It’s early May and getting your lawn ready for summer happens now in the Houston area. In this episode of the Houston Grass Podcast, Michael covers the things you should think about as we prepare for the heat and humidity ahead.
Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer in the Houston Area – Houston Grass Podcast Episode 3
Good morning. This is Michael with Houston Grass with the Houston Grass Podcast. Here we are in early May, and I want to go over a few things that we should all be paying attention to now as the temperature is going up, and it seems like overall, the rainfall is going down. I want to touch a little bit on some fertilization and mowing and maybe some fungicide thoughts.
Fertilize Now to Get Your Lawn Ready for Summer
So the first thing I’d like to discuss here is Superturf, the Nitro Phos Superturf fertilizer. Now through about the end of May is probably the ideal time to put down the Nitro Phos Superturf, the 19-4-10 that’s got the slow-release nitrogen and the normal quick-release nitrogen. You benefit from the quick green-up, but you also get 90-day slow-release fertilization.
And that’s great because, with the heat of the summer, it can be tough on your grass. If you’re not real careful with what you’re doing in the summertime, you can burn your grass up. I don’t recommend putting out fertilizer in the heat of summer because you can get in trouble pretty quickly.
You’d probably be fine if you pay attention to what you’re doing and water it in, but the Superturf is a good solution since you get a 90-day release to get you through the better part of the summer. And then you’re ready for the Fall Special Fertilizer in late September and October. So that’d be the first thing I’d recommend, getting on that Superturf.
Start Watching for Gray Leaf Spot in Your Lawn
There’s another thing that I would recommend as we kind of heat up and humid up which we know is just around the corner. Getting your lawn ready for summer means you should start looking for that gray leaf spot, especially in high traffic areas and shady areas. If you have the combination of high traffic and shade, definitely start looking out for that gray leaf spot.
It starts as the little brown dots on a blade of grass, and it quickly spreads to the whole blade, and the blade kind of disappears. You can do a couple of things like pulling the water off of those areas. That will help dry up those areas.
And as soon as you see signs of gray leaf spot, we recommend treating it with some Heritage G. We sell it in a 10-pound bag and a 30-pound bag, and you can get it online. We want to make sure that you get that Heritage G out there because the gray leaf spot can get out of hand in a hurry.
The Lowe’s and Home Depot’s do not carry Heritage G. You’ll find it at Mom and Pop feed stores or specialty chemical stores and stuff like that. But we do have it, and we can tell you how to identify gray leaf spot. So definitely be on the lookout for that with established grass.
Prevent Gray Leaf Spot When Installing Palmetto St. Augustine Grass
On a related topic, if you install Palmetto St. Augustine from now through about mid-September, you need to look for a gray leaf spot. Our tip sheet tells you that you have to put a lot of water on the grass to get it established when you plant new grass.
The problem with that is that you’ve installed this grass that’s got a lot of nitrogen fertilizer in it from the farm. That’s how we get it as thick and pretty and lush and green as possible. But then it’s installed and put under trees where it never really gets to dry out. The grass is not getting as much direct sun as it had in the wide-open field. Then it gets a lot of water on it right after installation. Those are the ingredients it takes to kick gray leaf spot off, and it can get out of control pretty quick.
So I would say from now through September, if you are going to install Palmetto grass in the shade, I would follow it up immediately with a treatment of Heritage G. And if you’re using Heritage G, the label says to do another treatment 14 to 21 days after the first.
The label on the bag will tell you how much to put out. It doesn’t take very much. But if you can follow that Palmetto St. Augustine grass installation with an immediate application of Heritage G and then another application two to three weeks later, your chances of success are a lot higher. And after that, you might even have to put out one more treatment through the summer as we stay hot and humid. Especially if it gets rainy. So please be aware of that.
Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer Includes Watching for Chinch Bugs
Speaking of rain, it seems like we are not getting a whole lot right now. The word drought is getting thrown around more and more. Some of Houston got good rain last week. An inch to two inches was pretty widespread close to Houston, but they didn’t get much of anything south of here.
As it gets hotter and drier, you need to be paying attention to watering your grass. Your grass is not getting enough water if it is not getting an inch of water a week from rain or out of an irrigation system or a water hose.
Once we get hot and dry here, you will have to be on the lookout for chinch bugs. Chinch bugs look for that drought-stressed grass. That’s where they’re going first. If you start seeing hotspots in your yard, they might not really be hotspots. They might be the start of chinch bugs. So you need to pay close attention to those irrigation systems. Get that one inch of water out there no matter how you do it.
Ideally, you’re doing two water applications each week, whether with an irrigation system or a water hose and a sprinkler. If you do two one-half-inch waterings per week, that’s ideal. It would be best if you stuck a rain gauge out there to determine how much water you’re putting out.
With an irrigation system, it usually ranges from about 15 to 25 minutes per zone, twice a week. If you’ve got some tight soil that’s not taking the water up well or just some wide-open space, you might even have to bump it to three times a week. More short waterings will help keep that grass healthy and lush and keep those chinch bugs at bay.
If you do see some chinch bugs pop up, you need to increase your watering, and you probably need to put out something like the Cyonara or some other liquid insecticide. And it would be best if you did a couple of applications to kill the chinch bugs and run them out of there.
Summer Heat Means Increase Your Mowing Height
With Houston’s summer heat, no matter what kind of grass you have, you need to be bumping that mowing height up by an inch to an inch and a half to increase that canopy of grass. That will help retain moisture in the soil and not stress that grass out as can happen when you’re cutting it low. You may get away with it for another few more weeks, but by June for sure, we need to get that mowing height increased and help hold on to some of that moisture.
Watch for Sod Webworms in Your Summer Lawn
I’ll touch briefly on sod webworms here too. We’re not to the season yet. The sod webworm season is different from year to year, but sod webworms could also be right around the corner. We didn’t have a whole lot of winter this year. No long extended freezes killed the sod webworms bedded down in the thatch layer of grass.
If you start to see walk out in your grass in the mornings and see little brown moths flying up, that’s the telltale sign. Or if you walk out there in the mornings and see the dew on the grass, you’ll see spider webs. That’s where they get the name “sod webworms”.
These little green worms come up at night and eat your grass. It looks like somebody took a weed eater to your grass. At first, there’s damage in small places, and then the areas get bigger. The easiest way to identify them is to see tan-colored moths fly up as you walk out across your grass.
If you see those moths or their webs, it means you’ve been taking care of your grass. They look for the healthiest, greenest grass they can find. But you need to get something like the Cyonara or some other liquid insecticide that lists sod webworms on the label. And you’re going to need to do two to three treatments because you have to break that egg cycle.
When you spray it out on your lawn, the chemical gets on the egg. It doesn’t kill them right away. They’ve got to be in the little worm stage to kill them. So start being on the lookout. We’re a little early in early May, but start looking out for the sod webworms because they can eat you out of house and home quickly, especially on new grass that you’re trying to get established. That’s something to certainly pay attention to.
So those are things that come to mind. Right now. We’ll do another update as as topics come up or as this season changes. We’ll keep a heads up. Thank you for listening.
May Is Still a Great Time to Install Grass in the Houston Area
Getting your lawn ready for summer might include installing grass to replace areas of your lawn, accommodate a new pool or install grass for new construction. Houston Grass delivers grass sod with quality second to none in the Houston area. Our grass is grown on our family farm in Bay City and our family has been in the grass business there since 1981. Call us at 281-431-7441 for a quick quote or answers to your questions.
Download Our Tip Sheets
We have tip sheets for newly installed grass and established grass, and you can download them by clicking these buttons.