Fall is a unique time for lawn management. As of this writing, there are only about 60 days until the average first frost. The lawn should be winding down but we still have to mow until cooler temperatures and shorter days stop the grass from growing.
Following the recent rains, I have noticed some mushrooms growing in my lawn. The mushrooms are not really a problem but I don’t care for them in my yard. One excellent gardener that lives just south of Lufkin, told me at church last week that she counted 27 mushrooms in her yard! And she notified me that they wouldn’t last long either!
Mushrooms are kind of a compliment, albeit unwanted. To me, their presence merely implies that you have been receiving plenty of rain and that you have some nutrient content in your lawn’s soil.
And regarding your soils nutrient content, I would bet on it being too late to fertilize for the remainder of the year. The “winter-izer fertilizer” sounds like a good idea and can be, so long as it is put out well before the lawn goes dormant.
Think of it in this manner: Do you want to get supper at 11:00 pm? That would be a little late, wouldn’t it? Yep, putting out fertilizer at about the time that the lawn is transitioning to dormancy for the winter is certainly feeding it too late.
“But what about lime?” you say. Truly lime, is not a fertilizer per se but a material that you use to change the pH of the soil. We apply it in the fall months so that this ground up limestone rock will have time to react with the soil and create a more favorable growing condition for the soil come spring.
We lime soils to reduce acidity. On the pH scale you learned in high school chemistry, pH can range from 1 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline.
We want to bring a low pH closer to the neutral value of 7 because that allows for the nutrients in the soil be more available. A value from 6.5 to 7.0 is considered ideal for most lawns and plants.
Lastly, if you want to have the most control of fire ants, over the largest area, with the most minimal input, strongly consider applying a broadcast treatment of fire ant bait in the fall. Joe Rich reminded me that I suggested that to him months ago.
Keeping with an old marketing campaign against fire ants: Tackle them in the Fall. I hope you caught the football analogy, because it works. When football season is upon us, you can “tackle” them with a broadcasted fire ant bait that they will take to their mounds as a food store for the winter. Then while winter wears on, they will feed upon it thus greatly reducing their numbers. According to some studies, if properly applied in the fall, you’ll see 90 to 95% reduction in fire ant mounds come spring. Just be sure to treat as large an area as possible.
Looking ahead, the Angelina County Master Gardeners will be holding their annual Fall Plant Sale this Saturday, September 29. It will be in the Angelina County Farmers Market with gates opening at 8 am. Natives and well adapted plants will be featured. There is a limited amount of plants so be sure to come earlier in the morning as we tend to sell out well before lunch. Email the address below or stop by our office to get a complete listing of plants that will be for sale.
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org