Stay wicked busy this month in your fall garden. From harvesting to planting to tidying up, there’s plenty to do to get it in gear for spring. October can be quite magical. The cooler temperatures and crisp air beckon, encouraging us to slow down and linger longer outdoors, perhaps with a pumpkin spice latte in hand. Even though our gardens are slowing down, too, there’s still plenty to do for them — from harvesting to planting to tidying up.
Grass: If your landscape requires grass, plant sod or seeds now and get it established before Oct. 31.
Palms and succulents: To ensure survival and long-term health, plant all palms and succulents (e.g. yucca, agave, hesperaloe, etc.) before the end of the month. Don’t get tricked into planting later.
Aeration: Plant roots require oxygen to grow and sustain themselves, and grass roots are no different. Core aerate at least every other year, preferably once a year.
Compost: Apply high quality, double screened compost onto your lawns and perennial beds. Compost provides energy and nutrients for organisms and plants. Some lawn experts suggest top dressing (compost and sand mix) but this isn’t necessary. Compost alone will suffice.
Fertilization: Fertilizer helps the lawn and woody plants grow with enthusiasm in the spring. But remember: a little bit goes a long way. Apply organic fertilizers no later than mid-October and manufactured fertilizers no later than Oct. 31. For plants, a small amount of compost and fertilizer is ideal.
Wildflowers: Sow all Texas wildflower seeds by Oct. 31. Seeds must have contact with soil to germinate properly. Clean out debris to ensure proper seed-to-soil contact.
Irrigation system: By the end of October, all irrigation controllers should be turned off. In fact, the next four months is when you can give your in-ground sprinkler system a break and just run it manually once per month.
Tips from Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.