September is a great time of year in your landscape. The ornamental grasses that you’ve planted should be flowering right now and at their peak. With the days shortening, be careful not to water too late in the day to discourage diseases – and – with the drought in effect – don’t forget the watering schedules your water district has enforced: http://www.sdcwa.org/find-your-water-district/. Fertilize your entire garden. At the minimum, an easy way to remember when to fertilize is to do it on the first day of the three growing seasons; the first day of spring, the first day of summer and the first day of fall. Mark your calendar for September 21st. A good all-purpose fertilizer can be used on most of your plants including fruit trees. Fertilize Azaleas, Camellias and Gardenias with a high acid fertilizer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
Color: Now is the time to plant Delphinium, Dianthus and Digitalis. Mums should be available also along with Iceland Poppies, Primula, Snapdragons and Stock. Marigolds and Petunias may be looking a little tired. Clip old blooms to stretch their time in the garden. Begin planting spring bulbs this month. Plant in masses in the ground or in pots to create a spectacular spring show. The iris in your garden can be cut back and divided now in preparation for next spring.
Fruits & Vegetables: In mild winter climates, plant your first crop of lettuce. Plant every few weeks to have a continual crop. Plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach also. Don’t plant during a heat wave.
Roses & Flowers: Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period. Fertilize roses now to encourage blooms next month.
Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you maintain the watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system. Rinse off the foliage in your landscape to remove dust from plants which can be a habitat for mites and other insects.
If it freezes where you live, put a thick layer of mulch down to help protect the roots during the upcoming cooler temperatures.
In your vegetable or flower garden, add a layer of compost (2-3 inches for good soil, 4-6 inches for clay or sandy soil). Mixing this in now will put needed nutrients back into the soil and you’ll reap the benefits in the crops you plant now and in the spring.
With longer days and increased heat, August is the time of year where your garden is stressed the most. Remember three important watering tips: 1) water in the morning, 2) water the roots not the leaves, 3) it’s better to water deep occasionally than water shallow often. Now is a good time to take a serious look at your garden to determine any changes that you may want to make during cooler months.
Color: Assess your annual and perennial color. If an annual is looking peaked, it’s best just to dig it up and discard it. A perennial that’s not looking its best can be cut back a couple of inches and it should rejuvenate quickly. Continue to deadhead spent flowers for a long lasting bloom season.
Fruits & Vegetables: Trim suckers off fruit trees and vines. Supplemental water shallow root trees such as Citrus & Avocado. Watch for evidence of thrips.
Lawn: Continue to fertilize your lawn monthly through October. Raising the blade on your lawnmower and allowing the blades to grow to 2-2 ½” will help keep the ground moisture in your lawn. Also, mowing weekly will help keep weeds at bay.
Roses & Flowers: Deadhead roses and feed after the bloom cycle. Keep deadheading all flowers to prolong the bloom period. Trim back hanging baskets that may be starting to look unruly. Pinch back Impatiens that may be starting to stretch.
Prepare for the fire season by removing dead branches and leaves from trees and shrubs. Cut tall grasses and weeds to stubble. Remove dead leaves which are considered fuel from gutters and around the base of structures. If you don’t have an evacuation plan established, get one and make sure all the members of your family are aware of it.
Like every month, do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Make sure that you establish a watering schedule for plants in pots that are not part of the irrigation system. Move plants in pots that seem to be in a constant state of wilt into a shadier spot for the next couple of months.
Heat can bring on attacks from garden pests in all forms. Watch for rust, spider mites, caterpillars, thrips, scale and grubs along with a multitude of other pests. Be sure to treat effectively always following the manufacturer’s instructions to halt the problem before it gets out of control.
In January, your landscape is at its most dormant stage and there’s very little to do. Aside from pruning and transplanting there’s not a lot going on. With high moisture levels in the ground, be careful not to disturb the soil too much. Overworking can result in compaction that may harm the soil structure. Do go to your local nursery or garden center. Azaleas, Camellias are blooming along with New Zealand Tea Trees (Leptospermum scoparium) and other plants. Putting these in your garden will ensure that you have flowers in your garden when most flowering plants are in their dormant stage.
