Jim Tachias

Master Gardener

A beautiful lawn is the most important feature for a well landscaped home.

A homeowner’s investment in a lawn and other landscaping is as good as any home improvement in increasing the value of a residence.

To enhance your investment lawn care and maintenance should not stop in the fall.

Under normal conditions these steps should be taken to protect and improve your lawn during the fall and winter months.

Sept. 1-15: Fertilize grass lawns with a light coverage of a high nitrogen such as 23-0-0 with at least 40 percent slow release nitrogen.  Follow label recommendations.

Sept. 1-10: If winter weeds such as henbit have been a problem, apply a pre-emergent herbicide for the control of annual winter weeds in the lawn. Water the herbicide application in thoroughly as soon as possible.

Sept. 15-30: Monitor St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia grass lawns for brown patch activity. If brown patch becomes active, treat with a current fungicide, and follow the label recommendations.

Rye Grasses, both perennial and annual, are suited for temporary cool season turf grasses. These grasses are used for temporary grass cover during the fall and winter months for protecting against erosion or newly prepared sites in the fall.

They can also be used to provide temporary green color during the winter months by overseeding Bermuda grass lawns. Rye grasses should be planted around Sept. 15.   

October-February    During the dormant stage, water the lawn every 4 to 5 weeks if adequate rainfall does not occur. Roots need water even in the winter.

Conduct soil analysis for fertilizer needs if you have not done so, or if major soil changes have occurred.

Measure the lawn so that fertilizers and pesticides may be applied at the recommended rates per 1,000 sq. ft.

Always calibrate granular applicators and sprayers prior to the application of fertilizers and pesticides.

March 1-15: If summer weeds have been a problem, apply a pre-emergent herbicide for the control of annual summer weeds in the lawn.  Water the herbicide application in thoroughly as soon as possible.

March 25-April 10:    In late March to early April scalp Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, and Zoysia lawns. 

Note, make sure you are past the last freeze date before scalping.  Once the lawn has been scalped, then start mowing the lawn at the recommended height as soon as the grass starts actively growing. You will have to remove all the clippings when scalping. Do not send this material to the dumping ground. Either compost this yard waste in your own compost pile or send it to another site that has a composting facility.

IMPORTANT:  Under extreme drought conditions, you should reduce your fertility program. Also, if your turf grass is stressed you should consider not using a pre-emergent herbicide for control of weeds, especially in St. Augustine lawns.

Jim Tachias is an Ellis County Master Gardener, a Texas Rainwater Harvesting Specialist and guest columnist in the Daily Light. For further information, contact the Ellis County Master Gardeners at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 701 South Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or e-mail: ellis-tx@tamu.edu.