Time to think about lawns and other chores

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 13, 2013

SALISBURY — September is a transition month when most people are burned out with vegetable gardening. Lawn care and maintenance is a big part of September chores, but homeowners have other questions. Below are a few that you may have pondered.
Question: I plan to aerate and reseed my lawn next week. If I keep the lawn evenly irrigated, do I have to use straw mulch? I don’t like to use mulch because of the weeds. Will I have a stand of grass without straw mulch?
Answer: Your grass will germinate, but it will germinate much quicker and you will have a stronger stand if you use some type of mulch. Try to use clean wheat straw. Some home improvement stores have paper mulch that is completely inert with no seeds and also contains a starter fertilizer. This type of mulch works well for small renovation projects.
Question: What is that large shrub in front of the Agriculture Center with the yellow blooms? It has really beautiful flowers.
Answer: The plant is yellow senna, Cassia corymbosa. It can grow into a tall, upright, fast growing shrub with large clusters of yellow blooms from late summer to winter. The plant can easily be trained into a small tree. Senna is both heat and drought tolerant. Requiring full sunlight, its yellow blooms are also attractive to some butterflies. It’s also a deer resistant plant.
Question: We have a fig bush that is loaded with figs, but will not ripen. What causes this?
Answer: There can be several reasons for figs failing to ripen. Figs have a long juvenile period and it may be three to four years after the plant is set before the bush will set a crop. The unusually cool weather also affects the ripening process of figs and other small fruits which are adapted to warm climates. If it’s an older bush and has never set a crop, it might be a California type fig that does not pollinate well in this area. These cultivars require a special wasp, which is not native to our area. If this is the case, replace it with a rooted shoot or cutting from a known productive mother bush.
Question: I want to reseed my lawn, but I need to kill existing Bermuda grass. Can I still kill Bermuda grass before I reseed?
Answer: Yes, Bermuda grass is best killed when the grass is actively growing in the heat of the summer and early fall. There may still be a few days to control the weed but don’t wait too long. Once temperatures reach the 60s during the day, it becomes difficult to kill this grass. Glyphosate (Roundup and other herbicides) is a systemic herbicide that requires the plant to be actively growing to work.
Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.