Episode 1 of the Houston Grass Podcast
Today, I would like to talk about some of the topics we look at when we’re coming out of this dormancy period and starting to green up here in early spring.
Hi, I’m Michael Romine, and this is the Houston Grass Podcast. Today I’m looking outside, and everything is brown and dead looking. It’s mid-February, but before we know it, we’re going to be greening up and warming up. And everybody’s going to be thinking about getting back in their yard for springtime and sprucing things up.
When Does Your Grass Turn Green
People often ask us if our grass is green this time of year. Or they may ask us when is it going to green up? And the answer is the grass has grown outside in a wide-open field. It’s not produced in a greenhouse or something like that.
So our grass looks like everything else out in mother nature right now. It’s still very, very brown. If you see a truckload of grass going down the road right now, it looks more like a truckload of hay these days. Something to note, though, is that this grass is just fine. What you’re buying right now is a root system. That grass root system is plenty healthy underneath all that brown and is just waiting for some warm weather to green up.
So the only kind of grass you’re going to find that will be green this time of year is going to have been spray painted. Some farms do that. We’ve even tried it and just have not had much luck with it.
So, we just let Mother Nature take her course. Here in the Houston area, you’ll usually start to see lots and lots of new growth in mid-March. When we get days consistently above 75 degrees, you’ll see the fresh sprigs of green pop up out of the brown grass. As you mow it off, you’ll be left with prime green grass.
Planting Grass in the Springtime
The whole secret to planting grass this time of year is just like planting grass any other time of year. You lay the pieces of grass out on the freshly prepared bare dirt. Lay it out like tile with the pieces real tight together. Leave no seams between the grass pieces and then water it really well.
The beauty of planting grass this time of year is it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of water to give your grass a good start. You still have to water a whole lot that the first day after planting, but you don’t have to water a lot after that until the grass starts growing.
If this was July, you need to water for multiple hours for a couple of weeks after laying your grass. At this time of year, you do that one big upfront watering, and then you really can lay off of it, with just a little water every few days or so until the grass starts growing again.
Cutting Your Grass for the First Time in the Springtime
If you have an established lawn, it is an excellent time to cut your grass short. What I like to do and what they do at the farm is to cut the grass off short and cut all that dead material off. You only do this once you’re relatively sure we are past the last frost. You don’t want to do this before a frost because then you’ve got a lot of newly exposed fresh grass exposed to that frost, and it can damage it.
So I would wait till late February at the very least to cut the grass off real short and bag all those clippings. I don’t usually recommend that you bag your clippings any other time of year because those clippings can be a good source of nitrogen. But this time of year, I like to go in, cut the grass off real short, and then bag all those clippings. I rake all the clippings up and get all that dead material out of there. And then let, let Mother Nature take its course.
Fertilize to Give Your Grass a Great Start
This time of year is an excellent time to start thinking about fertilizer. We sell all the Nitro-Phos products. The Nitro-Phos Imperial is a fantastic straight fertilizer, 15-5-10. If you don’t have problems with weeds, it’s good to put out. Again I recommend that you wait until after that last frost. So, I like to wait till late February or early March before I put out the first fertilizer application.
If you do have some weeds to contend with, perhaps some clover and other weeds, you can use Nitro-Phos fertilizer impregnated with either the Trimec or the Atrazine. These weed and feeds are in either the purple or the turquoise bag. With the Nitro-Phos weed and feeds, you can get rid of the weeds and give the grass a good kickstart for the spring.
As I mentioned a little earlier, you don’t have to water as much when the temperatures are a little more moderate. The next three or four months is a fantastic time of year to plant grass. We sell grass year-round, and there’s nothing wrong with planting grass year-round. You need to realize that the grass may be dormant during the cooler months of the year. And when the grass is brown like that, there is nothing wrong with it. You don’t have to water as much. The only thing to remember is that you need to keep the heavy traffic off of your new grass until it takes root and starts growing.
If foot traffic wears down the little bit of material that’s on top right now, there won’t be anything to come out in the springtime. So that’s the only thing to keep in mind when you’re planting grass when it’s close to dormant stages or full dormant like it is right now. It’ll green back up in them, in the spring, just like everything else will. So that’s something to keep in mind as well.
Now Is the Time for Pre-Emergence Weed Control
Another thing I would suggest doing this time of year is putting out pre-emergence weed control. I recommend the Nitro-Phos Barricade Preemergent weed control product that we sell. The first application of Barricade is usually mid-February to late February, right before all those weeds start poking out.
The Nitro-Phos Barricade creates a barrier that keeps the weeds out of your lawn. It does an outstanding job at that. I recommend two more applications during the year — one in late spring and another in the fall.
