By Bob Dailey
It’s been a long, wet, relatively cold winter in The Woodlands, with three snowfalls. Now, our yards are greening up, flowers are blooming, insects are buzzing and we are all attacked by the same debilitating disorder – spring fever.
As we walk out shoeless on our lawns, blades of St. Augustine tickling our toes, we might want to consider some chores which can extend the life of our lawn and add to its emerald presence.
- St. Augustine grass prefers a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. This acidic range allows grass roots to extract phosphorus from the soil. Having your soil tested is a great way to know the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. You can pick up a soil test bag and form at the County Extension Service in
Conroe or at the Woodlands Water office in The Woodlands. If your soil is too acidic, you can add lime. If the soil is too alkaline, you can add soil sulfur to make it sweeter.
- Compost and aerating. Any time of the year is okay, but mid-April is the optimum time. Spread about ½ inch of compost across your entire lawn. If you’d like, you can water it down with a hose, but that’s not necessary. Aerating allows the compost to enter deeper into the soil.
- Resodding. Late April and early May are the best times to resod warm season grass.
- Fertilize your lawn in late April. Try to use a slow release organic fertilizer.
- Begin mowing as soon as your grass needs it. However, remember that any plant needs its green leaves to photosynthesize sunlight. Cutting it too short will weaken turf grass plants. Instead, set your mower to the highest height or make sure you cut only a third of the blade.
- Warm season grasses (St. Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda) need an inch or less of water per week to have a healthy root system. More than that is damaging to the plant. Since the Defined Irrigation Schedule is in effect for all MUDs within the Woodlands Water service area, you could set your controller to put ½ inch on your lawn for each of the two days you can water.
- Add a rain sensor to your irrigation controller. If it rains, the rain sensor will communicate with your controller and adjust the amount of irrigation. (Woodlands Water offers 50% rebates up to $150 for purchase and installation costs).
- Install a smart controller. Smart controllers take in information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and area et stations and readjust your system to match the weather.
- Use the cycle and soak method. If it takes 20 minutes to put ½ inch of water on your lawn, much of that water will be wasted. Instead, run each zone twice for 10 minutes, or even three times for about 7 minutes. The first run will wet the surface of the soil. The second run (and third if you choose) will allow the water to soak into the ground through capillary action.
- Enjoy your beautiful spring lawn.