This chapter will guide you through the ways to combat various threats to your lawn. Follow this guide to learn how to deal with horticultural adversaries such as water regulations, pests, weeds, and heat. We will not only detail the problem, but what Austin lawn services you should use to maintain a healthy lawn.
In September 2012, strong regulations were placed to help ensure proper water usage for the city of Austin, Texas. The city has a mandatory watering schedule in place all year for all customers. With this plan in place how can one still ensure that their lawn stays properly watered? Can watering your lawn once a week be enough to meet its demands and allow it to look its best? The answer is 'Yes' and the key to this is not necessarily the amount you water your lawn but rather how you do it.
Austin receives on average 32.15 inches of rain which is over 10% below the Texas average of 36.04 inches of rain. Texas also ranks 34th in annual rainfall per year of the 50 states. These statistics alone are enough to bring up some worry with regards to ensuring your lawn is properly hydrated. Throw on a few more regulations, and you can have a rather large concern on your hands.
No need to worry though! As stated before, it's not just how much you water your lawn, but how you go about it through 5 helpful steps:
Watering on a consistent schedule works well. It makes it harder to forget to water your grass and helps you follow that Austin water regulation schedule. However; be considerate of your grass' response to this given schedule. Overwatering can be bad for your lawn's health, leading to the growth of weeds and other various lawn disease. Dehydrating is even worse though. Examine your grass and determine if it 1) does not bounce back when stepped on or 2) has developed a blue-gray tint. These are two signs your grass needs to be watered a bit more.
Avoid watering from 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM. This is the hottest period of the day and is the least efficient. When spraying a hose or a sprinkler there is that brief time period before water hits the ground from the hose. During this time period, water has the opportunity to evaporate and never go to any use for your lawn. Watering early in the morning is best; it allows the lawn to take in all the water throughout the day and brace through blistering heat.
It is important to water your grass deeply so the roots can have a strong footing in your lawn. Strong roots are one of the hidden keys to lawn care success! How do you exactly water deeply though? Well the most important thing is to avoid frequent light waterings. This behavior prompts the grass to have shallower roots that remain towards the surface. In order to avoid this, take advantage of the fact that Austin residents are only allotted one day to water their lawns. When this one day comes around (unless it follows a large rain storm) your grass will be quenching water. Ensure to provide an impressive amount for a given period of time. A rarer longer sprinkle goes much farther than frequent quick ones.
Many people make the mistake of believing that every component of their lawn will be taken care of by the sprinkler. DON'T fall into this assumption. Pay specific attention to those zones that will never face the luxury of shade and ensure that you give that fact proper respect. If needed water them more than once a week. Do not over compensate for that given area by progressing to re-water your entire lawn. This lesson is more common sense; however, is embarrassingly one of the most commonly not accounted for.
Soil types vary through Texas. Get to know your lawn and get to know what specifically may work the best for it. Do things such as estimating how much water you may need based on soil types in your lawn. Take into account surrounding lawns with greater focus on those you admire and take lessons from their grooming back to your yard. Ultimately the only thing separating your neighbor's lawn from your own may be a fence.
Austin, TX is a wonderful area full of many marvelous lawns. In order to ensure your lawn is one of those beautiful ones, you must keep it healthy and out of harm's way from various enemies. One of the worst kinds of enemies for your lawn is pests. The two worst lawn pests in Austin, Texas are Grubs and Chinch Bugs. Read the following post to understand what these pests are, how to know if your lawn is infested, and if so how to effectively remove these pests and prevent them from reappearing.
Let's first touch on grubs. Grubs are worm-like, ugly creatures, with a milky color and curved body. Their body curves inward to represent the shape of a 'C'. These bugs grow three pairs of short legs. Their entire bodies measure to be roughly 1/4 to 1 inch long. These bugs are Beetle larvae in May and June and fully develop after that. Grubs specifically target Bermuda, buffalo, St. Augustine, and zoysia grasses. If you have one of these types of grasses, be on the lookout for grubs.
Grubs infest your lawn by eating grass or plant roots. If an infestation is left untreated it can completely destroy your lawn, discoloring it completely and taking the life out of it. Grub effects span beyond site as you can actually grasp your lawn and pick it up like a carpet once the roots have been eaten. If you get to this point you must understand that action against these bugs needs to be taken promptly. Damage most frequently can be seen during late summer to early fall months.
A simple test to know you have grubs is to cut out a 1×1 square block of turf you feel may be infested with grubs. If the grass comes out extremely easily and grubs are apparent, you know you have an infestation. Begin treatment immediately to avoid lawn catastrophe.
