Seasonal Maintenance Guides For Austin and Travis County

Fall officially begins Friday, September 22.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
- Albert Camus

Now Is The Time To Plant
We, here in the south, are different from the rest of the country because we can plant in the fall. The cool weather and their natural dormancy period lessen transplanting shock so the plants will have time to become well established before next season's hot weather returns.

Why Plant?
Trees and plants absorb ozone damaging pollutants, capture carbon dioxide from the air converting it into precious oxygen and they also keep temperatures down. Plants act as noise and privacy buffers. They will also increase the value of your property both aesthetically and fiscally.

Use the Right Plants
By selecting native plants and low water varieties, you'll use less water and fertilizer minimizing your maintenance and they will be more insect and disease resistant.

P L A N T

Shrubs, flowers, woody vines, groundcover, herbs and vegetables. Plant Cyclamen in shade, Snapdragons and Calendula in full sun later this month and early October.

TREES
Plant beginning in mid-September when our temperatures start coming down.

Wait until December or after the first freeze to plant bare rooted trees like Pecan and Fruit.

Planting trees now and through their dormancy period (typically November through February) will reduce shock enabling their root systems to take hold before the return of hot weather. Wait to prune Live and Red Oaks until December because the Oak Wilt spreading beetle is not active in very hot or cold temperatures.

WILDFLOWERS
Can be sown in late September or early October by first raking the soil to loosen it, then sow, and finally cover lightly with soil to discourage birds. Wildflowers will thrive in sunny spots with good drainage with watering every few days for a couple of weeks to get them started right.

ROSES
Grow Roses in full sun with raised beds of 4 to 6 inches of quality soil, lots of mulch, good drainage and ample air circulation.

Best pruning tip: Cut off the faded flower just above the intersection of the top 5 leaf grouping on the stem. Stop pruning Lady Banks Rose now to get February flowers. Try new disease tolerant varieties like the "Knock Out."

PERENNIALS
You can divide your summer perennials like Amaryllis, Cannas, Daylily, Iris, Liriope and hardy ferns. When separating and replanting, don't let them dry out. After you dig them up, use a spade or sharp tool to separate them into sections and then replant in good soil with water and fertilizer.

See Flower Ideas

See Vegetable Ideas

M O W
Once a week or as needed. Keep your mowers blades sharp and leave clippings on your lawn for an extra source of nitrogen. Rake leaves so the turf underneath receives sun light. Circular brown patches in St. Augustine are probably signs of brown patch when the leaf blades can be easily pulled out because they have rotted. According to the experts, it won't kill the turf, but the green color will not come back until warm weather returns. You can use preventative sprays such as fungicides and not walking over these areas to reduce the chance of further damage.

M U L C H
All bare soil because it's vital for moisture retention. We recommend using Cypress or Hardwood shredded mulch in beds with a depth of least 2 inches. Before cold weather arrives, check mulch levels around your woody plants to make sure you have a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Mulch should be kept back several inches from the trunk or stem to keep it as dry as possible to avoid fungal problems. Be sure to mulch after any planting you do to deter winter weeds and curb temperatures.

P R U N E
All dead and diseased plants. General rule is to lightly shape, never cut more than 1/3rd off at a time and never dehorn. Wait to prune Live and Red Oaks until December because the Oak Wilt spreading beetle is not active in very hot or cold temperatures.

S P R A Y
For insect and disease problems with natural insecticides and fungicides which are best for the environment.

W A T E R
At least 2 times a week in the early morning or according to the water restrictions in your area. Even as the weather cools, lawns need deep soaks rather than daily light sprinkling to set a deep root system which will protect against cold damage. Check with local water restrictions for watering days and time.

H A N D W A T E R
Your lawn's dry spots, newly planted areas and annuals because it's still warm enough during the day to dry out. Additional watering will be required for trees planted less than 2 years ago.

F E R T I L I Z E
At the end of this month or the first of October all planting beds (except Azaleas) and lawns for the last time this year. Use organic plant food and compost. Roses can be fed now to support their upcoming winter dormancy. Fertilizing everything at once saves time and money and will provide nutrients for winter health and spring growth. Use a balanced urea coated (time released) fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio that contains iron. We also recommend an iron additive (Ironite) as a supplement for stronger root systems and to lower the PH in the soil. Fertilizing after this time will encourage growth that could be damaged by the cold this winter. Read directions and water thoroughly after fertilizing.

