Historically, around each Oct. 1, I issue a reminder that October and November are the two best months for installing and re-doing landscapes along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Last year, someone pointed out that most of the area’s best landscapers are already booked by October. So, this time, I’m giving you the 411 a little earlier.
And let me open the window a little wider: the last week of September through the first week of December (assuming we have no freezes) is an ideal period for getting busy with landscapes, lawns and gardens in our area.
October is also considered the best month to incorporate “cole crops” in fall and winter vegetable gardens, when we do the “winterization” or fall fertilization for lawns, and the time to put out pre-emergent herbicides to block weed seeds, especially clover and poa aunna. None of those rules have changed, despite the drought.
This is also the best time for buying and planting a myriad of bulbs.
For me, landscape renewals or re-dos are more than just replacing lost shrubs. It’s also the time to plant trees, so their root systems can get established before our first cold spell. In fact, that goes for any type of landscape work – all roots need to get established well before the first freeze.
This is also the perfect time to “change out the color” of your landscape. It’s time to rip out the vincas and put in some pentas or put in marigolds or petunias or allysum or … well, get to a garden center soon to see all the fall and winter annuals and perennials in stock.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t say pansies, my official planting date for those is Oct. 30. So, while we are close, it has to be a bit cooler before that traditional fall color goes in. I apply the same rule to cyclamen, the shade-loving winter color.
This is also the last time to prune a whole bunch of stuff, especially evergreens. In fact, we can prune nearly anything and everything, and not touch it again until April or May. And once low temperatures dip down to less than 60 degrees, the window opens on our major tree-pruning season.
And finally, it’s time to replace any grass lost to drought. Solid sodding now will let the root systems establish, and you’ll be rewarded in early spring with a faster green-up and fill-in. Just be aware that re-sodding now will not result in a beautiful full lawn - you will likely notice seams around the newly laid grass for months.
Right now, you’ll probably find the year’s best prices on solid sod. And solid sod is what you need - there is no such thing as St. Augustine seed, and this is the worst time of the year to put out Bermuda seed.
If you can’t afford solid sod, and you are in desperate need for some kind of grass for erosion control over the next four months, rye grass seed is a bona fide option. But remember, you’ve got to remove all the dead grass first, so the rye seed can make contact with the soil. Just sowing rye over the dead stuff will result in hit-and-miss germination and a sort of “comb over” effect. You may think it looks good, but everyone else will snickering at it. If you’re going to do it, do it right!