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A Little Bit About Grass Seed Planting

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the best type of grass seed to plant. My answer is two part –

1) the ground temp is still a bit cool to germinate all of the seed, so I’d suggest waiting a couple of weeks;

2) are you planting in sun or shade?

Common Bermuda is the most economical grass to plant and the most forgiving. It germinates in 5-10 days and grows in most soil conditions and is drought resistant. It will spread and cover your yard quickly. It does best in sun and does not do well in shade.

Centipede Grass germinates slower than Bermuda – up to 30 days. It also prefers sun but will tolerate shade. It is an aggressive grower when healthy and will choke out weeds and other grasses. Being heat tolerant and low-maintenance it is a favorite in East Texas.

Zoysia Grass is a dense turf and once established creates a thick lawn that also chokes out weeds. However, getting it established from seed can take a long time. Germination is 21 days, but its growth rate is so slow most people choose to plant with plugs or sod. It prefers sun but tolerates more shade than Bermuda.

Methods for planting warm season grass seed can be spreading seed directly with a seed spreader or through hydromulching. This is a method of mixing a slurry of water, mulch, seed and fertilizer and spraying it on your soil through a hydroseeding machine.

There is no warm season grass seed that performs well in the shade in our area. The best grass for shade is St. Augustine but can only be planted from plugs or sod.

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Should I Weed & Feed?

From the research I’ve done on this subject the answer is unanimously NO, it is not recommended for our area in North East Texas.   

What is Weed and Feed?  It is a granular combination of fertilizer and weedkiller in 1 bag.  In theory it sounds too good to be true and according to the experts it is just that. 

The granules aren’t as effective as spray weedkillers since most herbicides work through leaf absorption.  Granules fail to adhere to the weeds as well as a weedkiller applied as a spray. In turn the granules of fertilizer that stick to the grass blades can cause stress to your grass.

Application through rotary spreaders scatters the granules into flowerbeds and under trees which can cause damage to desirable plants.  Directions on the bag caution against using under trees and shrubs but tree roots can grow 1 to 1 ½ times the tree’s height out from the tree making it difficult if not impossible to prevent contact of the weedkilling herbicide to the roots of trees and shrubs. 

Neil Sperry says, “No” to the use of Weed and Feed.  In our area the best time to apply a weed killer is not the best time to apply fertilizer to our grass, so applying them both at the same time through the use of a Weed and Feed is not ideal.

He suggests the following for weed control and fertilizing your lawn in spring:

  • Apply a pre-emergent weed killer to stop germination of weed seeds in late February to March and then again in June.  
  • Use a broadleafed herbicide to kill clover, dandelions and other non-grassy weeds, 2-4,D in spray form. 
  • Fertilize your lawn in North Texas around April 1- April 15th.  Wait until your grass is actively growing. 

There are people who have applied Weed and Feed for years with good results and will disagree with this article.  Please don’t send me emails…  There are 2 sides to every coin and that adage fits as to whether you decide to apply or not to apply Weed and Feed.  

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It’s Time To Put Out Pre-Emergent!

Is it always weed season in Texas?  Seems to be the case.  Actually, we have 2 main weed types – cool season weeds and warm season weeds.  What’s growing now are the cool season weeds and as they begin to disappear the warm season weeds will take their place – so yes, it is always weed season in Texas!

The best place to start is to understand what you’re up against.  Weeds throw off thousand of seeds per plant, think about that – thousands per plant, multiplied by how many plants?  Not all of them live and sprout into a weed, otherwise the world would literally be overrun by weeds. 

One method of weed control is by using a pre-emergent in your lawn and flower beds.  This chemical option stops weed seeds from germinating and becoming a weed.  Spread the pre-emergent granules onto your lawn and in your flower beds before the seeds begin to germinate.  The granules are broken down by water so watering the area after applying allows the herbicide to be drawn down to the seed level. 

When do I apply a pre-emergent?  In early spring (mid-February/March) to prevent warm season weeds and in the fall (Oct) to prevent cool season weeds.  It is so much easier spreading these granules than pulling weeds!

