In this episode of the Houston Grass Podcast, Michael talks about your lawn care and why you should finish spring fertilizing and start watering about now. Got a question? Call us at 281-431-7441.
Summary of Why You Should Finish Spring Fertilizing and Start Watering
Good afternoon everyone. I’m Michael and this is the Houston Grass Podcast. Here we are in late March and everything is greening up. It’s a kind of drier feeling day out there. We had a fresh cold front come through, which isn’t all that cold, but at least it got rid of the humidity a little bit.
But we’ve had lots of humidity start to return on lots of days and had lots of warm days. So everything is greening up and should be growing. And tis the season to get your grass right in your yard as well. We’ve got about two more months of these hopefully moderate temperatures before it gets blazing hot.
Now Is the Best Time of the Year to Plant Grass
Whenever anybody asks about the time of year that is best to plant grass — we are in the middle of it right now. March, April, and May is the time to do it. So if you’re contemplating buying grass sod, now is the best time to knock that project out for sure.
You Should Finish Spring Fertilizing Now
I want to talk about a few things here today. It’s the usual suspects fertilizer, water, and mowing. We have different requirements for different parts of the year, but I’m going to start here with fertilizer.
Right now, if you haven’t done it, you need to absolutely get in that spring fertilization. Depending on who you ask, four times a year is likely what they would say is the number of times that you need to fertilize.
But if you’re going to do less less fertilization than that, the one to not skip is spring fertilizing. It’s a really important one to get things kicked off. And so if you haven’t done it, get it done preferably sooner rather than later.
The end of April is the tail end for the application of weed and feeds in the Houston area. If you use the Nitro Phos Weed and Feed it’s got two versions, either the version with Trimec for St. Augustine, Bermuda or Zoysia grasses or the version with Atrazine for St. Augustine grass only. As it warms up, those weed and feeds can be a little tougher on your grass. So you want to get those applied while the temperatures are still moderate.
Of course we don’t endorse using a weed and feed if you don’t have weed issues. Then I would recommend just using the regular Imperial Fertilizer. It’s the the same fertilizer that’s in the weed and feeds, but it just doesn’t have the herbicides in it. That’s what I used on my yard. That’s what I use at our office. If you’re not battling weeds stick with that. Don’t put the weed and feeds out there if you don’t have a weed problem.
The Weed and Feeds Don’t Kill Every Weed Variety
We were getting phone calls from people saying they’ve put out the weed and feed, and it’s been three or four weeks, but I’ve still got this weed and that weed.
With those weed and feeds the list of weeds that they kill on the back of the bag. This list of weeds is extensive, but it’s not a catch-all. It’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to kill every weed out there. There are some of them that are just tough to get rid of, and you may have to get somebody with a chemical applicator’s license to get an herbicide out there that will treat those weeds if they’re just really tough ones.
What I would do is wait till about June before you make any of those moves. A lot of those weeds are winter weeds and they’ll die off in the heat. All you do mow them and they just disappear on their own.
Only Use a Weed and Feed Once a Year
Another thing to note about the weed and feed is that you only want to use it once a year. It is only meant to be used once. You’re not going to get any extra benefit from doing it twice.
And as a matter of fact it can be tough on the grass, it can be tough on your trees and the surrounding landscaping. Only once a year for a weed and feed for sure.
If You Miss Spring Fertilizing, Use SuperTurf
If spring fertilizing slips past you or we get real close to May you’re going to want to put out the gray bag, which is Nitro-Phos SuperTurf.
The numbers are a little bit different on it, and it’s the one that’s got the slow release nitrogen. So that as it warms up, you don’t accidentally burn your grass. Half the nitrogen fertilizer in it is the regular, and about half of it, I think, is coated in some kind of stuff that makes it slowly release over time. It slowly releases over about a 90 day period as opposed to just getting that instant burst of green from all that nitrogen .
It’s Time to Start Watering Your Grass
Another thing that I would like to jump up and down on is we are starting the year off dry. Depending on where you live in the greater Houston area, you may have gotten a rain here or there that somebody else didn’t. But we certainly do not seem to be getting the rain we usually get in the springtime. We’re getting into the time of year that the grass and your plants and whatnot are needing that one inch of water per week, We are not getting that from Mother Nature right now.
So it is time to take off your covers and take off the backflow preventers and get those irrigation systems checked out. Make sure you don’t have any geysers in your backyard.
And make sure you’re getting that two to three waterings per week. Personally, I do two half-inch waterings per week. And that is where we are now until we start getting some help from Mother Nature.
