Cool weather checklist for lawn and garden chores

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With the temperatures getting cooler, there are a few chores we need to do in the yard at this time.

If you have not finished planting your winter annual flowers, do so now, as the plants will develop over the next couple of months and produce a wonderful coloring later in the winter and early spring months.

It is time to plant pansies, violas, stock, snapdragons, poppies, wildflowers and to divide daylilies and iris. You can also plant spring flowering bulbs at this time, but if you are thinking of planting tulips, make sure you cool the bulbs in the crisper of the refrigerator for 10 to 12 weeks before planting.

When the planting is finished, add a new layer of mulch to the shrub and flower beds to make them look fresh, redefine the bed lines and grass line. You should also remove any weeds or grass in the beds. The mulch will help prevent new weeds from germinating.

As leaves fall, remove them from the lawn so they do not trap moisture and develop diseases that can damage the lawn if temperatures get back to the 70s and 80s.

It is a good time to spray shrubs for insect problems, such as scale that hides on the underside of leaves and discolors the leaves. Usually, the main scale problem is tea scale found on camellias, sasanquas or hollies; but there are other scales that can develop on plants.

If you are planning to add some new shrubs and trees to the yard, now is the best time to plant, since the roots will grow and develop as long as the soil temperatures stay above 45 degrees.

There will be less demand for water due to cooler temperatures. It's best to water only manually as needed. If we are receiving rain every week or two, just leave the sprinkler system off. The plants are not trying to flower or grow new growth, but the roots will be growing and establishing a nice root system to handle next year's warm weather.

Last but not least, we need to treat for weeds to reduce winter weeds from germinating and to clean up any summer weeds still present. It is time to apply lime, if you have not done so in the past two years, to raise the pH of the soil for St. Augustine, shrubs and flowerbeds.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.

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