So how do you treat grubs? Well you actually fight fire with fire here. Nematodes are tiny worms that kill grubs. You attain an amount of nematodes relative to the amount of grubs you have and apply them to the infected areas. Once applied, be sure to water them in. Beneficial nematodes can be found at stores. View the picture below to understand what nematodes look like.
In addition to killing grubs, beneficial nematodes also kill fleas and other pests. Next let us talk about chinch bugs.
Chinch bugs are small, skinny, pill-like bugs. They only grow to about a 1/4 inch long but they come in large groups and can create quite a ruckus. You can identify adults by their deep black bodies and clear white wings. Baby chinch bugs, also called nymphs, are pink and red in color with a light colored stripe across their back. Nymphs are also wingless. Chinch bugs usually infest St. Augustine grass, but they have also been found to attack Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. See chinch bugs below.
Chinch bugs attack grass causing dead or stunted-growth grass encompassed by a yellowish circle perimeter. These areas normally start in an area that receives a lot of sun and is close to or right up against a concrete curb or sidewalk. In combination with strong heat and dry sunny weather chinch bug infestations can spread dramatically.
To test for chinch bugs, take a larger can (coffee cans work well), slice the bottom off, and insert it into the turf about an inch deep into the ground. This insertion should be in an area near the side walk or curb in what you believe to be the infested area. Next, fill the large can with water. If chinch bugs are infesting this given area, they will rise to the surface of the ground and into the water.
If you've identified a chinch bug infestation, there are a few methods you can take to removing the pests. A natural method is to make your lawn an ideal location for animals which prey on the chinch bug. Main predators consist of birds and big-eyed bugs. If you feel you've reached a point of infestation beyond natural treatment, you may turn to chemical annihilation. Insecticidal soap is an extremely effective killer of chinch bugs. If you decide to use this soap, try your best to limit the application to infected areas. The best method of chinch bug prevention is to ensure your lawn is well hydrated through smart irrigation.
Nobody likes weeds, but if you have a lawn in Austin, chances are you or your lawn care service has had to deal with them before. This guide was written to help you learn a little bit more about the weeds in your lawn and how you should control them.
Below are 8 of the most common weeds in Austin, Texas. However; many of these weeds are not only specific to this area so even if you're not dealing with a lawn in Austin, this post may still be helpful. View the picture below of the given weed and see the description below it to properly identify the specific weed you may be facing. Under the description, we teach you the proper method of controlling it
The wire-like, short perennial (plant that lives for more than two years) known as bermudagrass, has smooth and pointed leaves with a collection of white hairs at the connection of the blade and sheath. Bermudagrass flowering stem looks similar to that of crabgrass, but the spike like branches on crabgrass usually originate roughly 1/8 to 1/4inch apart while bermudagrass stems originate at the same place. They are around 1 to 2 inches long and have two rows of spikelets riding up one side of the central stem of the spike.
Bermudagrass, also known as couch grass, devil grass and wire grass, was first introduced from Africa in 1751 and has since widely spread throughout the southwest and southern US. It is a plant that is typically grown as both a turf grass as well as forage for livestock. Unfortunately, it has also become a big weed problem spreading to different areas that it was never intended to. Bermudagrass is now common in many gardens, landscapes, turf areas, orchards, vineyards and many other areas.
Bermudagrass is a tough weed to tackle, in particular when it is rooted in an established area. Fortunately, it can be taken care of through many different means. If one desires to pursue a nonchemical route they may cultivate the weed or dehydrate the area in which it inhabits. Additionally one can apply a layer of thick mulch over the bermudagrass if it is in a particularly larger region. The mulch will block the sun light and with time, cause the grass to die.
Another clever technique one may use to take down this weed is to limit further growth by creating shade over the bermudagrass. This may be orchestrated through plantation of trees or other tall shrubs.
If one wants to partake in elimination of bermudagrass through chemical usage, they can purchase postemergent herbicides. This chemical can be used on currently growing bermudagrass during the warmer seasons.
Annual bluegrass comes to live every year and can grow to 6 to 8 inches. The stems are flattened and bare a green tint, with leaf blades protruding from them that are many times crinkled and vary from 1 to 3 inches long. The unique component of the annual bluegrass is the leaf tips which are Poa boat-shaped. The flowering structure of the bluegrass has branching seed clusters which vary between 1 to 4 inches when fully grown.
If one is a typical lawn care owner they are far too familiar with this weed. Annual bluegrass is one of the most frequently appearing weeds throughout the entire United States. It invades anything from turf grass to gardens and was once exclusively native to Europe; however, has since been spread worldwide.
The strongest method of control is to just in general stop new infestations from occurring. The best way to act on this is to clean landscaping equipment that is used in contaminated areas. How can one focus on properly removing the grass already there though?
When individual plants of annual bluegrass are discovered, they should be isolated then completely removed. