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Display of colorful fall shrubs

September Garden Tasks

Pot filled with pansies, grasses, ornamental kale and a pumpkin

Ants, Lawn Care & Fall Planting Preparation

September gives us the gift of lowered temperatures to reward us for having gotten through August in one piece! By the end of this month, we will be mostly in the 80s and that is a huge relief to us and our plants. In September, there are some really enjoyable garden tasks that are quick to do and make all the difference for a healthy, happy fall garden. We’ll talk ants, lawn, and fall planting preparation. Oh, and we haven't forgotten to add a fun project to the mix.
Rainfall is a distant memory, and ants love to set up their homes in dry soil. To give ants an eviction notice, check your soil to make sure you are watering deeply, and that mulch is thick enough to keep irrigation in the soil longer. If ants are starting to come in the house, check that mulch and other plant litter is pulled back from against the house by about six inches. Mulch right against the house provides ants with a covered entrance that encourages insects to walk right in and make themselves at home.
Line of ants
Mid- to late September is a good time to put down lawn seed or sod. Soils continue to stay warm even as air temperatures lower, and warm soil is the key to excellent seed and sod success. For more great help on deciding between seed or sod, read on: Distressed Lawn: Revitalize or Replace?

Garden Tip: Do not put down pre-emergents 90 days before or after putting in seed or sod. Pre-emergents will prevent lawn seed from germinating, and can stunt sod root growth.
September is the beginning of one of the greatest planting times of the year for trees and shrubs. Just like lawn, new plants really appreciate warm air and soil. Roots will expand to double or even triple their original size over fall and winter. Tree canopies will reach out and grow, providing critical shade protection to trunks and branches. With fall planting we allow plants to mature and really be able to handle next summer’s intense heat and sun with ease. When plants are allowed to mature over fall and winter, they better resist disease, insect pests, as well as sunburn when next summer arrives.

You might have a little bit of work to get that planting site ready if it is bone dry and solid. Our gurus have some helpful tips for you: Gently sprinkle the area with water, then cover it with mulch to keep that water in the soil. Every now and again, sprinkle with more water and replace the mulch. This encourages earthworms, beneficial insects, and soil-loving bacteria to get busy and improve the soil for you. After a while you will find it is possible to dig the planting hole you need, and the soil will be in better condition, ready for your new plant.

Other Tasks For September

  • Take a little time out from the task list and fill your favorite pot with seasonal annuals like pansies, add mums or ornamental kale, and a tall grass to ring in fall. Extra room? Add a decorated pumpkin!
  • Thin citrus fruit for healthier, larger fruit.
  • Roses will love having spent flowers removed and give you a fresh season of blooms as a thank you.
  • Relocate irrigation to water at the canopy edge (drip line) of plants that have been in the ground for six months. The drip edge is where thirsty roots are.
  • See our Vegetable Planting Calendar for which cool-season veggies can be started this month.
  • Towards the end of September, you might need to reduce the number of watering days as plants slow down their growth. Check for your watering schedule at BeWaterSmart.
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