubbery) to feed queen which only survivor through winter, laying eggs following spring-USE CAUTION very aggressive-consider contacting professional service to KILL

What the Heck is That and Why-galls-lumps on mainly red oak tree branch / twig (cause newly hatched small wasps burrowing into twig ignites bloated growth)-treatment ineffective, fire blight-brown branch tips on apple family members both ornamental (including pears) or fruiting, rose rosette-maroon canes large number of thorns and or distorted flowering-remove plants immediately disease transmitted by variety of spider mites, fungus / mushroom-growth occurs on dead plant parts (roots, trunks, branches, twigs) or surface of mulch -no treatment, if found in lawn could indicate dethatching is needed (for cool season lawn only this time of year)-REMEMBER depending degree of problems some infected plants are best removed vs. treated

It’s A Wrap - One Liners

Mums-newly purchased (though perennial) roots may not have time to acclimate for winter survival

Roses-continue application of fungicides for black spot and other diseases

Annuals-revive if stretched out, underperforming, cut back ½, fertilize and keep watered

Fertilize-fall blooming perennials i.e. mums, asters, toadflax…

Powdery Mildew-on foliage of perennials, annuals shrubs is aesthetic / cosmetic  

Bearded iris-any that didn’t bloom this spring, dig up and discard

Hedges-if pruning make sure bottom is wider than top, encourages lower foliage growth

Spring Flowering Woodies (serviceberry, holly, dogwood, viburnum, etc.)-fruit color starts showing

Equipment (saws, pruners, mowers)-keep blades sharp and disinfect after using on diseased plant 

Insect Activity-watch for-fall webworm, bagworms, pine moth, spider mites, scale, borers





Good Gardening--To each and everyone that stops by-I say to you the world of life and gardening is simply wonderfully wild and crazy

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