Austin Texas Lawn care tips from Just Right Lawns
The following information is provided as a service to our customers and neighbors in the Austin area of Central Texas. These tips are general in nature and following them will not guarantee your lawn will be pristine. It’s always best to call an Austin Lawn Care Company if you need professional lawn care advice.
Fertilization Tips for Austin Texas
Your lawn will need periodic applications of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in proper proportion to help keep it green and healthy. Use a complete fertilizer early in the spring (April 1) and again in the early fall (Sept. 1) with a 3-1-2 ratio, for example, 15-5-10.
In between these times, use nitrogen to keep the grass green. Generally, apply 50 lbs. of fertilizer per 5000 square feet. A periodic soil test will let you know exactly the amounts of each nutrient needed.
Caution: To prevent fertilizer grass burn, place the spreader on a light setting and go over the lawn twice, spreading 1/2 of the amount needed each time. For example, go north to south one time, and east to west the second time. Apply only to dry grass and water in thoroughly after application. On new lawns, do not use weed-killing fertilizer formulas for at least two growing seasons. This includes the formulas used by many chemical lawn companies.
Fall lawn care and fall feedings are very important. It helps protect the grass from cold.
Watering is the maintenance practice most often done incorrectly. Water your established lawn when it shows signs of need. Grass suffering from lack of water takes on a definite sheen and the plants wilt and curl. When this occurs, the lawn should be soaked completely to a depth of 6 inches. Apply water only as fast as it can be absorbed.
In general, set your lawn sprinkler system to water your grass every 2-3 days during the growing season. To minimize losses due to evaporation, early-morning watering is recommended; This will also allow the grass to dry during the day, reducing the chance of lawn disease.
During the cool Texas winter months your lawn requires occasional moisture. Rainfall in Austin is usually insufficient; make sure your lawn has water once a week.
If your lawn sprinkler system is leaking or is providing incorrect coverage, the result may be damage to your landscape’s health or to your home.
- Mow at least every 7 days during the growing season.
- Keep your mower blade sharp and well-adjusted.
- Never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade.
- To prevent disease, mow only when the grass is dry.
- Use a mulching mower or collect the clippings.
- Vary the mowing pattern each time you mow.
- For regular bermuda grass, mow when grass is 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches tall. Cut at 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches, depending on pre-cut height.
For tiff, mow when grass is 5/8 to 1 inch tall. Cut at 1/2 to 3/4 inch, depending on pre-cut height.
Insects and Yard Pests
There are various chewing and sucking insects common in the Austin Texas area that can damage your lawn. A commercial preparation of two or more insecticides such as Spectracide® can be ideal. Check with your local nursery or hardware store.
Two insects to be aware of are fall Armyworms and Grub worms
Watch for Armyworms during July, August, and September. They may appear sooner. These worms are some of the most destructive of all lawn pests. They are little green-grey caterpillar-like worms which feed on the grass blades. If you see them, treat immediately with Diazinon®. Follow manufacturers directions. They may return in a couple of weeks after treatment; if you see them again, treat again.
The White Grub worm is the larval form of the May beetle or June bug. The worms are generally one inch long and 1/4 inch thick, with white heads and light brown bodies. They feed on the tender roots and grass parts 1 to 3 inches under the soil. Treat with Diazinon around August 16th and before September 15th. Follow manufacturer’s directions.
It appears that production of these two insecticides may be being phased out. If you cannot find them, try using Sevin® granules instead.
Disease prevention is the key to a good healthy turf. If you suspect a problem, treat immediately. The following are some of the more common diseases found in bermuda grass:
Brown Patch – characterized by large circular patterns of dead grass blades in the turf. They range in size from 1-50 feet in diameter. Once treated, the turf will usually recover.
Helminthosporium Leaf Spot; Root Rot of Bermuda Grass – symptoms appear as irregular patches ranging in size from 2 to several feet in diameter. Infections of the leaves appear as small olive green spots which enlarge to form dark blotches. The entire plant is killed when the root rot phase develops.
Dollar Spot – symptoms are similar to brown patch except that the areas infected are smaller, about the size of a silver dollar or slightly larger.
Chlorothalonil (chemical name), or Daconil 2787 (trade name) will effectively treat these diseases. Follow manufacturer’s directions.
Cultivation and Mowing
Cultivation includes aeration, topdressing and vertical mowing.
Aeration is the most effective method of alleviating surface compaction. It increases the movement of air and water into the soil and promotes deeper, more extensive rooting of turf grass. Lawns that receive little traffic may not require aeration to maintain good turf. Use a spoon-type aerator that extracts soil cores 2-3 inches deep and 1/2 – 3/4 inch in diameter. Shred cores with a mower.
Vertical mowing (de-thatching) helps increase turf density and keeps the lawn healthy by removing dead vegetation from the thatch layer. Early spring is the best time to cut. Usually once every 2 seasons is adequate. Remove all cuttings.
Lawn maintenance information was derived from literature produced by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.