Sometimes, when we look out our windows at our fresh, green lawns, it can be easy to forget that they are objects in motion. Your lawn and garden are like other living things, they don’t standstill. They are constantly engaged, eating, growing, shrinking, decomposing, defending themselves, and storing energy. Those who take the time to figure out what their lawn is doing and when are often those with the healthiest lawns on the block.
We ask a lot from the grass which makes up our lawn. We want it to be thick and green. We want it to be evenly spread, with nice coverage over a wide space that can be a mixture of sunny and shaded. In the grass world, our lawns are basically made up of professional athletes. Much more fit than grass left to grow wild somewhere in a field.
But with a little help, a specialized diet, and a little coaching, we assure you that your grass is up to the challenge! The best place to start is to take a look at your lawn’s schedule.
Introducing: Your Lawn’s Busy Schedule
No matter what type of grass you choose to make up your lawn, it is going to follow a certain, specific schedule. Generally, that schedule looks like this:
Late Winter/Early Spring - Things may look peachy from the surface, but underground, there is a turf war in progress. See, your grass occupies a very in-demand space. Healthy soil which has a history of nutrients and getting plenty of water. That means other plants want in. As early as January, the seeds of dozens of varieties of weeds are attempting to nudge into your lawn’s soil, trying to gain a foothold so they can take over. If the weeds are successful, they will push your grass out of the way and soak up all those good nutrients you poured into your lawn the year before.
Spring - Spring is when your grass (and the weeds competing against it) begin to grow. During this time, food is the name of the game. Your grass needs to replace the nutrients it expels during this time as it tries to grow as much as possible. As we fertilize our lawns, this encourages more growth.
Summer - During the late Spring, Summer, and into Fall, your grass is at peak performance levels and fighting off drought. It needs to be fed, hydrated, and have its nutrients regularly replenished if you don’t want to see it tire out.
Fall - In the Fall, your lawn begins to enter recovery mode. Its focus shifts from growth to storing nutrients for the upcoming winter. Most species of grass go dormant in the winter to avoid expelling resources in harsh conditions. If grasses are too old or don’t have sufficient resources to outlast the winter, they will die.
Nearly every lawn develops something called thatch as well. Thatch is a built-up layer of dead grass, leaves, and bric-a-brac which settles around the stems of each blade of grass. Layers of thatch can often be thick and if left alone can strangle grasses. Fall is the best time to aerate and combat thatch.
Additionally, Fall is the time when the seeds of competition plants such as weeds and crabgrass begin to find their way into your soil. (Which is why we always recommend pre-emergents!)
Year-Round - All year-round, as your lawn focuses on its own performance, it can be threatened by outside, existential threats. Most often, these threats come in these forms: drought, disease, and poor maintenance.
Your Lawn’s Strongest Ally
You already know where we’re going with this. When it comes to lending your lawn a helping hand, there’s no one better than, you guessed it, you. You are your lawn’s strongest, most dependable ally in its fight for survival.
Pre-emergence - In the spring, you can help control the turf war that’s going on beneath your soil by applying a pre-emergent weed control herbicide. Pre-emergents are best applied very early in the season. They attack weeds by killing them once they germinate, while they are in the vulnerable stage between seed and sprout.
Different weeds germinate at different times of the year, that’s why we have multiple applications. The first round of pre-emergents starts September 15 and must be down by October 31st to be the most effective. Our second round starts January 1 and the third round near February/March.
Earlier is always better because if the weeds have germinated, you're too late!
Pre-emergence treatments are very effective using this method, but they do not kill weeds which have broken the soil barrier or weeds still in the seed. That is why we offer our pre-emergence treatments in conjunction with post-emergence treatments as well, to knock out any weeds that have slipped through your soil’s defenses before they can spread seeds of their own.
One more note on pre-emergent treatments. These treatments often involve chemicals that need to be properly mixed and properly applied so as not to damage grass or cause unwarranted pollution. That’s why the applications are best left to the professionals!
Growing Season - Around early April, your grass switches hard into growth mode. That’s the time when it needs FOOD and lots of it. Think of the way a bear eats when it emerges from hibernation. The same thing is happening at your soil level. Your grass is trying to get big and strong before dormancy in the winter.
So how can you help?
Water and fertilizer. In a vacuum, that would be all your lawn needed to rise like green rockets, all summer long. Proper watering methods, that is to say roughly one inch per week, allowing the water plenty of time to sink below the soil and drench the roots, combined with the perfect fertilizer and fertilization methods lead to strong, healthy grass.
Mowing height and frequency. We’ve talked about this before and of course we’ll say it again. Continuing to mow at the right height, not taking any more than ⅓ of the grass plant off at any time is vital. For this reason, we highly recommend weekly mowing instead of bi-weekly mowing which allows for less lawn clippings being left in the yard and reduces the amount of thatch the lawn has every year.
When grass clippings can’t break down fast enough due to lack of water or improper mowing, more thatch is formed.
Unfortunately (for your grass), we do not live in a vacuum, and the growing season attracts other things. Things which, coincidentally, eat grass, infect grass, or like to live among it.
In North Texas, we have several of these to contend with. Notably, fire ants, grubs, and types of diseases which can infect grass. Fire ants use our lawns to build nests. They make mounds in grassy, open areas that are connected beneath the soil by tunnel systems which can spread over twenty-five feet. They are difficult to control and getting rid of them requires clever methods.
Grubs like to tunnel beneath the soil and eat the root systems of healthy grass. While grubs alone can be a problem, they also tend to attract predators, things like birds, moles, and armadillos, which will dig for the grubs through your carefully fertilized soil.
Fall - To prepare your lawn for the upcoming winter, we recommend aerating sometime around the end of September as we mentioned before. Aeration removes thatch and allows valuable nutrients to reach the roots of your grass, a few inches down in the soil.
Having a Beautiful, Healthy Lawn is a Commitment
We understand the information we’ve shared today can seem like a lot. Well, that’s because it is. Your grass isn’t a static thing, it is in a constant battle for survival and since we are its best ally, it means we have to pitch in.
That’s why our service package includes a minimum of seven visits to your home, beginning as early as January and ending as late as November.
This service is a good fit for busy people who might not have time to fight shoulder to shoulder with their green space throughout the year, but still want their lawn strong and healthy.
Contact us for a free quote and lawn analysis today!