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Autumn raises lawn, garden questions
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Cooler nighttime temperatures normally cause our internal-clock alarms to sound, and we get this sense of urgency to complete some of our overdue projects.
Like many homeowners, I have a special category for projects called IWDIL, also known as, “I will do it later.”
The problem is that I keep pushing back the projects, especially if someone calls about golf or fishing. Based on some of the calls I get, I comfortably can say that I am not alone.
Here are some of the questions that are coming in and the correct
responses:

Q: Should I fertilize or dethatch my lawn now?
A: The answer is no and no! Most Liberty County lawns are warm-season grasses like centipede, Bermuda, St. Augustine or carpet grass mixtures. Fertilizing promotes growth, but these lawns are trying to slow growth in preparation for winter.
Pull a soil sample to help you prepare for the next growing season and take it to your local extension office.
Adding fertilizer to a lawn with an acidic pH only works as a Band Aid when adding lime may be required.
A soil test will help answer that question as well as determine the right type and amount of fertilizer you should use.
Dethatching or aeration should not be done now because the lawn cannot recover before cool weather. Doing these things now may cause the lawn to die during the winter.

Q: Can I prune now?
A: It is best to delay most pruning until late January or February.
Heavy pruning now may cause the plant to be more sensitive to the cold.
You can trim out-of-control limbs or branches, but use the following philosophy: Prune only what you absolutely have to, and then only lightly.
Spring flowering plants have set their flower buds, so pruning now generally will reduce the number of blooms in the spring. Wait until after they bloom to prune them.

Q: How can I help my lawn now?
A: Keep it watered and examine it for insects. Mole crickets are tan-colored, burrowing insects up to 1 ½ inches long. They burrow under lawns with their spade-like feet and feed on the roots. Affected grass will die and pulls up easily as though it has no roots.
Other insects can cause damage as well. White grubs and chinch bugs should be controlled if populations are high.
Start making plans to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent germination of winter annual weeds. Don’t do it yet, but temperatures should be good around the third week in October.

Q: What are the spots on the leaves of my tree? Will it die?
A: Let me answer the last question first. Many insects and diseases attack trees. If the tree is healthy, most pests will not kill it unless they make all the leaves drop off.
Also, we usually cannot spray the tree because of its size. The best thing is to ignore the problem.

I know some of you are thanking me for the excuse of not doing the work outside. Now if we can just find an excuse not to paint!
For more information on your lawn or garden problems, visit the Liberty County extension office at 100-A Liberty St. in Hinesville or call 912-876-2133.You also can email Bell at robbell@uga.edu.

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