Why Now Is the Best Time to Install Grass – Houston Grass Podcast Episode 2
Hi, this is Michael with the Houston Grass Podcast. We’re in mid-March and now is the best time to install grass. And so things are starting to green up, and people want to get out in their yards. So we want to talk about some of the things regarding the beginning of spring and measuring to prepare to plant new grass and other topics.
How Inflation Affects Grass Prices
One of the questions on everybody’s mind right now is price increases. There are many reasons for all the price increases that many industries are experiencing right now. One of the most significant factors in our industry is probably fertilizer prices. Fertilizer prices have approximately tripled from a year ago.
That makes the fertilizer you buy from us by the 40-pound bag, that Nitro-Phos fertilizer, more expensive. It has increased in price significantly from this time last year as well. So that price has gone up, but our grass prices have gone up quite a bit from last year because fertilizer is a major input for growing grass.
There are a lot of farms out there that just let the grass come back naturally after they cut it. Those farms don’t push it with the fertilizer and try to make the grass as strong of a plant as it can be.
On the other hand, our farm fertilizes about every six weeks to make that grass as green and healthy as it possibly can be. But if one of your inputs triples in price from one year to the next, obviously, that will dramatically affect your cost inputs. It has, and so the farm has passed that expense along to us, and we, in turn, have to have to pass down our increased cost to the consumer here.
Not to mention all the events in Ukraine and the effects that that has had on diesel fuel which is a significant cost at the farm. All those tractors are running off diesel, and the 18 wheelers that bring the grass to us are also running off diesel. And those prices are are today anywhere from about $4.75 to $5 a gallon. So that has also affected our our our pricing. So there are a few factors kind of stacked against pricing these days. We’re like the rest of the world, and since the different inputs that go into our product have gone up, the product’s price goes up.
What’s the Best Time of the Year to Plant Grass
People call us year-round and ask when’s the best time to install grass. We sell grass year-round. The best time is probably spring — March, April, and May. My next pick will be fall — September, October, November, even December here in the Houston area. It’s warm enough a lot of the time in December for the grass to be growing.
My last pick will always be the dead middle of summer. That’s a tough time to get grass to grow. You might expect a rather large water bill to go along with planting grass in the summer. So spring is definitely the best time. It’s also our biggest sales time because everybody wants to get their yard pretty for the year.
Which Grass Variety Is Best for My Lawn
So one of the things that you want to consider if you’re considering a project is grass variety. And that grass variety is first and foremost dictated by the conditions you’re going to try to grow your grass in. I’d say the biggest factor there is sunlight. How much sunlight are you getting in different areas of your lawn? Are you getting four to five hours, at least four to five hours of direct sunlight?
By direct sunlight, I don’t mean a little spot here and a little spot there shining through the leaves. I mean direct sunlight covering a large area. If you get four to five hours of direct sunlight, you’ve got some options like the fine-bladed Zoysias — the Emerald or the Cavalier. Or perhaps you could use the Palmetto St. Augustine.
If you’re getting a lot more than that, say the six to seven hours of direct sunlight per day that opens up a lot of things. You can use the regular Raleigh St. Augustine, which is our biggest seller, or you can use the Palisades Zoysia.
Or you could use any of the other grasses. You can also use the Palmetto or the fine-bladed Zoysias in the sunny areas. It doesn’t make much sense to spend the extra money on Palmetto. I wouldn’t do that if you have six to seven hours of direct sunlight. But if you just like the look of the fine-bladed Zoysias, you could do that as well. So that those are kind of minimums for sunlight for each variety of grass.
What’s the Minimum Amount of Sunlight for Growing Grass
However, there’s always a however, if you get less than four hours of direct sunlight, you have to do something to change that. That could be thinning trees aggressively or getting rid of trees, or whatever.
Perhaps it’s a structure problem. Say your lawn area is between two houses, or it’s really close to a tall fence or something like that. Maybe you simply cannot buy at least four hours of direct sunlight in an area.
