Plan ahead now for better gardening, landscaping success in the fall

What a difference a little rain makes! And what a rainy week it was. When it rains so fast and heavily, it is impossible to catch everything; but heavy rain events like these are encouragement to set up some rain barrels to catch for later when it gets dry again. Consider adding a rainwater harvesting system to your landscape – whether it’s a small rain barrel or several large tanks, every little bit makes a difference in both water conservation and plant health. Further information can be found at

Now that it’s almost September, it’s time to put pre-application on your to-do list. Pre-emergence is a type of herbicide that kills seedlings as they germinate and must be applied before emergence. It does not control existing weeds or perennial weeds, it is most effective for annual weeds that only return from seed every year. Wait several days for the soil temperature to cool to around 70 degrees before pre-emergence in the fall, which usually happens in the second half of September or early October. For more detailed instructions on how to apply pre-emergence herbicides to the lawn, visit and click on “Pre-Emergence Herbicides”. Read the label carefully and follow all directions for product rate and usage advice.

Wildflowers need autumn rains to begin, so have them sowed sometime between September and November.

If you have St. Augustine grass, fall is also a great time to take preventative measures against root rot disease. Cover the lawn with one to two balls of peat moss per thousand square feet, apply a fungicide like azoxystrobin (like Scott’s DiseasEx), and fertilize with a micronutrient fertilizer that contains manganese and iron. It is especially important if there has been damage from this disease in the past, but only the peat-moss step is beneficial even if the grass has not been under disease pressure. If done twice a year in the spring and fall, it can help prevent take-all from damaging large sections of the lawn.

Late August is a good time to add pre-application to your lawn's to-do list.

It will also soon be time to plant wildflower seeds like bluebonnets, so plan ahead and don’t apply pre-emergence anywhere you plan to plant wildflower seeds (or other seeds like vegetables or lawns). Wildflowers need autumn rains to begin, so have them sowed sometime between September and November.

Monarch butterflies migrate through this area each fall and migrate back south to Mexico. Plant some nectar flowers to help on their long journey, such as lantana, salvia, butterfly bush, and blue mist flower.

Autumn is a busy time this year with a variety of educational opportunities. To stay informed about upcoming events, sign up for the monthly Concho Valley Horticulture Update e-newsletter at The Master Gardeners are holding their Fall Landscaping Symposium on September 11th, pre-registration is required – don’t miss it!

Allison Watkins is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for the horticultural sector in Tom Green County. Contact them at

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