They are always there, just waiting for the perfect time to spring up! I'm talking about those unsightly leafy green shoots that pop up when you least expect it in your beautiful lawn! Weeds! Nobody likes them and we spend half the summer trying to rid our yard and lawn of them. In this article we will discover ways to keep weeds from growing as well as ways to kill them out.
Preventing weeds in the first place
Although you try so hard, weeds are bound to pop up in your lawn. Basically the definition of a weed in your lawn, is anything that you didn't intend on growing and thriving. But, not all 'weeds' are bad. Some are just okay.
The most effective preventative to having no weeds in your lawn or yard is to make sure you keep the soil and the grass happy and healthy. You do this with proper fertilizing, watering and mowing. Learning about your grasses that are currently growing in your lawn makes it much easier to give it the proper care it needs to prevent weeds. I've listed a few of the more common lawn grasses that grow well here in East Texas below-
Bermuda Grass - grows well in nearly all soil types and resists drought well. Bermuda grass ranges from very fine to coarse leaf texture, and it has a low, dense growth habit. It spreads both above ground (stolons) and below ground (rhizomes), which makes it very aggressive and able to wear well and compete successfully with most weed species. The only downside to growing bermuda is that it might spread into your flower beds.
Begin routine mowing as soon as the grass begins to turn green in the spring. Set the mowing height at 1 to 2 inches for Common bermuda grass and 1 to 1 1/2 inches for hybrid varieties.
To keep your lawn healthy, water it only when the grass needs it. When you do water, wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Don’t water again until the grass shows symptoms of drought stress—a dull bluish color, rolled or folded leaves, and persistent footprints. This usually occurs in 5 to 10 days, depending on the weather. When we have very hot, dry weather you will need to water more. And easy way to tell how much you are actually watering your lawn is to place a coffee can on the lawn and turn on your sprinkler for about 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, check the can to see how full it is. This is a simple way to tell if you are watering enough.
St. Augustine Grass - is a popular warm-season turf grass for home lawns. St. Augustinegrass is medium to dark green and coarse textured, and it has a low, dense growth habit. It grows well in nearly all soil types and tolerates shade, heat, salt and, to some degree, drought. It does not tolerate extended periods of cold weather. St. Augustine grass is an aggressive species that spreads rapidly by above-ground growth structures called stolons. If managed properly, St. Augustine grass forms a dense cover that handles light traffic and competes well with most weeds. St. Augustine grass is the most shade tolerant warm-season turf grass.
Usually with St. Augustine, you'll purchase it at a garden store and it will come in 'sod patches'. usually they are about 12" x 12" and you will place them in your lawn about 12" apart in a checker board pattern. As the grass grows, it will intertwine itself with each patch effectively covering the area.
Like with Bermuda Grass, you'll want to begin a routine mowing program as soon as the grass begins to turn green in the spring. Remove no more than one-third of the leaf area with any one mowing. Set the mowing height at 2 1/2 to 3 inches (3 to 3 1/2 inches in shady spots).
With St. Augustine grass, its also advisable to water when the grass needs it. St. Augustine does not like to be waterlogged so keep and eye on how much water you give it.
Centipede Grass - is a coarse-textured perennial grass that spreads by stolons. The stolons have a creeping growth habit with rather short upright stems that resemble a centipede -- thus, the name centipedegrass. Centipedegrass produces seed and is readily propagated by seed. It has a yellow green color and is particularly sensitive to iron deficiency. Centipedegrass forms a dense turf and has a relatively slow rate of growth. It requires less mowing than bermuda or St. Augustine grasses and is often called lazy man's grass. Centipedegrass remains green throughout the year in mild climates, but leaves and young stolons are killed during hard freezes. It does not have a true dormant state and resumes growth whenever temperatures are favorable.
Centipede is an "Acid" loving plant just like Pine Trees and Azaleas. If the soil is alkaline, it could kill the plant. Centipede thrives with a pH level of 4.5 to 5.5. As a mature grass, centipede does not like strong, quick fertilizers. I recommend a time released product like “19-5-9“. Avoid weed and feed type fertilizers as they can injure immature grass. At maturity, centipede gets thick enough to keep weeds at bay. It doesn't require or like lots of water. Once your centipede lawn is fully grown and established, once a week, a good soaker is all it requires, and you can use the coffee can method described above to judge your water application.
Grasses for the cooler time of year
Rye Grass - Perennial and annual rye grasses are both suitable for temporary use in lawns in East Texas. It can be over seeded into bermuda grass lawns in late September and into October to provide winter green color. Rye Grass is also good for planting on bare soil to help prevent erosion until a more permanent grass is established.