Control Woody Weeds
Now is the time to attack privet, poison ivy, wisteria and other woody weeds around your property. This is the time of year when sap is flowing to the roots, so it’s a perfect time to spray the tops with Round-Up and get better results killing the roots than in the spring when the sap is moving upward. Do it soon though, before the leaves start preparing to fall.
Don’t Forget the Lawn
Don’t let the last few Dog Days of summer set your lawn up for trouble during winter. Bare spots from drought and poor mowing (too low) will open the lawn up to winter weeds. Keep the sprinkler on and keep the mower set high to prevent winter problems. Fescue lawns will need a little fertilizer next month, too. Fall is the start of their growing season. Their clock is opposite of warm-season lawns like zoysia, centipede, Bermuda and St. Augustine, which start in spring.
Get Ready for Camellia Season
Get your camellias ready for winter by raking away the old mulch and replacing it with new. This will help prevent the fungus and leaf spot diseases next year and help protect the plant through winter.
Just in Case
How many times have you found a coleus you really liked but were unable to buy it again the next spring? You can avoid this by rooting some cuttings in water and keeping them on your windowsill through winter. Coleus is quick to root in water. Keep cuttings it in a bright window and then transplant to a container with potting soil the next spring. That way you’ll have some insurance in case you can’t find the plant again next spring.
Columns of Glass
I saw this clever use of old glass bowls and vases while on a garden tour. The owner of the garden had a "grove" of these glass columns among the items in the bed. It added a whimsical touch to the garden and color, too. The only drawback I see is being careful not to create a column collecting water for mosquito breeding and the items you use don’t crack or chip in freezing weather.
What You Can Do with Conifers
Conifers used to be thought of as strictly Northern plants, but the garden industry is showing us otherwise. A combination of new conifers along with testing and research is turning up a list that do well in the South. I’m so glad. Years ago I saw a "conifer tapestry" at a home on Monte Sano. It had been ordered from a nursery in the Northeast, but was doing great up there on the mountain. The variety of colors and shapes was so beautiful. It’s one of those images a gardener never forgets. While touring a conifer nursery in the Pacific Northwest, which is truly conifer country, I snapped this picture as inspiration for what Southern gardeners can try with the list of blue, gray, dark green and golden needles now at our disposal. They make a beautiful evergreen wall, windbreak and background. It’s very important these plants have perfect drainage. They just don’t like wet soil, especially heavy clay. Look for conifers at your favorite garden center this fall, the ideal time for planting. Some of the best ones include threadleaf falsecypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera), deodar cedar (Cedrus deodora), cryptomeria (Cryptomeria japonica), Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica), Blue china fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Also consider pines and unusual items like golden bald cypress (Taxodium distichium Ogon). You may find dwarf forms and various colors of these plants.
Keep the Winter Garden Under Cover
You can keep salad greens and cooking greens like turnips and mustard going long into winter with a row cover. Row covers are frost blankets raising the temperature underneath and provide frost protection of two to eight degrees, depending on their thickness. You can lay them directly over your plants, and with the sides and ends held down with bricks to keep them in place. Or you can create a hoop with flexible lengths of PVC pipe anchored in the ground on stakes and covered with the blanket. Either way, it’s a great way to enjoy greens and salads all winter long.
Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.