Even though the weather has been hot and dry, fall is an excellent time to begin to repair our lawn and landscape issues around the home. Our native cool season grasses require the reduced temperatures to germinate and establish themselves prior to the onset of winter, even if our time to frost is growing near.

Soil fertility is important in the fall, but considerations for the growth of the grass need to be considered. We do not want to give our turf a push of flush growth as we might want in the spring, which means we need to limit the nitrogen we apply. Nitrogen causes rapid and rank growth, meaning that the grasses are tender and full of water, and this makes the new growth especially susceptible to freeze and frost kill.

Instead, a healthy dose of phosphorus and potassium, as might be found in a 0:25:25 mix, will help establish root zone growth and strengthen the sod as spring approaches. The amount needed on each lawn needs to be established by an accurate soil test.

Fall is also a good time to plant trees and shrubs, but, once again, some thought needs to be given to placement and expected growth.

Planting an oak tree under a powerline or next to the house might be attractive now, but as the tree grows, it will surely create all kinds of hazards. Plant all landscaping plants with a vision of their mature growth. Some shrubs that are acid loving can be poisoned if planted too near a foundation or concrete walk. The leaching of calcium from the concrete can actually raise the pH to a level that kills the plants, which are usually expensive to replace.

Just as we plan our gardens in the spring, the basic needs of each plant should be considered whether we are planting a new landscape or adding to an existing one. Every tree, shrub, grass or ornamental requires air flow, water and sunlight in some amount to prosper. Planting too close together, shading a new or smaller plant or not allowing for root growth will cause problems that may not be easily fixed.

Speaking of root growth, be sure that you know where the utilities that serve your home and your neighborhood are located before planting anything. Roots of older trees and shrubs may eventually result in costly repairs that could have been avoided altogether with a little advanced thought before planting.

Upcoming Events

Nov. 1 -- Deadline to Consign Calves to December VQA Sale.

Nov. 6 -- VQA Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.

Nov. 11 -- VQA Steer Take Up, Tri-State.                              

Nov. 13 -- VQA Heifer Take Up, Tri State.

Nov. 18 -- Smyth County Farm Management/Private Pesticide Recertification Meeting, 6 p.m., Farm Bureau Building in Marion.

Nov. 20 -- Pesticide Recertification, 8:30 a.m., Smyth County Extension Office.

Dec. 4 -- VQA Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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