October is the perfect month to take a moment to prepare your landscape setting for cooler weather. Making just a few adjustments to your yard or garden during the fall will help your yard look healthy and vibrant next spring.
A variety of pests are known to damage lawn grass in central Florida during the fall months. Caterpillars are common landscape pests that feed on the roots and leaves of grass. White grubworms and fall armyworms are two types of caterpillars that often appear during this time.
Caterpillars are the larval form of moths that make lawn grass turn yellow or brown. Grass leaves may take on a ragged appearance when these pests are present. Feeding caterpillars also can damage the root system of lawn grass, making it unable for the grass to obtain the water it needs to look healthy and green.
If white grub worms or army worms are feeding on grass roots, your lawn grass will roll up easily like a carpet or feel loose and spongy. Grass also can become infested with scale insects and grass mites.
While scale insects live in the soil where they attack grass roots, grass mites primarily damage leaves, causing them to appear stippled and unsightly. Inspect your lawn grass on a weekly basis so insect infestations do not go unnoticed. Keeping your lawn well-hydrated and fertilized will minimize insect activity.
October is the last month of the year to fertilize zoysia grass, St.Augustine grass, Bermuda grass and bahia grass in central Florida. For best results, choose a fertilizer that is 50 percent soluble and 50 percent slow-release nitrogen.
Shrubs and trees
Take a moment to inspect the trees in your landscape. Look at the trunk, twigs and branches for signs of boring insects. Trees infested with these damaging pests often have visible holes in the trunk.
The black twig borer is often seen in our area, so be sure to look at the twigs on the outer canopy of hardwoods for signs of infestation. If you find damaged branches or twigs, remove them but avoid heavy pruning if possible.
Fall is the perfect time to add new shrubs, vines and groundcovers to your yard or garden. By planting in the fall, new plants will have time to establish their roots before warm spring weather arrives. If your shrubs and trees have grown during the year, be sure to trim them away from your home to keep unwelcome guests such as rats and squirrels from entering your home when temperatures are cooler.
This is the time to prepare your flower beds if you are planting cool season annuals during the month of October. A multitude of cool season annuals do well when planted during the fall. Pansies, snapdragons, petunias, daylilies, marigolds, calendulas, larkspur and bachelor button are all good choices for this time of year in central Florida. Cutting the stalks of flowering annuals and applying fertilizer may allow you to get one more good show of color before winter.
Many people store wood outdoors during the summer for use in fireplaces during the winter. Always inspect any firewood stored outside for signs of termites before bringing wood inside.
Subterranean and drywood termites both swarm during the fall, especially when the humidity is high and temperatures are still warm. Stacks of firewood may also be favorite hiding places for spiders, wasps and scorpions, which can enter your home when you bring wood inside.
Late September and October mean pine trees are shedding their needles. You can recycle pine needles by placing them around your shrubs, flowers and trees as mulch after raking.