After the cool front this week, we have entered the best time to get super busy with lawns and landscapes in Southeast Texas. It’s the best time for so many reasons and on many different levels. First, October and November have long been recognized as the two best months for landscaping work. October is also considered the optimum month to start getting in “cole crops” for fall and winter vegetable gardens. None of those timings have changed, despite hurricanes, droughts and freezes.
To me, landscape renewal is more than just replacing a lost shrub. This is also the best period for planting trees, giving them time to get their root systems established before our first cold spell. That’s important for any type of landscape work — allowing the roots to get established well before the first freeze — but trees top the list for this.
This is also the time to change out landscape color. Get to a garden center soon and see for yourself the variety of fall and winter annuals and perennials in stock. It’s time to rip out the vincas and put in the pentas or the marigolds or the petunias or the alyssum or the … well, you get my point. If you’re wondering why I didn’t say pansies, my official planting date for those is October 30 or later. So, while we are close, I still want it to be a bit cooler before pansies go in. I apply the same rule to cyclamen, the shade-loving winter color.
And don’t forget that October is the best time to jump back full-force into my fertilization schedule, or any fertilization schedule for that matter. There is always a need to put out a winterizer or fall feeding. It’s also time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to neutralize the seeds of weeds such as clover and poa aunna. And finally, now is the time to be on the lookout for brownpatch so you can hit it right away with a fungicide.
This is also the time to replace any grass lost due to drought. Solid sodding follows the principles above — get the root systems established now so you’ll be rewarded in early spring with a much faster green-up and fill-in. Keep in mind, though, that re-sodding now will not initially give you the most beautiful, full lawn — you will likely notice the seams of the newly laid grass for months. Still, this the ideal time to get it down because prices on solid sod are at their best. And remember, it has to be solid sod - there is no such thing as St. Augustine seed, and this is the worst time of year to put out Bermuda seed.
If you can’t afford solid sod but are in desperate need of some kind of grass, maybe for erosion control over the next four months, rye grass is a bona fide option this year. Remember, though, you’ve got to remove all the dead grass so the rye seed will make contact with the soil. Just sowing over dead grass will never work. If you’re going to do it, do it right! If you don’t get good germination, and growth is hit-and-miss, you’ll wind up with something like a balding man’s comb-over. You may think it looks good, but everyone else will be sort of snickering. Follow my Kill-Till-Fill and Sod method for good results.