7 TIPS FOR A BEAUTIFUL LAWN
By: Dave Bucklin
The spring preparation of your lawn is a critical step in your annual lawn care if you want to have a healthy lawn through the hot Texas summer months. I am no expert and have no formal training. I’m just a self-taught, self-proclaimed “lawnaholic” who has learned over the years what it takes to have a beautiful lawn. There are many schools of thought on steps and timing. I’m going to share what has worked for me.
Start in mid to late March, depending on the weather and the ability to be able to work in the yard.
February is a great time to have your mower tuned up. Get the blades sharpened, change out the spark plug, change the oil, etc. This will keep your mower running smoothly throughout the season. Plus, the shops aren’t usually very busy in February, and the turnaround time is relatively short.
Clean up your lawn and flower beds. This seems straightforward, but removing the dead flowers and leaves along with pulling the weeds is crucial.
Early weed control is also key. February is a good time to put down pre- emergent to prevent summer weeds like crabgrass, dallis grass, etc. (I put pre-emergent down in the spring and again in the fall.) This is also a good time to identify the weeds that have populated your yard over the cooler months. However, treating the cooler season weeds will need to wait until the temperature warms up for the pre-emergent to be most effective. Read the label of whichever product you decide to use to ensure you get the best results.
Scalp your lawn in mid-March to prepare for aeration. “How low do you go?” Lower your mower two to three notches below your usual mowing height. I lower mine as low as I can without scraping dirt, which is about 1⁄2 inch above the ground. Scalping takes the dead grass off your lawn while opening up the roots to receive sunlight and absorb water. Bagging the grass and disposing of it is the best practice.
Your lawn’s roots need air. You can hire someone to aerate for you or you can rent a machine at your local home improvement store. (Doing it yourself is quite a workout, but it’s not impossible.) The machine should make plugs two to three inches deep and is most effective when the soil is moist or damp.
Finally, you need to fertilize. There are many opinions about which fertilizer and strength you should use. There are professional landscape stores that can be a big help, but your local nursery or home improvement stores can help also. My neighbors and I chose all organic last year and aren’t using any chemicals. Rather, by feeding the root system it retains more water and makes the grass more drought-tolerant. (That is a whole different topic for a different day.) Make sure you read the instructions and choose a fertilizer that is formulated for the type of grass you have.