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Things to work on before too much time passes

Grass is greener...

POSTED: September 20, 2013 12:33 p.m.

Now that we are past Labor Day, there are a few things you can do — and not do — around the yard before we get too deep into the NFL season.  
One good thing not to do now is apply nitrogen fertilizer to the lawn. Centipede lawns should have seen their last nitrogen before the end of August, while St. Augustine lawns should be seeing their last nitrogen just about now. If in doubt, do not fertilize. Close up the bag and store it in a cool dry place for next May.
If you have crabgrass now, you probably are better off waiting until Valentine’s Day 2014 and making sure the pre-emerge herbicide gets put on to prevent next year’s crop of crabgrass rather than trying to kill it now. Crabgrass is easy to control when it germinates in early winter and just stubborn as a rusted wheel nut after it gets up. The only thing worse is doveweed.
Plan on pre-emerge application for winter lawn weeds – mostly annual bluegrass – during the first two weeks of October. Surflan, Balan, Crabgrass Preventer, Halts, Team 2G, XL2G, Turf and Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper can be used on St. Augustine, zoysia and centipede in October. Straight atrazine products like Hi-Yield Atrazine, Image for St. Augustine and Centipedegrass can be used in October only on centipede and St. Augustine lawns, and I am not too comfortable with centipede if it gets cool early.
Check around the foundation(s) of your home and any outbuildings for debris that may be piling up beside the buildings and clean it up. Several good reasons for this cleanup include denying cover for rodents, keeping the lower foot of the foundation clear so you can check for termite tunnels easily, keeping humidity low at the foundation line, and removing burnable debris that could feed a fire. We have plenty of rain now, but we easily can get dry again. Wildfire prevention works at the household level as well as the forest level.
The above goes for landscape plantings as well. The termite barrier injected into the soil next to your home foundation only works as long as the barrier is intact. Do not dig up soil or plant flowers within a foot of your home’s foundation. That foot should be bare ground. No, not even mulch. Organic mulch on top of the ground in contact with the foundation gives termites a bridge to bypass your termite barrier.
Speaking of termites, I have had to learn to identify drywood termites this year. Drywood termites do not always get into your home on their own initiative. We sometimes bring them in by mistake. One common source of drywood termites is antique furniture and picture frames brought into a home that previously was free of drywood termites. Always check furniture for termite activity before bringing it into your home. No cattleman would buy new stock and off-load them into his herd. He will hold them in quarantine for a while to make sure he did not buy more than he bargained for. You should do the same with antique furniture and reclaimed wood.
We are only halfway through hurricane season. While it has been quiet so far, things can change quickly. Rainy days can be put to good use by updating your bug-out boxes so that, if they are needed, you can focus on hitting the road instead of trying to find where the security deed, insurance policies, passports, car titles and other important papers are stored. While you are at it, check your termite policy and see if it covers drywood termites. If not, consider a policy upgrade, especially if you are into collecting antique wood. Good productive use of endless pre-game and halftime hype, too!

Gardner lives in Keller and is the UGA extension agent for Glynn County, serving South Bryan.

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