With cooler temps, start on autumn garden chores

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With the temperatures getting slightly cooler in the day and evening, our thoughts turn to autumn garden chores. These include such tasks as as putting out a new layer of mulch on our shrub and flower beds to dress them up and also to redefine their lines.

As you put out the mulch, remove any weeds like grasses, trees or vines that might be present.

Now is a good time to plant new shrubs into the yard, as the plant will not be fighting heat and the need for large quantities of water.

The plants will still need to be watered, but they are not trying to grow top growth as well as root growth.

They will only be developing new root growth all winter long as the soil temperatures usually stay above 40 degrees. Thus, they will be ready with a well-established root system next year to develop new growth and flowers.

It is time to plant our fall and winter flowers like snap dragons, calendulas, poppies, flowering cabbage and kale and any perennials you might want to add.

Wait for early November to plant pansies and violas because they like cooler temperatures. This way, they will not stretch due to heat and collapse in December.

If you have camellias, sasanquas or hollies you might have tea scale, which is a white and red mass on the bottom of the leaves, with the top of the leaves looking yellow. If you do have this, treat the problem by spraying or applying a systemic insecticide.

Now is a good time to do a soil test of your yard to check the pH of the soil to determine if you need to add lime.

If you do need to add lime, do so at this time as it takes several months to start correcting the soil's pH.

As long as the temperatures are below 82 degrees, you should be able to do weed control in the lawn to remove any leftover summer weeds and any winter weeds that have germinated.

If you are seeing mole cricket activity, treat for this pest now, as they can damage the roots of your grass and cause stress that may weaken the grass to disease and cold temperatures.

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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