Advice on Lawn Care in Texas

Overview

Texas is prone to long warm seasons, drought in the summers and relatively short winters. While this means more time to enjoy a growing lawn, it also means a longer maintenance season. Many maintenance issues can be avoided or reduced by watering wisely, fertilizing sparingly and avoiding overzealous mowing or chemical pest control.

Prevention

In many areas of the state, low yearly rainfall, coupled with prolonged heat waves and low humidity, mean high maintenance for many species of turfgrass. But there are a few varieties with drought and pest tolerance, such as zoysia and buffalo grass, that are better suited to Texas weather than other varieties. Plant sod or seed on well-composted soil to reduce maintenance later. Avoid mowing grass lower than the variety can tolerate. St. Augustine, for example, shouldn't be mowed lower than 3 1/2 inches.

Watering

Even with the most water-demanding varieties of grass during the hottest times of year, lawns should not be watered with more than an inch of water, once per week. Only grass planted on sand will need to be watered more often during the summer. Infrequent, deep watering encourages grass roots to grow deeper and reduces the risk of fungal lawn diseases. During cool and cold months, water less frequently. Don't water when grass is dormant.

Fertilization

Overfertilizing lawns causes salt buildup, leaf burn, local water quality problems and encourages the growth of lawn fungus. Healthy lawns need less fertilizer, so try boosting your lawn with 1/4 inch of well-rotted compost in spring and fall. Test your soil before adding chemical fertilizer, and switch to organic fertilizer when possible. The time to fertilize in Texas varies from early to mid spring, and repeat applications are rarely necessary. The Texas AgriLife Extension recommends a light application of 1/2 lb. nitrogen per 1,000 square feet if necessary in the spring.

Pest Control

Insect pests start popping up in spring and get more intense through hot summers. Using broad-spectrum insecticides, however, kills the predatory insects that could be doing the work for you. Try switching to beneficial nematodes for insects such as grubworms, and only apply insecticides as a last resort. Healthy lawns are less susceptible to insect infestations. Avoid lawn diseases by fertilizing and watering only when necessary, and in the morning instead of evening.

Weeds

Long, hot summers and frequent droughts in Texas leave many lawns susceptible to weeds. Mow or pull out weeds before they go to seed to keep them from spreading. Even herbicides that are safe to use on grass may weaken the lawn and harm beneficial insects. When possible, apply herbicides to a cloth and wipe them on the weeds instead of spraying directly on the weed. For large areas with all weeds and no grass, remove weeds and plant sod plugs to establish grass in that area.

Keywords: Texas lawn care, turfgrass care, southern states lawns

About this Author

Samantha Belyeu has been writing professionally since 2003. She began as a writer and publisher for the Natural Toxins Research Center, and has spent her time since as a landscape designer and part-time writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.