Color: Fill in bare spots with cool weather annuals. Pansies, Snapdragons, Iceland poppies and Kale are great additions to the garden along with Cyclamen, Primula and Begonias. Keep leaf trash cleaned from the base of the plants. Plant summer blooming bulbs; canna, dahlia, lilies, tuberose and tuberous begonias.
Fruits & Vegetables: Plant bare-root fruit trees, grapes, berries and strawberries now. Soak roots in water overnight before planting. Continue to spray dormant fruit trees for pests, include trunk and soil around the base of the tree. Prune established fruit trees to maintain a uniform shape. Many cool weather vegetables are available. Sow beet, carrot and radish seeds.
Lawn: Mow cool weather lawns weekly. Appling a pre-emergent weed killer now will save you time and money later in the year. Give your lawnmower a tune up. Change the oil and have the blade to your lawnmower sharpened or do it yourself.
Roses & Flowers: Clean leaf litter from around the base of plants to discourage snails & slugs. Bait as necessary. Prune roses before new growth begins. Water roses thoroughly before pruning. Other flowering shrubs should be pruned after the first bloom cycle.
Irrigation: Do a test run on your irrigation system to ensure that all lines are clear and emitters are working efficiently. Watch your system carefully. If it rains, turn the system off and save the water.
Also: Natives can also be pruned lightly now in order to maintain a uniform shape. If rainfall isn’t heavy, water deeply. The moisture they store now will help them through the hot summer months.
Bulbs with higher cold requirements need to be planted in cold soil. If the weather is cool, between Christmas and New Years, plant then. Otherwise wait until the soil temperature drops being sure to plant before January 10th.
Protect tender plants from frost by covering them with a non-plastic material when frost threatens. Keeping plantings well hydrated will help frost survival also. A turgid plant will recover from frost better than a dry plant. Should a frost damage your garden, don’t be tempted to prune off the damaged parts. They’ll help protect the plant from further damage should another frost occur. Trim these parts off later in the year when all risk of frost has past.
Plant and transplant Azaleas and Camellias. Be sure to use a high acid planting mix to promote growth.
Cool temperature weather is the perfect time to prune evergreens
By Donnie Dabbs, General Mgr.
Fertilizing typical and drought-tolerant trees in the landscape requires a knack for applying in the right season, proper administration and for using the best product for the tree. Fertilizer is often misunderstood and misused. Fertilizer is not really direct food for trees, but instead, a boost to your trees providing the ingredients needed for photosynthesis and growth. Fertilizer should not only be used when minerals are lacking or absent in the soil but also to maintain a good chemical balance within the soil all year long. Your top ten, typical choice of standard trees for most landscapes range from King and Queen palms to Agonis, Magnolia and Lagerstromia varieties. Drought-tolerant trees can be fertilized much in the same way. These trees should be fertilized on a regular schedule, depending on the geography and status of the tree. Trees in areas that receive a lot of rain usually have a lot of natural nutrients in the soil and only require about one to two times a year of fertilizer application. However, in more arid areas, like the Southwest, you should fertilize up to three times a year to produce more nutrients in the soil and to keep the plant healthy in each season. The best times for fertilizing is in early spring, mid-year and in the fall. The early spring is a good time because tree roots are coming out of the dormant period and require a boost to be healthy as they are starting to grow. Mid-year is also important because trees are experiencing more heat, absorbing water faster because of the heat and therefore going through nutrients quicker. To put in fertilizer during this time gives the tree a boost and replenishes those nutrients lost. During the Fall, tree roots have cooled a bit but there isn’t as much rainfall as during winter months. Avoid fertilizing trees and shrubs stressed by drought during the summer months. If water is unavailable, do not fertilize at all because plants will be unable to absorb the nutrients.
