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Weather temperatures are changing as well as landscape maintenance procedures.October is the best time to plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Although the selection now is not as good as the spring, many box stores have ordered a few new plants. The retail nurseries are always open and many times will offer discounts to their customers.Spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils can be planted now in well-drained soil and full sun. When buying new bulbs, purchase those that are plump and heavy for their size. If they feel soft and squashy, this usually indicate a presence of rot or tissue breakdown. In existing bulbs, if the plants are not producing healthy bloom, it may be time to divide them.Now is also the time to dig and store any tender bulbs such as dahlias and hyacinth and store in a cool dry place. If division is not possible, applying a 2-inch layer of mulch will usually protect the bulbs from freezing. Cut off any leaves about ½ inches from top of bulb. Irises can still be transplanted or divided if needed.By the end of this month the fall vegetable garden will usually finish producing. When it is about to freeze, you are usually left with several bushels of tomatoes, and wonder which tomatoes will continue to ripen. Select representative tomatoes and slice through them with a sharp knife. If the knife passes the seeds, place them on the window seal, these tomatoes will ripen. If the knife passes through the seeds, then that fruit is too immature and should be used in chow-chow or relish.Bermuda grass will slowly decrease in growth rate until the growing season is over. The mowing (2 ½ to 3 inches) is still needed to keep the turf development steady until all growth for this season is over. A well mowed yard looks good in the winter months even if it is a tan color. When the grass actively stops growing, the mower can be used to grind tree leaves, making them easier to dispose of or just leave the ground leaves on the ground. Bermudagrass does not need a winterize fertilizer.If some of the summer annual plants start to fade, it’s time to pull them. Fall temperature will not allow most of them to recover. Cleaning the beds of dead or dying plant parts will remove protection from insects and diseases overwintering. For winter color, planting, pansies, ornamental cabbage, kale and mums will keep the flower beds looking great to.October is an excellent time to control broadleaf weeds in well-established bermudagrass or tall fescue lawns. Post-emergence herbicides such as 2,4 D, dicamba, the organic arsenicals and combinations of these herbicides can be used on weeds that are growing now. Roundup should not be used at this time because it will kill any plants that have green leaves.Most preemergence herbicides will not control actively growing weeds, but will kill seeds that are germinating now such as henbit and dandelions. Timing is critical because the herbicide must be in place when the seeds germinate. A thorough coverage is important so it is best to use a professional lawn care service who have the spray equipment to get the coverage needed.This a good time to assess the success of this year’s landscape after our winter freeze. Did the trees and shrubs survive the freeze? Have plants planted this year become established and fit the overall beauty of the landscape? Are there some spaces in the landscape that needs to be filled in with plant material? Is the bermuda grass thinning under a tree so lower limbs should be removed or a tall fescue be planted? Now is the time to start planning for next year’s actions.Jim Coe lives in Lawton and writes a weekly gardening column.
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