Getting a Lawn Ready for Summer

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I’ve gotten a number of questions already this spring on getting rid of weeds by using a “Weed and Feed” product.

Let me get this off my chest right up front: I’m not a fan of the product. It’s not that I’m really opposed to weed and feed, per se. Look at it this way: I consider this combination product as being very similar to a “shampoo and conditioner in one!” product. I mean really, is your hair dirty or do you need to condition your hair?
To get the best-looking yard possible, treat for weeds when you need to get rid of weeds. Fertilize when it needs feeding.

Looking at my lawn and the lawns of others, it is clearly a time to get rid of weeds. What I’m seeing now is an abundance of cool season weeds.

“Cool season” weeds are vegetation that germinated and started growing last fall and during the winter. They are the weeds that you may notice are blooming now. The purple flowers are probably henbit. I have an abundance of wild onion with small white flowers. Clovers are coming up, though I’ve not seen any in bloom yet.
Many of these cool season weeds will be gone by summer. That will be the time for our warm season weeds to germinate and grow.

There are several products on the market that can do a great job. One active ingredient that I’ve bragged about before is atrazine. This was shared with me by a local golf course professional that told me it was the only product he’d use on St. Augustine grass. If you have a Bermuda lawn, go for a 2,4-D product or even a stout product such as MSM (available at many feed stores).

Feeding your lawn now by adding a fertilizer would be akin to preparing breakfast for me at 4 a.m. I’m not even close to waking up at that time!

Likewise, the turf grasses I’ve seen aren’t actively growing and ready to be fed. Give your lawn a few more weeks until its ready to wake up, and then they will utilize the fertilizer you apply for growth.

If you need to add lime, add lime now to your lawns. Lime helps to neutralize the pH in our commonly acidic soils. Lime isn’t really a fertilizer although it does contain Calcium, a secondary nutrient for plants. Lime’s purpose is to provide a better environment for the plants to grow. One of its better attributes is that it allows nutrients to be more available.

So does everyone need to lime? Not at all! Who does? I don’t have a clue. But with $10 spent on a soil test, anyone and everyone can find out exactly how much lime they’ll need to apply. Look up SFA soils lab on your computer’s search engine and download the two page PDF form you’ll need. If you just want to pick one up, our office (located next to the Angelina County Farmers Market) and some feed stores have soil testing forms.

It may be hard for us to understand how the complex environment of soil works. In the chemistry of soils, some nutrients are much more available in a more neutral pH environment. Suffice it to say that fertilizer applied to a very acidic soil may never be available to the plants it was intended to feed.

Lastly, is your sprinkler system running? If so, I’d probably turn it off. Overwatered lawns in the spring are prime targets for fungal disease in the fall. Watch the weather and add water when we have an extended dry spell. Summer is a great time to add water regularly to lawns. Anyone with the automatic system applying water three times a week now may be hurting their lawn more than helping it.

I wish you a lush lawn in 2017. Timing the weed control, the addition of nutrients, and your watering regimen correctly will greatly impact your success.

Author

Cary Sims
Cary Sims

Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu

Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

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