Although it is not officially fall until the latter part of September, the early part of the month still feels like fall has come. Perhaps because the Labor Day holiday causes us to mentally shift our minds into that mode at the beginning of the month. At any rate, change is coming, as the barn swallows that nest under the overhang in the back of the shop have made a mass exodus, and the stillness they leave behind is immense. They certainly had a good year, as mosquitoes were in great abundance for much of the season!
A reminder is warranted here, that it is not too late to plant perennials, although some varieties are declining in showiness. The plants are growing in pots, so planting them now will enable the roots to get established, despite how the top of the plant looks. Just do not forget to water them occasionally, so that they can become established. Some perennials, like Autumn Joy sedum and asters, are just coming into prime showiness now, so be sure to consider them if you are looking for plants that add interest into the fall.
We had an abundance of rain this summer (hence the bumper crop of mosquitoes), but do not let that lull you into a sense of horticultural well being. The last couple weeks have been relatively dry here in southeastern Wisconsin, and the winds have aided that state. As a result, newly established plants need supplementary watering. I’ve seen several “year ago” transplanted honey locusts that had dropped their leaves already, because of lack of moisture. The owners thought the trees were established enough to go it alone, but the soil was so dry they went into shock. Those of you that may have put in sod this summer need to be mindful of the moisture situation as well. Sod needs a thorough soaking (through rain or watering) on a regular basis, so that it will knit to the surface it was placed on. If the water is not making it through the sod and into the ground beneath, the grass roots will not grow into the new substrate, and the sod will not “knit” to it. As a result, the grass will dry out very quickly if the moisture supply wanes. I observed this very problem at a customer’s home where sod was installed almost two months ago. Patches of the yard were brown, and when I checked the grass, it lifted as if it had just been put down (the soil was bone dry underneath). Those areas had never received enough moisture to soak through the sod and into the ground. Well watered sod should begin to knit within two weeks, so this problem was not of recent creation.
Another tip, go visit your local nursery now and pick out that large shade tree or evergreen tree that you have visualized in your yard. Fall digging of field grown trees and shrubs is upon us, so get your choices picked out now so they can be dug when the time is right. Piala’s has a fine selection of field grown or heeled in evergreen and deciduous trees, just waiting for you to “adopt”. See you soon.
Dr. Tom Honeyager