As we get into springtime and warm season grasses begin to grow, there are some management practices we can perform to ensure a nice healthy lawn. It is important to decide how much time, money and effort you are willing to spend to manage and have that nice, healthy lawn.
The homeowner will need to decide whether they will perform all the lawn maintenance themselves or hire a lawn care professional. There are numerous lawn care professionals around that are certified and keep up with the latest information for a healthy lawn.
The soil test is the best management tool we have to determine nutrient requirements of our soil, which is the basis of all grass production. Our turfgrass needs sunlight, water, and nutrients to grow properly. For most soils in East Texas, a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is desired. A soil test can tell us pH and how much limestone it may take to raise the pH to desirable levels.
The soil test also tells us what nutrients are present or lacking and at what levels in our soils. Some soils may need a balanced fertilizer while others may only require certain levels of macronutrients at various stages of production throughout the growing season.
Fertilize the lawn following the soil test recommendations. It is recommended to fertilize the warm season grass varieties once they have broken dormancy and the average nightly temperatures average in the 60-65 degree range.
A dense, healthy lawn is the best defense against weed species. Healthy lawns have fewer weeds, diseases, and insect problems. A well-maintained lawn looks appealing and is also more wear tolerant. Controlling weeds before fertilizing the home lawn can be helpful as well. Otherwise, the weeds may take up the nutrients and the grass species will not get the benefit of the nutrients available.
Warm season grass varieties for East Texas include bermudagrass, centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysiagrass. All have different management requirements for mowing height, fertility, shade, drought and traffic tolerance. Are you managing an existing lawn or establishing a new lawn? It is important to get some cover on the soil with the moisture conditions lately to prevent soil erosion. If establishing a new lawn, be mindful that germination times will vary.
With the recent rains, soil moisture should be in good supply to lawns and flower beds. Monitor irrigation systems as too much water can lead to issues in the lawn or garden. It may be necessary to alter irrigation schedules during this period of wet weather.
Monitor your lawn and gardens for disease and other infestations. The potential for disease infestations exists with moisture and air temperature. Scout for poorly rooted grass indicating the potential for take-all root rot. Circular patches could indicate large patch infestations in the home lawn. If your grass does not transition well and stays yellow after a fertilize application, this could be a sign of a disease issue.
There are other pests that may cause damage to the home lawn. Insect species and nuisance animals such as skunks, armadillos, gophers, moles and even feral hogs may cause damage to the home lawn. All are seeking food and the home lawn may be a prime location to find a ready supply of food.
Spring may also be a good time to rework flower beds adding mulch and planting shrubs, bulbs, or other garden plants. Mulch is important and aids in moisture control as well as a weed barrier in your flower beds. Pruning of shrubs and damaged limbs are other things to consider this time of year.
Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status.