S E E D  O R  H Y D R O M U L C H
Bermuda and Buffalo for the last time this year until mid- September.

Columbus Day is observed on Monday, October 9th

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

There's no better time to make additions to your landscape because the roots will grow all winter in the warm soil making for strong, vigorous plants to withstand next year's hot days.

P L A N T

Trees, shrubs, woody vines, groundcover, flowers and vegetables. Perennial herbs like Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley, Sage, Lemon Balm, Pineapple Sage, and Mexican Mint Marigolds for your kitchen garden can be set out now. Mulch and water but don't fertilize these until next spring. Using a soluble fertilizer on Pansies, Violas, Snapdragons and Dianthus when you plant them in mid-October will give them stamina to produce lots of color.

SEED
Annual winter grass, such as Rye, can be planted now. It will prevent erosion and improve the look of your property through the spring.

WILDFLOWERS
Wildflowers can be sown now by first raking the soil to loosen it and then cover lightly with soil to discourage birds but don't bury the seeds. Planting in sunny spots with good drainage and watering every few days for a couple of weeks will give them a good start.

ROSES
Grow Roses in full sun with raised beds of 4 to 6 inches of quality soil, lots of mulch, good drainage and ample air circulation.

PERENNIALS
You can continue to divide spring and summer perennials plants such as Liriope, Iris, and Daylilies into sections by cutting them up with a spade or sharp tool.

BULBS
Bulbs, Tubers and Rhizomes can go in now such as Amaryllis, Daylilies, Spider Lillies, Liriope, and Ophiopogon. Save Caladiums tubers by allowing them to dry out for a week or so in a well ventilated shady spot. Gently clean off dead leaves and dirt and store not below 55 degrees until next year.

TREES
Planting trees now and through their dormancy period (typically November through February) will reduce shock enabling their root systems to take hold before the return of hot weather. Wait to prune Live and Red Oaks until December because the Oak Wilt spreading beetle is not active in very hot and very cold days.

See Flower Ideas

See Vegetable Ideas

M O W

Once a week or as needed. Keep the blades sharp and leave clippings on your lawn for an extra source of nitrogen. Rake leaves so the turf underneath receives sun light. Circular brown patches in St. Augustine are probably signs of a fungal problem called brown patch which rots the grass blades. Experts tell us it doesn't kill the sod but the green color won't return until next year. Using a fungicidal spray and not walking on the infected areas will prevent further damage.

M U L C H

All bare soil because it's vital for moisture retention, easier weed control and makes your landscape look good. We recommend using Cypress or Hardwood shredded mulch in beds with a depth of least 2 inches. Before cold weather arrives, check mulch levels around your woody plants to make sure you have a depth of 2 to 3 inches and the mulch is kept back several inches from the trunk or stem to keep it as dry as possible. Getting the mulch too close to the plants base allows moisture to build up leading to fungal problems.

P R U N E

All dead and diseased plants. General rule is to lightly shape, never cut more than 1/3rd off at a time and never dehorn. Wait to prune Live and Red Oaks until December because the Oak Wilt spreading beetle is not active in very hot or cold temperatures. This is the final time of year to prune spring flowering plants before they set buds.

S P R A Y

For insect and disease problems with natural insecticides and fungicides which are best for the environment.

W A T E R

Once every 5 days in the early morning or according to the water restrictions in your area and watch for fungal problems. Even as the weather cools, lawns need deep soaks rather than daily light sprinkling so they may set a deep root system which will protect against cold damage. After watering cycle is completed, restart the cycle for one more time which will promote a deeper root system. Check with local water restrictions for watering days and time.

H A N D  W A T E R

Your lawns dry spots, newly planted areas and annuals because it is still warm enough during the day to dry out fragiles.

F E R T I L I Z E

All planting beds can be fertilized with organic plant food for the first part of October except Azaleas. Roses can be fed too. This will be the last time we fertilize this year because the resulting growth could be damaged by the winter cold. For your color beds, we suggest a pint (about equal to one pound) per 100 square feet with a 4-1-2 ratio product.

For lawns, in early to mid-October, we recommend one-half to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. This last fertilization will give the roots nutrients while the turf growth slows down from the cool temperatures. Read directions carefully and water thoroughly after fertilizing. Another method becoming increasingly popular is applying compost to your lawn instead of fertilizing. This approach reduces toxic chemicals released into the environment.

