|Rudbeckia triloba, Tri River Gardens, Photo by SL Carter|
To some people, fall might be a four letter but to me it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Those tomato plants are finally producing, mornings are cool and crisp, Grand Junction is rarely hitting 90 degrees and lots of yellow and purple late blooming plants are blooming. This is also a time when a lot is going on under the ground. Cool season turf has perked up, trees are starting to grow more roots and all perennial plants (trees included) are being like chipmunks and storing up food to make it through the winter. Here is a wonderful handout called healthy roots, healthy trees: http://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/02926.pdf
So what can you do to help your plants make it through winter? Well, for one, since the nights are getting longer and the days cooler, hopefully you have adjusted how much you are watering. We need to help slow down plants so they can harden off for winter. If you keep giving frequent water, they will continue to grow. So slowly start reducing the times you water but you may need to increase the length of time you are watering. The best way to check is to use a screwdriver from the drip edge out on trees to see if it easily slides into the soil to a depth of 6-8”. If it only gets a couple of inches down, you definitely need to water deeper. If it comes out all muddy, you have over-watered. Ideally, you should be checking your lawn and garden this way thru and season and adjusting the irrigation; once a month is a good rule to follow.
|Lawn at Mesa County Fairgrounds, Photo by SL Carter|
As the weather cools, cool season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and perennial ryegrass) will begin to grow faster. Mowing will be needed more often to ensure that the grass is not stressed. No more than one-third of the grass blade should be removed at each mowing. Continue to maintain the grass at the same cutting height as during the summer. Even though lawns grow faster in the fall they will need less water than during the summer. Adjust your lawn watering accordingly. Here is a handout on watering established lawns:
This is a good time to install sod. Preparing the soil properly is critical to success. Contact your local extension office for suggestions. Do not apply weed killers to newly seeded lawns; wait until the new grass has been mowed at least twice before spraying for weeds. Sodded lawns can be treated for weeds as soon as the weeds are noticed. And speaking of herbicides, one of our agents did some work the last two falls spraying bindweed with glyphosate, and does it work well. Targeting certain perennial weeds in fall with the appropriate chemical allows the chemical to be pulled into the roots as the weed is trying to store energy. Always read the label and follow the instructions. It is best to make sure what you are using is appropriate for what you are controlling. If you only have to do it once, it will save you money too.
At lower/warmer elevations, now is a good time to plant some cool season greens to get a last batch before winter gets here. I will say, I hate when winter gets here and there is no more fresh veggies. So for now I’ll enjoy the cool morning that still brings abundance. Enjoy!
By Susan L Carter, Horticulture Agent, CSU Extension, Tri River Area