If that’s your situation, do not put grass there. To my knowledge, there is no grass that can grow in less than in less light than that. Maybe winter rye would grow. That is a seed that you can sprinkle out on the ground for the winter, but it dies by the time May comes around because the heat kills it. So it’s not a year-round thing. It’s just a seed you can sprinkle out there.
So in this South Texas Gulf Coast area, there is no grass that can survive with less than that four hours of sunlight. You need to find a different alternative, whether it’s a weed mat and rocks, shade-loving ground cover, or even artificial turf. So sunlight is very important.
How to Measure to Estimate the Amount of Grass I Need
Another question that we get is about measuring for the grass. Obviously, you want to assess the sunlight if you’re starting a project. But you also need to know how much grass you need.
If you are looking for installation, and you’re within a fair distance from our office in Arcola, we have a couple of contractors that work with us, and all they do is install our grass. And they are fantastic at what they do. And if you’re interested in hiring them to do a turnkey installation for you, you can call us and give us your information. We have them call you and schedule a time to come out and measure and tell you exactly what you need and provide their assessment of what it will take to get the ground prepped for grass.
If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person and want to take on the project yourself, you’ll start by measuring your project area. Basically, the first thing you got to do is get your square footage. To get that to you measure the length times width and get that total square footage and divide by 450. Obviously, the way to be more exact about it is to have a long measuring tape or something like that. But I can tell you that we measure yards by stepping off the distances. Most folks take an average good-sized step of about three feet. So it’s pretty quick to step off an area and get that length times the width to calculate square footage. Divide that amount by 450 to calculate how many pallets you need. There are 450 square feet in the pallet.
And of course, once you have that square footage, you can call us, and we can help you determine the pieces of grass you need if you don’t need a full pallet. Or if you would like an opinion on what type of grass to get or something like that, we’re always happy to talk you through that.
There are only a couple of people that work here at Houston Grass. So we don’t go out and look at yards or anything like that. There are just not enough folks around to go do that. We will ask people to send us pictures to our email or something like that. So we can take a look and just give our opinion on what may need to be done.
Or the shadiness though, I can’t jump up and down about that enough. The shade is really vital. If people are having problems with their grass, that is the first thing we will ask about.
If you’re not calling us because you moved into a new house and need to install new grass, we will ask you about shade. And if you say I’m having problems with grass, the first thing we’re going to ask you is how much shade you have. Because nine times out of 10, people lose grass because they don’t have enough sunlight in an area. Perhaps the trees have gotten too big over time and haven’t been trimmed adequately. That is often what’s happened.
How to Measure Hours of Sunlight in Your Yard
Here’s one good way to measure the hours of sunlight you get in different parts of your yard. On a sunny day when you’re home, you go outside every hour and take a picture of the areas you’re interested in. Then you scroll through those photos at the end of the day and watch how the sunlight moves across your lawn. You’ll be able to estimate how many hours of sunlight you get. If you have a security camera covering the area and recording throughout the day, it is really easy to watch that sunlight move across your yard.
But we can’t make that call over the phone. We have to put that task on the homeowner or whoever is buying the grass from us to estimate the sunlight. Unless you actually take that picture every hour on the hour, you can’t really make that call. Showing up at your home one time during the day or looking at one picture doesn’t give us the information needed to make an estimate.
Can I Combine Grass Varieties to Cover Sunny and Shady Areas?
Many folks don’t have a consistent amount of sunlight across an area. Somebody might have a couple of oak trees over on one side and then virtually no shade issues on another side of their front yard or wherever the area may be. We get questions about whether you can use Palmetto or some of the fine-bladed Zoysias in the full sun areas. And the answer is absolutely.
The Palmetto St. Augustine gives you some flexibility. You don’t have to necessarily replace the entire yard if you’re only having trouble with shade in one section of the yard. Palmetto looks almost identical to the regular Raleigh St. Augustine, and people do mix them. You can mix them side by side.
You may see a little bit of a difference as they go in and out of dormancy when one variety goes into dormancy a little faster than the other. But for the most part, they will look very, very similar.
So you could do Palmetto across the entire yard to get it really consistent in color and everything immediately. Or if you got a sunnier area, you could put the Raleigh St Augustine out there, and in the shadier areas, you could put the Palmetto.