Neil Sperry suggests using a pre-emergent with Dimension as the active ingredient.   Bring us your lawn and bed dimensions (pardon the pun) and we’ll calculate how much you need. 

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Using Epsom Salts in your Garden

Epsom salt – also known as magnesium sulfate – helps seeds germinate, makes plants grow bushier, produces more flowers, and deters pests, such as slugs and voles. It also provides vital nutrients to supplement your regular fertilizer.

Plants will have visible signs that they are starved for a particular nutrient. If a plant’s leaves turn yellow all over the plant, it can be a sign they need more sulfate. If lower leaves turn yellow between the veins (and the veins stay green), they may need more magnesium.

Epsom Salt is recommended by Master Gardeners and used regularly by commercial growers around the world. Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that roses fertilized with Epsom Salt grow bushier and produce more flowers, and it also makes pepper plants grow larger than those treated only with commercial fertilizer.

Here are some other tips for using Epsom salt in the garden:

Houseplants: 

– 2 tablespoons per gallon of water; feed plants monthly.

– Frequent watering for indoor plants can cause a buildup of salts in their pot. A tablespoon of Epsom Salt sprinkled on top can aid in flushing the salt buildup out.

– Spray leaves of houseplants to increase their green color, just combine 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and a gallon of warm water in a spray bottle and spray directly onto the leaves of the plant.

Roses: 

– 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks. Also scratch 1/2 cup into soil at base to encourage flowering canes and healthy new canes. Soak unplanted rose bushes in 1 cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Add a tablespoon of Epsom Salt to each hole at planting time.

Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): 

– 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet. Apply over root zone every 2-4 weeks.

Lawns: 

– Apply 3 pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.

Trees:

– Apply 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet. Apply over the root zone 3 times annually.

Garden Startup:

– Sprinkle 1 cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.

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It’s Fall! Time to put out Pre-Emergent!

Is it too late to apply a pre-emergent to my lawn and flower beds since it’s Fall?

No, this is the perfect time to broadcast pre-emergent granules on your lawn and flower beds to help prevent cool season weeds from germinating and growing this winter. Your lawn will be so much healthier when it isn’t competing for nutrients and water with ugly weeds.

Neil Sperry suggests using a pre-emergent with Dimension as the active ingredient. There are several products that include Dimension and we’ve found one that works in both lawns and flower beds which has a higher concentration than many on the market – thus saving you money. Bring us your lawn and bed dimensions (pardon the pun) and we’ll calculate how much you need.

A Pre-Emergent lawn care product eliminates weeds at the earliest stage of growth — before you even see them. Several key factors are important to consider if you want to use this type of weed killer effectively.

Here in East Texas, because our weather is all over the place, it is recommended to put it down every 3 to 4 months.

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Enjoy a Lush Summer Lawn!

Do you struggle each year trying to keep your lawn looking lush during the heat of the summer?  If so, follow these tips to help your grass look its best.

lushlawn1Mow it High:  By allowing your grass to grow longer by an inch or so more in the summer you cut down on water evaporation from the soil, grow deeper roots, and help shade the soil and cut down of water evaporation.  Only mow 1/3 of the length of your grass at each mowing.  Warm season grass should be mowed between 2” – 3” high.

Water Deeply but Infrequently: Lawns need at least 1 inch of water per week.  It is best to water early in the day to help reduce evaporation and fungal growth.  Frequent, shallow watering encourages grass to grow short roots, causing the grass to stress so be sure to water deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots.   Tip:  place a small tuna can in your lawn to capture water while your sprinkler is on.  When it measures 1” of water then you have watered enough – watch the time and this is how long you need to water each time.

Feed Regularly:  There are conflicting points of view on whether to fertilize your lawn in hot weather.  Within 6-8 weeks of feeding, nutrients in the soil need to be replenished to maintain a thick lawn.  If you irrigate your grass then fertilization is most definitely helpful.  The opposing point of view is that the increased growth results in additional stress on the lawn. lushlawn2

Control Weeds:  Weeds compete with your grass for water – so start a weed management program to rid your yard of weeds.  Use a selective weed spray on actively growing weeds and apply pre-emergent granules twice a year (Spring & Fall) to prevent weed seeds from germinating.

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