The list of to-dos for the September desert gardener can be rather long, but the results will be apparent when the weather cools and your plants begin to shine.
Toward the end of September, beginning of October, apply a pre-emergent. I use a product called SURFLAN XL, a granular product that must be applied before weeds emerge. Use a hand-held seed spreader and apply over your entire yard, including plants. You can buy SURFLAN XL locally at Ewing Irrigation (ewingirrigation.com) or John Deere Landscapes (johndeerelandscapes.com) or on Amazon.com. Be sure to read the directions thoroughly and follow them closely.
All plants should be fertilized this month except cacti, which generally don’t need supplemental fertilizer. Fertilize citrus trees with a special citrus or general-purpose fertilizer. Mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide in a gallon of Miracle Grow and water plants that are stressed and yellow from the summer heat; follow two weeks later with a granular, general-purpose fertilizer. Pygmy palms respond well to fish emulsion; apply it often and in small quantities as directed on the package. Water any fertilizer in well with a hose and then turn on the drip system manually for one cycle to deliver nutrients to the roots. Flowering plants should be fertilized every two weeks with Miracle Grow.
Trimming and Pruning
As temps cool below a hundred, prune your plants and ground covers back lightly to shape or control the size, taking as little as a few inches off the tips of the plant to cutting up to 1/3 off in extreme cases.
Wait until the 100-degree days are over before you begin to slowly decrease watering frequency. Recommended fall settings for your drip system on an established yard are as follows: trees 2.5 hours every seven days, shrubs 1.5 hours every four days, pots or flowers 10 to 15 minutes every two days.
As soon as you see the winter annuals in the stores, buy them and get them planted, even if your summer plants still look good. The sooner you get winter ones started, the faster they’ll get growing.
This should keep you busy for a little bit while you wait for the over-seeded golf course to re-open!