Fall has ideal temperatures for reseeding lawns

For those of you who have had damage to your lawns this past summer, the end of September is absolutely the best time to mend cool-season lawns like fescues, ryes and bluegrasses. Don’t skimp on the price of seed if you are reseeding a damaged lawn.

If you are having gardeners do this work for you, specify the seed or buy it yourself. If you leave it up to most gardeners, they are going to buy the least expensive seed on the shelf. If this is a home lawn and it is fescue, do not use Kentucky 31, sometimes called K31. Most people will be unhappy with this grass due to its coarse texture.

If you have a Bermuda grass lawn and you are planning for it to be green during the winter by overseeding it, try using perennial ryegrass rather than annual ryegrass. It will cost a bit more but most people like the look of perennial ryegrass over annual ryegrass. Everything else is the same, you just substitute grass seed.

If you live near our extension office and love roses, you might want to consider joining the local rose society that meets in the Lifelong Learning Center. The South Valley Rose Society meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month from September through May. The extension building is located at 8050 S. Maryland Parkway. This is a great time to get to know your roses.

Q: We have a garden that is situated in our back pasture. Since it is irrigated with irrigation water, it is now overwhelmed with weeds, mostly spurge, that I cannot control anymore. However, the watermelons are doing fine and don’t seem to mind.

Now, I see pretty yellow moths or butterflies flitting around them. Is this something I need to be concerned about? Are they going to morph into something that is going to eat all the vines up? If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it.

A: The moths are not a problem. It is probably a skipper or sulfur butterfly and not a problem for melons.

Two of the big problems you will have are squash bugs and whiteflies. If you don’t have them, you soon will. Watch for these. Squash bugs usually show up in August and will devastate your melons.

The other problem is whiteflies, which are small, usually light-colored insects that fly around the plants when they are disturbed. Usually the first thing you notice is that the melons’ rinds are sticky; this is from the whiteflies sucking plant juices and depositing them on fruits and leaves.

If you can, hand pick the squash bugs off the plants or use a handheld cordless vacuum cleaner as you see them and you will be ahead of the game.

Neem oil sprayed according to the label or soap sprays repeated twice a week will give you some control over the whiteflies. The spray has to be at a high enough pressure to make the leaves flip around so that you can spray the underside of the leaves as well as the tops.

Q: I have several crape myrtle trees. We had a freeze in Henderson and my trees survived, but the flowers are very sparse this year. The trees were planted in July 2006 when we had our landscaping done. What is the best way to take care of crape myrtles as far as fertilizing, and how much water do they require?

A: Crape myrtles are pretty cold hardy. However, it is possible that some flower buds were damaged with a late freeze.

Use an iron chelate like KeRex according to the label in mid-January. Apply a granular fertilizer around the emitters at the same time. This could be any all-purpose fertilizer for landscape trees and shrubs. Follow up with a foliar application of Miracle-Gro or Peters when you see new growth occurring, about mid- or late March.

They like wood mulch best and require about as much water as any other small tree. I would be irrigating them similar to how you are irrigating fruit trees, your roses and other medium-sized to large landscape shrubs.

Q: I have a canna and some of the leaves have holes in them, with brown areas around the holes. What is the best way to take care of that plant?

A: Cannas should be grown in soil with plenty of organic matter. Make sure that plenty of compost was added to the soil at the time of planting. If you are not sure, take them out around in late September and replant them using plenty of compost.

After planting, cover the soil with wood mulch or some type of organic mulch; do not cover them with rock. Fertilize them at the time of planting with a high-phosphorus fertilizer. Fertilize them in the spring just before new growth starts or you can wait until you see them poking out of the ground.

When they get about a foot tall, spray the foliage with a liquid fertilizer. You can fertilize them a third time after they have finished blooming but before it gets cold. This last fertilizer will help the plants rebuild their roots for next year’s growth.

Bob Morris is an associate professor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Direct gardening questions to the master gardener hot line at 257-5555 or contact Morris by e-mail at extremehort@aol.com.

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