You might be thinking you don't have to do to much to take care of your lawn going into the colder winter months here in Texas, except to watch it go dormant. But if you want your lawn to come back happy and healthy in the spring there are a few simple steps you must take to ensure a nice lawn in the spring.
Your lawn grasses should be watered even during the winter if we experience a few weeks without any decent rainfall. As a general rule of thumb, your lawn should receive at least 1-2 inches of water per week. If your grass looks dull and droopy, its time for a good watering.
During the spring and summer months you've learned that its best to water in the early morning hours and this also applies to winter watering. Watering slowly and deeply will encourage your roots to grow deep and strong.
If you'd like to have a nice green lawn throughout the winter months as well, you can plant grass seeds that are specially made for cooler temperatures. Tall fescue and ryegrass are all great cool season grasses. You'll want to fertilize these types of grasses the same as you would your spring and summer grass. A good time table to feed your winter grass is every other month begining with October. So you will feed for example- October 1st, December 1st, February 1st, and April 1st. We recommend 15-5-10 as a great winter grass fertilizer.
Tall Fescue - this grass will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but it really tends to prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. This type of grass is used extensively in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and in Northern Texas. Fescue can be used in any area in a shady spot.
Ryegrass - The most popular cool season grass in the East Texas area! Ryegrass is great for over-seeding your regular summer grasses and for helping new lawns get started.
Pre-Emergent for Spring Weed Control
Mid-September is a great time to apply a good pre-emergent to your lawn to prevent weeds from appearing in the spring. Most people don't think about spring weeds until...well spring when they start appearing! But if you take the steps now in the fall, you won't see to many weeds, including grass burrs in the spring.
We offer 2 types and highly recommend both. Both of these products are available in a granular form and are applied with a lawn spreader.
Hi-Yield Turf & Ornamental Weed Preventer with Dimension can be used in your landscaped beds as well as on your lawn. Dimension is a pre-emergent weed killer and it works to keep weed seeds from germinating in your flower beds and other landscaped areas. Dimension is better than products with treflan (Preen) because it lasts longer. Treflan weed preventers only last a maximum of 90 days, Hi-Yield Turf & Ornamental with Dimension will last a full 120 days. Because of Dimension's longevity, you only need to apply it twice during the growing season, whereas Treflan requires 3 applications.
Balan is another pre-emergent we recommend for lawns, and our best-seller. This popular pre-emergent herbicide has long been used for the control of grabgrass and other annual grassy weeds. Balan is labeled for use on established warm and cool season grasses. It is the best for preventing sticker burrs from going to seed in the spring. To read more about how to prevent and treat for sticker burrs, read our informative article "Combatting Sticker Burrs in Your Lawn"
Winterizer for Your Lawn
Almost all lawns, will react to cooler weather in the fall by entering a period of dormancy, or extremely slow growth. Just prior to this dormancy is the best time for your to apply your last fertilization for the year. Winterizer needs to be applied to your lawn at least 30 days before a hard frost so that it has time to be absorbed into the grass leaves. Winterizer is a granule that looks similar to your regular fertilizer you've applied in the spring. Mid to late September and then again around Thanksgiving are great guidelines.
While its not important to maintain a green lawn into the colder winter months, it is important for your lawn's roots to continue growing as long as possible. This underground growth results in a healthier lawn the following year.
Because the ideal Winterization feeding is primarily for the root system, the ratio of this final fertilization may be a little different than your normal fertilizer application. In the fall, your grass is actually storing nutrients for the approaching cold weather. This is typical for most perennials (which most turfgrasses are), with the exception of a few, like ryegrass for example.
When your grass is storing 'energy', the single most important nutrient is phosphorus. Its key role is to transfer the 'energy' within the plant and root system. Phosphorus also promotes stronger roots and it helps your grass become more tolerant of diseases. Using a Winterizer also gives your lawn a healthy dose of potassium to help protect your lawn as it helps promote a tolerance to the cold temperatures and foot traffic, which can severely damage your lawn during the cold weather.