For Release November 19, 2002

Is It Too Late To.....?

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

With a four day weekend coming up at the end of the month, and some nice sunny weather for late November in store, a lot of homeowners may be looking at their yard and wondering, "Is it too late to do this that or the other?" Fortunately, for many of the tasks that you may want to do, the answer is no, it isnít too late.

Letís start with lawns. For cool season grass lawns (tall fescue, bluegrass or ryegrass) they are still growing very well. While weíve had some frosty weather, we havenít had temperatures cold enough to really put these grasses into winter dormancy. Therefore there is still plenty of time to apply fertilizer. The plants can still take up these nutrients and put them into the root system so the grass is ready to go next spring.

The October rains really brought on a lot of germinating weeds. These are all species like dandelion, henbit, speedwell and chickweed. Right now they are small and easy to control with herbicides. You can use the combination weed and feed granular products, but you may see quicker results with a foliar applied liquid product. If you have a lot of tree leaves on your yard, you will want to either rake these up or mulch them with the mower before trying to apply fertilizer or weed control products. A heavy leaf layer can significantly reduce effectiveness of weed control products and tie up fertilizers so they arenít immediately available to the grass.

If you have a warm season grass lawn (Bermuda, zoysia or Buffalograss) they are well into winter dormancy. For these lawns, spray for fall emerging broadleaf weeds but do no fertilizing until next spring when they start to green up.

Avoid the temptation to make that last mowing a really short mowing. Leave the mower set at that highest setting to provide adequate vegetative cover for those grass crowns through the winter. If you want to clean up some of that old growth, either mow it short once in the spring, or power rake it next spring.

How about planting grass seed in late November? Well, thereís an old saying that you can plant a cool season grass in any month whoís name has an R in it. Planting this late in the year would be considered a dormant season planting. The fescue or bluegrass should come up, but it may be late winter or next spring before it happens and then you may have to overseed some thin areas.

What about planting other things like trees, shrubs or spring flowering bulbs? Sure! You can plant most species of containerized trees or shrubs in the fall and even into the winter as long as the ground hasnít frozen yet. Occasionally we will see winter kill or winter damage from fall planted trees and shrubs, but most of the time fall planting works well. One advantage is that root growth in woodies starts very early in the season so the roots are in place and remain undisturbed after they start their spring growth. One thing to be careful of this year is avoiding working very wet soil. You may run into some of that this year and you may be better off to wait on planting in those cases.

Spring flowering bulbs can be planted well into December as well. This later planting will delay flowering slightly next spring, but you will still have very good results. So, the weather is nice, and you have the time, get out there and get some final fall yard and garden work done!


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