Plants and Pests with Nicole

September 2022


Welcome to my new newsletter. I have included all of my current Master Gardeners as well as the Office Managers and Lead Educators for the 11 counties within my accountability region. If I have missed someone, please let me know and I will get them added to the list.

This newsletter is aimed to help with current horticulture issues and timing of landscape activities.

Fall Lawncare

Fall is a great time to improve your lawn.

Reseed or overseed in late summer or early fall, anytime between late August and the middle of September, before Labor Day is best. Too late in September and your new turfgrass will be subject to possible damage from an early frost or freeze. Be sure to keep your new grass consistently moist during the germination period. The irrigation doesn’t need to be for long periods of time at first, just short, quick bursts of irrigation. Watering the seeded area with a hose-end sprayer until the soil is damp 2-3 times daily is sufficient.

Fall fertilization is the most important fertilizer application for a lawn.

  • For newly seeded turf, a starter fertilizer with higher levels of phosphorus, the second number on the fertilizer bag, should be applied at or slightly after seeding. A second application of starter fertilizer should then be applied 4 weeks after emergence or mid-October, whichever occurs first.
  • Turf that is less than 10 years old or thin turf requires more fertilizer than older, more established turf areas. Additionally, turf areas that are thin or were damaged by a pest will also benefit from additional fall N to accelerate recovery prior to winter. For these sites apply a 50% soluble and 50% slow-release nitrogen fertilizer in late-August to early-September. Then make a follow-up application of a quick release fertilizer in mid-October. Apply 0.5 to 1.0 lbs N per 1000 square feet.
  • Established turf is a lawn that is 10+ years old and needs less input. One application of a balanced released nitrogen source in mid-September will be sufficient in most cases. Look for a fertilizer product with 30 to 50% of the total nitrogen as quick-release/soluble nitrogen. This will provide even release during the fall. Apply 0.5 to 1.0 lbs N per 1000 square feet.

The best time to apply broadleaf herbicides in the fall is late September and again in mid-late October. In fall, perennial weeds are moving carbohydrates from the leaves into the roots for winter storage. Herbicides used in fall will be moved into the roots along with the carbohydrates, making the herbicide more effective. Use products containing 2,4-D, carfentrazone, sulfentrazone, quinclorac, or triclopyr. The later fall application of post-emergence herbicides for broadleaf weeds will also hit and kill henbit that germinates in the fall and is noticed in the early spring. Spraying it in the fall will kill it before it blooms and sets seed.

Upcoming Events

Yard and Garden Fall Episodes

Husker Harvest Days

  • September 13-15 in Grand Island
  • Nicole will be at the Horticulture, Landscape, and Environmental Systems booth in the Nebraska Extension building on September 15th

KWBE Radio Interview

  • 8:30am on Monday, October 10th
  • Listen live on 1450 AM

Tree Pruning & Selection Workshop

  • Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva
  • 6:00 PM on Tuesday October 11th
Big picture

Fall Garden Cleanup

In the fall you should clean up your vegetable garden when you are finished with the plants or when they have died back due to frost. Removing plants and cleaning up the garden helps reduce insect and disease issues in the following year.
  • Remove the plants and compost them. If your plants had a disease issue this year, do not compost them, throw those in the garbage so that the disease doesn’t come through the compost.
  • After plant removal, add manure or other fertilizer if necessary then till the garden. Tilling the garden in the fall exposes insect eggs and weed seeds to winter temperatures, killing them for the following year.
  • A thin layer of straw mulch or grass clippings will help hold your topsoil in place through strong winter winds.

Flower gardens can be cleaned up in the fall as well, or they can be left to be cleaned up in the spring. Leaving the plant material over the winter can add winter interest. Plants with hollow stems should be left as egg laying locations for many pollinators including many of our solitary bees. Also, plants with hollow stems should not be pruned off in the fall because moisture can get in the hollow stems and freeze and thaw through the winter damaging the crown of the plant. This includes plants like roses and butterfly bushes.

  • If you clean up your garden in the fall wait until after a killing frost to do so.
  • Iris and peony plants should not be pruned back until after the leaves have turned brown in the fall.
Big picture

Timing is Everything

  • When digging summer bulbs clean all the mud off of the bulbs and trim the tops off, allow them to dry or cure outside for 1-2 weeks, then store them in a box with peat moss around them in a cool, dark location for the winter.
  • Before bringing houseplants indoors, spray the plant with sevin a few days ahead of bringing them inside so insects on the plants are not brought into your house with the plant.
  • Barrier insecticides, such as Ortho Home Defense, can be used on the outside of the house and around doors and windows to keep fall invading insects outside. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

Nicole Stoner

Nicole Stoner is the Horticulture Extension Educator located in Gage County, serving Southeast Nebraska. Nicole's focus areas include trees, shrubs, lawns, gardens, and insects. Nicole obtained her Master's Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for Horticulture with a minor in Insect Science, she also has Bachelor's Degrees from UNL in both areas. Nicole is also an ISA Certified Arborist and has her Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ).