We’re just a couple of days away from the official start of fall which has us looking forward to Autumn colors, decorating our front porches with pumpkins, cornstalks, and mums, and all of the fun fairs and activities that the new season has to offer.

With everything going on, it can be easy to forget about your garden, but good news! We have an updated, easy fall checklist you can reference throughout the season to make sure your yard is in its best shape before winter hits.

Be sure to stop by Van Wilgen’s for all the plants and supplies you need. We’re here to help!

FallChecklist web

It’s June, and your gloriously green, spring lawn, may not be looking quite as vibrant right now. So let’s do something about it! It’s time to give your lawn a little boost. As the weather turns hot, the cool-season grasses in our lawns start to suffer and could use a little of your help to look and feel better. When working on your lawn, just a few things to keep in mind:

• Small patch seeding only! Don’t take on big seeding projects this time of the year. If you do, you’ll have to water so much you won’t have time to enjoy your super green lawn. Only do small, manageable, bare patches of seeding.

• Keep the lawn mowed as high as you can tolerate. Never let that mower dip below 3 inches. The higher the lawn is, the less chance of burnout in the summer heat.

• You are either all in or all out. Meaning if you’re going to water in the summer months, commit to it. No piddly amounts of water will do. If you are only going to give your lawn shot glasses full of water, then do not bother at all. Just let it go dormant and take a little summer rest.

If at least a month has passed, since your last lawn fertilization, it’s time to get out there and do it again. Here’s the good news, there are many choices to fit your lawn’s needs.

• If your lawn is just looking a little tired, not quite as green, and not overrun with weeds, you could stick to fertilizer. Not just any ordinary fertilizer, but one that contains iron. Iron is great when applied in the month of June. It adds strength, vigor, and deep green color to our lawns, making them look better through the hot summer months ahead. Grab yourself a bag of Summer Revitalizer by Espoma or Milorganite.

• If you recently fertilized your lawn within the last four weeks but you still want that nice green color that iron gives you, then you can apply Fast Acting Iron by Earth Sciences. Talk about green!

• If your lawn is crying out for the nice green color iron adds to it, but still has quite a few weeds popping up, then the perfect combination would be one of the above fertilizers with a bottle of liquid weed control. You can choose a synthetic, such as Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra plus Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Killer, or a natural, such as Weed Beater Fe. You’ll get a wider range of weed control with this synthetic choice but it is nice to know that a natural choice exists.

• Don’t forget the grub control this month. The new, hungry batch of grubs have not hatched yet but they will be soon and you want to be prepared. It is time to put down Grub Ex. Be sure to water it in or put it down before a rainfall to be most effective. If natural is the way for you, then you can put down Milky Spore to help keep those damaging critters at bay.

• If inevitably, each summer, your lawn is plagued with the summertime disease, now is the time to be proactive and put Bonide‘s Infuse Fungicide down. Be sure to water in and you may even consider a second application in 10 days.

Summer is on its way and this is the time we will want to enjoy our lawns the most. Give them a June boost now for the best summer lawn ahead! Happy Gardening!

Are thinking of planting a new lawn or just filling in your existing one? Don’t just think about it, do it! I am a huge fan of seeding, whether it is a brand new lawn, filling in bare patches, or thickening up your existing turf, now is the perfect time to tackle this project. Put a little sweat into your lawn. Mow, rake, aerate, seed, fertilize, and water… it is so worth it!

When doing a seeding project all of the above steps are important, but water is the key. If you are thirsty, so is your grass seed. Sounds silly? I am serious. The thirstier you are on any given day, the quicker your grass seed is drying out. Water is the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to do it right the first time! 

So, you just went to the refrigerator to get yourself another glass of ________(Fill in the blank with your beverage of choice.) This should be your signal to head outside and check your new grass seed. If it is dry, give it some water. Grass seed needs to stay moist every day. If it dries out, the seed will not even have a chance to split open. Grass seed is close to the surface so it can germinate, this is where the soil needs to stay damp. The top layer of soil can dry out quickly. The sunnier and windier the day is, the quicker the seed dries out. New seed does not need to be watered long, 30 minutes is usually sufficient. However, you may need to water 2X’s in a day. The sunnier the spot is, the more water it needs. Areas along driveways, walkways, curbs, and slopes tend to dry out quicker. Be sure to give these spots a little extra attention.

Is there a better time to water than others? Of course, there is. Morning is the best time to water, but the afternoon is acceptable too. The fall is the perfect time to seed because the soil is warm and nights are getting cooler, leaving a nice coating of morning dew. There may occasionally be enough dew to get you off the hook from watering! Be careful though, if it gets sunny through the day, the lawn may dry out quickly and need another watering in the afternoon. Try to avoid watering at all in the evening, however, if that is the only time you have to do it, then evening water is better than no water at all. New seedlings can get a disease called Pythium, which can wipe them out in a day if the seedlings remain too wet through the night.

Note: There is such a thing as over-watering. If you over-water your new seed, the seed may rot, wash away, or float above the soil. Be careful not to leave puddles or make mud pies out of your lawn. If this is the case, you are being too good of a caregiver of your newly seeded lawn.

It is a good idea to cover the seed with mulch. I really like Mainely Mulch. It is a weed-free straw/hay combo that covers new seeds nicely, holding in moisture, keeping birds from eating the seed, and slowing down erosion. The best thing about Mainely Mulch is you do not have to rake it up after the grass grows. It will biodegrade into the soil, adding a little bit of organic matter. A little extra bonus! Greenview’s Seed Accelerator is my favorite for smaller patches. It is a recycled paper mulch pellet with built-in starter fertilizer. You sprinkle the pellets right over the grass seed and water them in. They expand, hold in moisture, and fertilize at the same time!

Don’t be fooled. Just when you think you are done watering your new grass seed, you may have to keep going. Different types of grass germinate at different rates. Perennial Ryegrass is your quickest one to sprout, coming up in 5 to 7 days if conditions are right. Kentucky Blue is a beauty but you have to be patient since it can take up to 25 days to see any germination. Please do not stop watering just because you see a few green sprouts… There are a lot more to come.

Here is my rule of 3 for newly seeded lawns: In the first 3 weeks, water your grass seed 2 times per day for approximately 30 minutes. In the second 3 weeks, water your lawn, 3 times per week for a longer period of time, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. This will encourage a deeper root system and a much healthier lawn. Give your lawn one last treat around Thanksgiving. Feed it with a Fall lawn fertilizer by Greenview or Espoma. It will go to bed happy and healthy for its long winter nap.

Lawn & Plant Care

Peonies are garden classics! They’ve earned their classic status with their easy care and their incredible longevity. To get them to be spectacular and long-lived, follow a few easy steps.

Skip the big spring fertilizing, your peonies were busy building roots last fall. Adding a granulated, bulb fertilizer like Bulb-tone lightly around the base of your plants, is all the spring fertilizing you’ll need to do. Watch for Gray Mold or Botrytis on shoots. If you spot the mold, spray with Copper Fungicide to control. As for ants on peonies, they are part of life and not really a sign of serious consequences. You’ll do better if you just ignore them.

By now, the red shoots of peonies are turning green and spring blooms are about a month away, but now is the time to put out those cages and peony hoops. It’s easier to do them earlier than later. If you are planting new ones, Van Wilgens offers newer varieties with singles flowers. These varieties are just as fragrant and seldom require staking or hoops.

Pretty simple! More questions? Stop by and see us! We’ll help fill in the blanks.