The fine-bladed Zoysias are much different looking than all these other grasses. So if you’re going to do an area with either Cavalier or Emerald Zoysia, you have to do the entire area. You won’t be happy trying to combine the fine-bladed Zoysias with a different type of grass, like Bermuda grass or St Augustine.
If you like the look of the fine-bladed Zoysia grasses, you’ve got to get that old material out of there and replace it all with the new type. So that’s something to something to consider when you’re when you’re thinking about that.
Another thing with the fine-bladed Zoysias is we do not sell them by the piece ever. So if you have an issue, it’s hard to get replacement pieces to fix a small area of your grass.
Whereas we sell Raleigh St. Augustine by the piece every day of the year. And you can, you can come patch with that. And during certain times of the year, especially the spring, we try to keep some Palmetto St. Augustine at our office to sell by the piece. We really only do it in our peak times of the year. We don’t sell Palmetto St. Augustine by the piece the rest of the year because we don’t sell it fast enough. If the grass sits on the pallet too long, it goes bad. So we only do it when we’re really busy in the springtime.
So we just don’t sell pieces of Zoysia because the demand is not there. If somebody needed just 20 pieces of Zoysia to fix their yard, the other 145 pieces on the pallet would go bad before we got to sell them, more than likely. So that is just something to keep in mind.
When Will the Grass Green Up?
This time of year, people start asking if the grass is greening up yet. When they call, that’s one of their first questions. When people visit our office, they immediately go over to the pallets and look at the grass. And a lot of times, they can’t get over how brown the grass is. How can this be the best time to install grass when the grass is partially brown?
There is a difference between grass growing in a neighborhood and a farm. You look at your yard in February, and you say I really need to go get some grass to replace that bare spot over there. And you’re looking at your yard, and you figure the grass you’re going to get ought to be at least as green as what’s left in your yard.
But where it’s grown determines when the grass greens up. You don’t realize how much protection grass in the neighborhood has because of the fences and trees and the houses’ heat. In neighborhoods, that affects how much green is actually in the grass. The grass we’re growing is out in wide-open fields with no protection from frost or wind, so it stays brown a little longer.
We’re mid-March right now, and I have seen a ton of color showing up just in the grass around my house. The grass around my office has greened up quite a bit. The pallets of grass we’re receiving from the farm every day are getting a little greener now.
Here we are on March 16. But last weekend, the farm had another hard frost on Saturday night, which browned everything off a little bit, especially the Bermuda grasses. The Bermuda grasses are particularly susceptible. They’re the first ones to brown off from a frost. But they’re also the first to green up once it warmed up. So it’s just Mother Nature. And we have to deal with whatever she gives us here.
I was at Home Depot the other day and noticed that they’re starting to sell grass, and they’re painting the grass. You can see it. I was wondering how that grass got that green. But if you go over and look closely, you can see the grass is painted, and some places do that.
We’ve never painted the grass. We deal with what Mother Nature gives us. Usually, we’ve greened up pretty good by mid to late March. The grass we’re getting from the farm will be 100% green by early April. We’ll have fertilized the entire farm by then. And the fertilizer will have been watered in several times, so the grass will start glowing green by then.
So we’re just dealing with what Mother Nature gives us and getting a little bit greener every day. That’s just something to keep in mind the earlier in the season you’re getting grass, the browner it will be. That’s just a fact here in south Texas.
These were just a few of the things that come to mind as far as planting grass in the springtime. But again, this is the best time to install grass. Temperatures are moderate. That helps immensely with the water. And the grass is just really in high gear as far as growing and putting down those roots. And so it is definitely the time to get out there and tackle those ugly brown spots or dead spots in the yard. Or for new installs, this is the season. Thank you very much for listening.
Get Quality Second to None in the Houston Area
This is the best time to install grass but no time is a good time to install poor quality grass. You probably won’t buy grass many times in your life so it makes good sense to buy the quality that will keep your yard looking great for many years to come. Call us at 281-431-7441 for a quote for your project and answers to your questions.