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Darrell Blackwelder: Still lots to do in the garden

There are many garden tasks which need attending to before the permanent arrival of cold weather.  Cooler weather this week is a sure indicator that fall weather is on the way.

Homeowners with newly planted fescue lawns have the ultimate challenge at this time of year to keep them free of fallen leaves. Spent leaves block light necessary for maximum cool season turf growth. Newly emerging grass is very tender and great care should be taken with leaf removal. Mowers with baggers work well removing unwanted leaves, if leaves are not wet. Put the leaves in the compost bin for next spring’s compost.

Many shrubs need a light pruning, which should not be a problem now. It’s important to wait until spring for heavy-duty pruning on most evergreen shrubs. However, avoid pruning azaleas and other spring blooming shrubs until after they bloom in the spring.

Cool season fescue lawns can also be fertilized on a regular basis in the fall. Fescue needs constant feeding during cooler weather to maximize root growth and strengthen the plant over the winter months. Time is becoming short to over-seed bare lawn areas. Weak lawns need to be re-seeded as soon as possible to establish good growth before the winter.

Newly seeded lawns also have weeds popping up with the fescue. You can use a broadleaf herbicide now to control the weeds, but you need to make sure the grass is well established. Broadleaf weed herbicides can be applied after the lawn has been mowed at least three times.

It’s important to make sure the turf is established well enough to survive herbicide over-sprays. Controlling broadleaf weeds early helps reduce weed pressure in the spring when they can be difficult to control.

Now is the time to divide and replant perennials. Dividing them now gives the plants time to re-establish an extensive root system necessary for good growth in the spring and summer months. Daylilies are an example of perennials that must be divided every three years to maintain vigor and bloom production.

Summer blooming annuals look ragged and it’s time to take them out and plant winter annuals. Pansies and other fall blooming plants should be planted now.

It’s never too late to have your soil tested. Now is an excellent time to sample soil, avoiding the new costs now assessed for soil testing. Usually the results arrive in time to correct problems before planting. Soil sample test kits and information are available from the Cooperative Extension Office located on Old Concord in Salisbury.

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