Watering in the Evening Can Promote Fungus Problems
I’d also like to talk about the timing of that watering. We’re getting a few phone calls about people mentioning they may have a fungus. They’re sending us pictures and it looks an awfully lot like gray leaf spot.
We are having some of these these warmer, humid days. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility. I don’t think it’s anything that needs to be treated chemically just yet.
But we tell people to not water in the dark. Water early in the mornings before the sun gets up high and that wind kicks up and you start losing water to evaporation. But you don’t want that grass to sit there for seven hours wet, and that’s what happens if you water in the evenings. That’s just a recipe for fungus.
Personally I water about 4:30 am or 5:00 am because I want to beat everyone getting up and trying to take a shower and using up all the water pressure. There’s that to think about as well.
We Need to Start Mowing Weekly
We also need to be mowing weekly. We are warmer. You’re gonna dump the fertilizer on it and the water, the grass is going to start growing. So you’re going to need to make sure that you’re mowing weekly. Yeah, you might be able to push it now a little bit to every 10 days.
But I just cringe every time somebody tells me that they’re mowing every other week or having their yard service do it every other week. Because once we really get this grass growing here in about a month you’re cutting off way too much leaf tissue at one time. If you’re not the mowing, but every other week, that’s just not frequently enough. The rule of thumb is never take more than one third of the leaf tissue off at a time. And if you’re doing it every two weeks, you’re definitely doing more than that. Mow weekly.
Trees Need to Be Trimmed Regularly
Get those trees trimmed. That is a rule always. You’ve got to get that sunlight on your grass. Usually once you get those oak trees to be 15 to 20 years old, you’ve got to trim those trees every year preferably. In some cases even younger trees need to be trimmed. Every other year is an absolute must.
You will start to see thinning in your yard if you’re letting those trees go over two years. And then you’re having to call us and talk about replacing grass in those areas. So keep those trees trimmed up or thinned out — whatever you can do to get that sunlight in there. That’s just an all the time thing. If you really want that grass to get kicked off in the spring, get some sunlight to it too. It is not just fertilizer and water, it’s got to have that sunlight as well.
Don’t Kill the Grub Worms
Another phone call that we seem to be getting frequently is about grub worms. This happens a lot of the year, not just right now. But people are asking us what bug killers we have because they say they have grub worms. I think there must be a lot of information out there on the internet about grub worms, and a lot of internet information must point to the poor grub worms being the culprit.
But I can tell you that grub worms are a good thing for this black gumbo soil that we have in our part of the world. Any kind of earth worms or grub worms are good for the soil in the springtime to break up that hard packed dirt. Grub worms only become a problem when there are an excessive number of them in the soil.
A few grub worms that you find in your yard, leave ’em, let ’em go, let ’em do their thing. They’re not going to hurt anything. And I’m always going to encourage people to use insecticides sparingly just because there’s a lot of good things in that dirt that these non-selective insecticides will kill.
Watering Will Prevent Chinch Bugs
Regarding chinch bugs, I do encourage you to use insecticides when the chinch bugs show up in the summer. But in that case, you don’t use the granular insecticides. You use the liquid insecticides if you start to see damage from chinch bugs. But again, we will not see that until we get in the real hot dry days of summer. That will be in June, July, and August if we’re not getting any help from Mother Nature.
Frankly, only the folks not keeping up with their watering are going to have problems with chinch bugs. If you are doing your job and putting that inch of water a week on the grass, the chinch bugs are going to leave you alone. They’re looking for that drought stressed grass.
So there is no need to pretreat for chinch bugs. That’s another thing people are asking about. A lot of people lost grass last year to chinch bugs. And so they’re calling us for pieces to replace grass, and they’re they’re asking how to keep the chinch bugs from showing back up. And the answer is watering properly. It is certainly not putting out a granular or liquid insecticide right now. You’re wasting your time and money.
Those chinch bugs are not going to show up till summertime when it gets real hot and real dry. But if you just keep up with that watering the grass will be healthier and the chinch bugs will stay away. It’s an all around better deal and less expensive for the homeowners as well.
Houston Grass Has Quality Second to None in the Houston Area
Those are the things I had to mention today. Just turn the water on. Hopefully we’re going to start getting a little rain here. Get that spring fertilizing done and things are ought to keep greening up. Hopefully we’re past our last frost and things ought to keep going.
Please give us a call at 281-431-7441 if you need to do a little patchwork or whatever you might need as grass goes. We carry the products you’ll need for spring fertilizing and the grass sod for either a new lawn or patching the one you have. Our grass comes from our family farm in Bay City where we’ve been in the grass business since 1981. Thanks for listening.