Q: My lawn looks pretty bad from all the heat and lack of rain. I know that fall is the best time to revive it. It is just starting to turn green in areas and it has a lot of tan dead grass. What should I do to have a good looking lawn again?
K. L. of Belleville
A: With the cool evenings beginning to show up again makes the best time for reviving ‘cool season’ grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, and fine-bladed fescues. Start by power-raking the entire lawn areas to remove all the thatch (dead grass plants and the dried out leaf blades). You need to make one pass with the power rake from the east to west and another from north to south. This will remove all the dead clippings and prevent the fall rains from running off and not soaking into the soil.
Next you can select grass seed that you desire. One blend of grass seed that you can use is named ‘Sports Turf’ which consists of fine bladed fescues. This blend will germinate fairly quickly. You will not find this blend in most of the large commercial suppliers of everything. But the smaller garden centers can supply you with this blend. You will need to sow six to eight pounds per 1,000 square feet. At this time of the year we should begin receiving the fall rains to save on your water bills. You will have to water any time that you do not have adequate rainfall about one inch of water should soak into the soil per week. You can also apply a turf fertilizer at one actual pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. (Divide the first number of the fertilizer bag into 100 to find how many pounds of nitrogen is necessary for one pound of nitrogen).
You will eliminate the germination of weed seeds at this time of the year as the sunlight duration keeps getting shorter and shorter as the fall continues and the temperature of the soil will drop slowly at this time as well. Most of the other plants will not actively grow in the fall. Once the grass plants grow to three inches you can make the first mowing. But only mow off one inch of the grass blade per week.
Then the next fertilizer treatment should be around Thanksgiving as the air temperatures have dropped to slow down the turf growth. You will need to work off the Thanksgiving meal anyhow.
Q: A lot of my trees have dropped leaves and/or showing fall colors or turning brown. There are others that have browning around the edges of the leaves. Is this a sign of stress? If it is, what should I do?
G. S. of Caseyville
A: With this year’s dry weather, your trees are showing stress. Even though we may have received some rain, the trees showing these conditions are giving up on continued growth for remaining months of this year.
A lot of signs will not show up until the spring of next year or even the next couple of years. Drought-stressed trees and shrubs may become more susceptible to problems of diseases and insects in the coming spring as well. Twigs may dry up and even entire branches may die. You should definitely check the conditions of your trees.
Don’t waste your time and money by spraying the trees for these insects and diseases as the life of the deciduous leaves are just about finished at this time.
If you notice large limbs that have died on your trees, you may want to consult an arborist about the condition of your trees so that if pruning is necessary, it could be done in the winter months.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Department, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things to do this week:
- Make sure your evergreen trees and shrubs are well watered now.
- Be thinking about moving your houseplants which were placed outside, may be slowly acclimated to less light to conditions so there will not be a large shock moving these plants inside.