Spring has sprung! Are you prepared?
How difficult is it to keep a lawn looking as good as mine? It's easy and I'll tell you how I do it.
In the Lake Houston area caring for your lawn can be tricky so here are a few tips. First it’s a good idea to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in late winter (between late January and the end of February) that will prevent weeds from springing up when it starts to warm up. This will prep the soil and activate when the air warms and you water the grass again in spring.
Second, aerate your lawn. This step is very important for your Houston lawn, since you’ll have warm-season grass planted. This type of grass includes St. Augustine and Bermuda among others. This kind of grass becomes dead on the end and accumulates stray stems and leaves, which can be quite the eyesore. You should do this in late February.
Shortly after you aerate your lawn, mow the old grass low to remove much of this debris and remove the dead ends. Bermuda lawns should be cut to a half (½) inch and other types of grass like St. Augustine should be cut to one (1) inch long. Some think that if you leave the clippings on top of the grass to decompose it acts as a natural fertilizer. If you use a lawn mower with a bag that collects your grass clippings you are in my recommended world because it tends to give your lawn a more manicured look.
This step is very important for several reasons. For starters, the dead grass and natural debris can create a heavy thatch that makes it difficult for water and nutrients to penetrate the soil and access the roots. This could promote disease, leaving brown spots on your lawn. In addition, mowing the grass short allows the sun to reach the soil and warm it, allowing your grass to grow more quickly and grow in with a healthy green color.
Once the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit over a consistent period, usually the first week of March, it’s appropriate to begin administering herbicides to stop weeds that begin to grow when the temperatures increase and start fertilizing your lawn a few weeks after. Both of these applications are essential, but they can do more harm than good if not applied properly.
If you’re applying fertilizer on your own, it’s best to use no more than a pound of a slow-release nitrogen mix (15-5-10) for every 1,000 square feet of your lawn typically wait at least one week after using herbicides. Avoid applying this fertilizer too early or too late in the season, since extreme cold or heat can cause a reaction with the fertilizer that stresses the grass. Later in the growing season especially in the hotter months, apply about every 10-12 weeks, using a slow-release (any 3-1-2 ratio) fertilizer.
These are just my recommendations from my years as a native Texan so don't treat this as the gospel. Hopefully if God is willing and the the creek (or Lake Houston) don't rise, your lawn will stay beautiful throughout the year.