The numbers on fertilizer products have ratings such as 4-1-2 or 3-1-2 which delineate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The nitrogen is used for foliage while the phosphorus is for buds and stems and the potassium, which is better absorbed with nitrogen, is for root health.

H O U S E  P L A N T S

Check for bugs before you bring them in the house for the winter. Insecticidal soap or oil sprays will kill mites, aphids, scale, etc.

F Y I

Life couldn't exist without plants because they provide our food and air. They are the only living things on earth that take light from the sun and turn it into food which is called photosynthesis. They absorb sunlight, water and carbon dioxide (yes, the stuff we exhale) and change it into food which also produces oxygen.

See Flower Ideas

See Vegetable Ideas

Daylight Savings Ends Sunday, November 5th.

"Learn to be an observer in all seasons. Every single day, your garden has something new and wonderful to show you."
- Author Unknown

Now is a great time to make those additions to your landscape because the plants will have time to establish good root systems before the return of hot weather next year.

P L A N T

Trees, shrubs, and annuals. Don't plant groundcover or perennials in 4 inch pots because they are susceptible to freeze damage next month.

SEED
Sow winter grasses to prevent erosion and improve the look of your property through the spring.

WILDFLOWERS
Plant Bluebonnet seeds through the end of this month by first raking to loosen the soil and then cover lightly with soil to discourage birds but don't bury the seeds. Plant seeds in sunny spots with good drainage. If it doesn't rain, water every few days for a couple of weeks to give them a good start.

ANNUALS
For immediate floral display, try planting Pansies, Snapdragons and Dianthus.

BULBS
Spring flowering bulbs can be planted now in sunny, well drained areas. Make sure they are installed deeply because they can dry out or droop if they are too shallow. Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinth need to be planted seven to eight inches down while Crocuses need four to five inches. Plant them with the point facing up and at the right depth. To create a natural look, use the same color and type in groups arranged in oval or triangular shapes.

ROSES
Stop pruning Roses now because new growth could suffer freeze damage. Restart at end of January.

TREES
Planting trees now will strengthen their root systems before hot weather returns next year. After the first freeze is the time to plant bare rooted trees like Pecan and Fruit.

See Flower Ideas

See Vegetable Ideas

M O W

Lawns have slowed down now and the mower can be stored at the end of the month. Drain gas from engine, install a new spark plug, change the oil and sharpen or install new blades. Wash off the mud and grass to prevent rust. Also drain gas from any outdoor power tools too.

M U L C H

All bare soil because it keeps water in and weeds down. We recommend using Cypress or Hardwood shredded mulch in beds with a depth of least 2 inches. Before cold weather arrives, check mulch levels around your woody plants to make sure you have a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Make sure the mulch is kept back several inches from the trunk or stem to keep it as dry as possible because excessive moisture will build up around their bases leading to fungal problems. Areas not planted for winter can be mulched to protect the surface and leave the beds to rest for spring planting.

P R U N E

All dead and diseased plants. Prune only woody stemmed plants and trees; no shrubs, no roses, no perennials or growncover because it will stimulate growth which could freeze. General rule is to lightly shape, never cut more than 1/3rd off at a time and never dehorn. Don't prune spring flowering plants (Indian Hawthorn, Jasmine, Azaleas, etc.) because the buds will be lost. Disinfect tools with bleach-water to avoid disease. Wait to prune Live and Red Oaks until December because the Oak Wilt spreading beetle is not active in very hot or cold temperatures.

S P R A Y

For insect and disease problems with natural insecticides and fungicides which are best for the environment.

W A T E R

nce a week to 10 days if it hasn't rained. Roses must be kept moist. Water before a freeze to protect your plants because the water acts as insulation and then don't water during a freeze. Make sure your sprinkler system is working properly and you're getting the right coverage. Check with local water restrictions for watering days and time.

H A N D  W A T E R

Your lawn's dry spots, newly planted areas and annuals.

F E R T I L I Z E

Don't fertilize lawns, trees and shrubs now because you're encouraging growth in cold weather. You may fertilize Pansies and other winter annuals with organic plant food. Water thoroughly after fertilizing. Stop fertilizing Roses now until the end of January. You can still fertilize cool season grasses such as Fescue this month and next.

I N D O O R   P L A N T S

Bring in before a frost, usually December 1st. Check for bugs. Insecticidal soap or oil sprays will kill mites, aphids, scale, etc.