“Typical mistakes most commonly made during fertilizing is over fertilizing,” said Don Dabbs of Briggs Tree Company (a wholesale, grower-direct nursery in Southern California), “Using the wrong chemical balance for the tree is also a mistake commonly made.”
Fertilizers are divided between the chemicals nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Nitrogen is for greening the tree, adding more foliage and nurturing the leaves. Potassium is applied to prevent diseases and helps with producing more, healthier flowering. Phosphorus boosts the root system and also helps with flowering. A Triple 15 fertilizer has 15 parts nitrogen, 15 parts potassium and 15 parts phosphorus. This combination of chemicals are perfect for trees, as you don’t want to use too much of one of these chemicals. For instance, if you use too much nitrogen, the tree will burn. The other mistake is to over fertilize. Use the amount that is specified on the bag and don’t apply more or less than this specification. Avoid adding too much fertilizer which can harm the tree and the environment. Excessive fertilizer produces rank, weak growth that breaks easily and is susceptible to injury from cold, drought and pests. Also, fertilizer not absorbed by the plant roots may contaminate groundwater and surface water. Again- too much chemical is not good for any one tree. There are different forms of fertilizer that contain a balance of the correct chemicals. One form is fertilizer in granular form. When planting a new tree, put this fertilizer in the ground just under the root ball. For trees already planted or established, spread fertilizer on top of the plant and water generously so the fertilizer seeps into the soil. Since most of a tree’s roots can be found in the top foot of soil, broadcast the fertilizer evenly with a rotary or drop-type spreader over the root zone area to fertilize the tree. For new trees, try using new fertilizer tabs that slowly release fertilizer and penetrate into the tree over a period of time. These tabs should be used in the ground planted near the root ball and never used on top of the soil as this will waste fertilizer. Systemic liquid, spray-on fertilizers seeps into the tree leaves, limbs and bark and is absorbed into the root system. Just remember- the best practice is to use a balanced amount of chemicals.
When fertilizing trees, keep these two points in mind: (1) Fertilizer is beneficial when it is needed; but (2) Use it in the right amount, at the right time and in the right place.
For over thirty five years, Briggs Tree Company has operated as a wholesale nursery, having expanded to over 200 acres in production. Founded by Donald A. Briggs, Jr. in the early 1970’s, Briggs is still family owned and operated supplying:
- 4-inch annual and perennial color
- water-efficient plants
- ..and a premier line of trees in various sizes
Briggs prides themselves in employing knowledgeable and experienced staff who will answer any questions regarding plant material. Briggs Tree Company, Inc. Corporate Headquarters is located at 1111 Poinsettia Avenue, Vista, CA 92081 Please call 760-727-2727, or visit us online at www.briggstree.com for more information.
By Donnie Dabbs, General Mgr.
Water is always a crucial issue. We never have enough. As we approach the cooler months, it’s important to take a few steps to help manage the water that your landscape receives.
Many time clocks are still set to the times and cycles that were dictated when the system was installed. Once your landscape is established, usually within a few months, the times can be cut back. They should be adjusted throughout the year as the seasons change. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your time clock. Play around with it so you can learn to adjust it quickly if needed. If you don’t have the instructions, many manufacturers have them available on line or contact your local garden center.
1) Check that all of your emitters are operating efficiently and are distributing water in the area designed.
2) Adjust the number of days that the system activates. Depending on your specific location, you may be able to reduce your watering schedule by one or two days.
3) Adjust the time the system is on. Since days are shorter and cooler, your landscape doesn’t need the same amount of water to maintain it’s healthy condition. Trying cutting the time per cycle by 1/3 to see how your garden reacts.
Remember that if a warm spell occurs, you may need to supplemental water. Additionally if it rains, make sure that you turn your sprinklers off. Mulching hillsides and planting beds will help retain moisture in your landscape along with helping to control weeds and curtail erosion.