September 2011 tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful garden

Clean and Green

Daytime temperatures may still hit the high 80s this month, but cooler evenings are a welcome respite during “Indian summer”. Weed prevention, reseeding fescue lawns and tending to long-lasting perennials and summer annuals will keep you busy this month!


Garden Maintenance

• Weeding is still at the top of the priority list; treat your lawn for growing weeds now, according to label directions, and plan to apply a pre-emergent product late in the month so that winter weeds won’t get a chance to germinate. In your flower and ornamental beds, pull weeds before they go to seed.

• Prevent winter lawn weeds (such as chickweed and henbit) by applying a pre-emergent weed preventer early this month—safe for all lawn types, but note that if you are reseeding a fescue lawn now, don’t apply the weed killer.

• Fescue seed can be planted from mid-September through mid-October. Before planting fescue, use a non-selective herbicide, such as Round-Up or Finale, to kill weeds in established fescue lawns. You will be able to plant the seed within 7-10 days.

• Fertilize Bermuda lawns with a winterizer fertilizer in late September.  All other warm-season grasses should not be fertilized until next May.

• Cut back annuals and fall-blooming perennials now for continued blooms. Deadhead late-summer-blooming perennials such as Echinacea and Rudbeckia.

• Collect flower seeds from your garden to save for spring planting.

• You can divide hostas, daylilies and irises this month.

•  Did you move houseplants outdoors so that they could enjoy the summer weather? They’re safe outside until evening temperatures reach the mid-50s. Before moving inside, inspect them for insects and treat with appropriate insecticides—wait two weeks after spraying to bring indoors.

•  Be sure to remove fallen leaves from your newly seeded fescue lawn. Lightly rake them off or use a leaf-blower to gently push them aside.


What to Plant

•  It’s time to plant chrysanthemums. For best results, plant mums in a sunny location in well-drained soil, and keep them uniformly moist while they are being established. Fertilize four weeks after planting.

• Plant, move and revitalize perennial flowers in late September through November. Mulch with 2 to 3 inches of pine straw, pine bark or other mulch, and water them well after planting.

• Plant peonies, poppies and bearded iris now for springtime flowers.

•  By late September, it’s cool enough to plant container-grown trees and shrubs in your landscape. Make sure to dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the container that the plant is in. Fill the hole with soil and make sure that there are no air pockets. Water deeply and mulch 2 to3 inches for best results.


Mary Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener Coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows.

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