Watch Out for Brown Patch
Another thing to be on the lookout for this time of year is brown patch. It’s one of those transition times of the year, meaning the temperature is transitioning from colder to warmer. We have those warm days and the cool nights for the next six or eight weeks. So just like fall, when we start to transition from the warmer to the colder temperatures, you begin to see the yellow circles pop up in your yard, especially in the lower-lying areas that may stay wet a little longer. That’s brown patch. You can identify it by the distinctive yellow circles, the bright yellow edges, and the brown centers.
If you see brown patch in your lawn, you might want to treat it with some Heritage G fungicide. It’s not as big of a deal in the spring as in the fall. Unless it gets out of hand, the warmer temperatures will cure this fungus. The warmer temperatures put the brakes on brown patch naturally.
However, if those circles get big, it scars the grass, and it takes longer to grow out and repair. So if I see some little yellow circles starting, usually in the lower-lying areas of your yard, I would go ahead and treat with some Heritage G. It’s a good idea to get a handle on that.
Heritage G is a granular fungicide that we carry at Houston Grass. It’s the best fungicide that we have found. It does an excellent job with many things: brown patch in the fall and spring, summer patch in the summer, and gray leaf spot in the summertime when it gets really hot and humid. So Heritage G is a good thing to keep in your arsenal.
Grass Prices Are Going Up Like Everything Else
This is early spring of 2022, and just like the rest of the world, we’re looking at some price increases coming from our supplier, which happens to be my family’s farm. So I’ve got some firsthand knowledge of some of the issues they’re facing. One of those issues is a price increase that we will have to pass on to our customers.
The primary culprit is the increase in fertilizer costs. Fertilizer has almost tripled from a year and a half ago. There are a lot of different reasons that I hear about that. But, in particular, our farm uses a whole lot of fertilizer. That’s one of the many inputs that we spend the extra money on that our competition does not spend the money on. It’s the reason that our grass is so much thicker and greener and healthier than a lot of the other grass that’s out there. And it’s one of the reasons people love our grass so much. We’re fertilizing more frequently than most.
Other inputs are going up as well. Our farm was also expecting a small percentage increase in labor, and it ended up going up quite a bit more than they thought it was going to.
The wooden pallets that you see everywhere are more expensive. Those pallets that they used to get for a couple of dollars now cost close to $10.
And we have a lot of tractors and equipment to maintain all this grass, mow all of this grass and harvest all of this grass, and all of those tractors burn diesel. If you filled your car up lately, you know what fuel prices have done.
Then there are the 18 wheelers that bring us the grass. Their price has gone up as well. The money we pay them to get our grass from the farm to Houston is going up because diesel prices have gone up.
Those are some of the many reasons behind the price increases coming our way. If you check our website, we keep our pricing sheet updated. So for up-to-date pricing information, you can certainly look on there.
Changes in Our Operating Hours
As spring gets going, another thing to keep in mind is that our operating hours will change this time of year. Right now, we are open Monday through Thursday, eight to five, and then on Fridays, we close early at four, and we’re closed on Saturdays.
But in March, our hours will transition from Monday through Friday, eight to five, and Saturdays, we will be open from eight to noon, or until we sell out a grass. If 2022 is anything like the last couple of years, we usually sell out of grass pretty quickly on Saturdays. That’s because we can’t get quite as much as we’d like to have. So, that’s something to keep in mind about Saturdays. We had to go on a first-come, first-served basis last year. We’ll see if that becomes the case this year or if we’ll be able to do pre-orders this year. We won’t know that till we get up and going.
Call Us at 281-431-7441 for Quick Answers and Quotes
Another thing that changes with spring is the best way to contact us. One of the ways that you can reach us is to call us at 281-431-7441. We also have a contact form on our website that you can fill out.
We usually get back to you quickly if you’ve got questions about grass or need a quote or something like that. However, starting in the springtime, we get delayed in responding to that website contact form. There are only three of us that work here. We usually get so busy that we don’t have time to answer that form for a few days. So the website requests can get backed up.
So, if you’re in a hurry to get a hold of us, it’s best to give us a call at 281-431-7441. We’ve got a couple of phone lines. If we don’t answer your phone call, please leave us a message. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We’re a small operation, and we do the best we can to serve as many folks as fast as we can. We think we do a pretty good job at it.
We’re looking forward to another spring and things warming up and greening up. If you’ve got any questions about grass or need some fertilizer, call us at 281-431-7441.
Whether you need a few pieces of grass or put in a new swimming pool and need to replace your whole backyard, please feel free to call us. We’ll do our best to answer any questions that you might have.