The Q&A Archives: New home owner

Question: I am a new home owner trying to fix a long forgotten lawn. Ive got dead spots, crab grass and spots with just dirt. Is it to late to fix with the time of year it is? The Texas heat and not a lot of rain have to be hurting it. What can I do?

Answer: I think you can rehabilitate your turf with good care. Good lawn care can be summarized in three cultural practices: mowing, watering and fertilizing. If you will do these three properly, your lawn will be the best on the block! Frequent mowing is better than infrequent mowing. Mow on a 5-7 day schedule, removing no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. While many homeowners like to water 15 minutes a day, your turf will benefit from a good soaking applied less often. Apply 1/2 to 1 inch of water once or twice a week. A coffee can makes a good rain gauge to test out how long it will need to be run to apply an inch. Frequent wetting promotes disease problems and a shallow rooted turf. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and the grass will develop a deep root system and do much better. Fertilize with no more than 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen in spring after you have mowed the grass twice, again in June, another feeding in September and again in late November. Apply a product with a 3-1-2 ratio of nutrients as this is roughly the ratio of nutrients grass takes in. So, for example, if you purchased a 15-5-10 fertilizer (15% nitrogen), you would apply about 7 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .15 = about 7). If you purchased a 21-7-14 fertilizer (21 % nitrogen), you would apply about 5 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .21 = about 5). Healthy turf will choke out most of its weed problems. When the turf is thin and soil is exposed to the sunlight, weeds will sprout and you have a battle on your hands. So first concentrate on the above 3 cultural practices and you will be amazed at the results. This fall, when the weather cools you can rake out the bare areas and overseed. The seed should germinate in 7-10 days. Crabgrass is an annual weed and will die out when the weather cools, but the seeds it leaves behind will be ready to germinate next spring. To keep that from happening, apply a pre emergent herbicide in February or March. Best wishes with your new landscape!

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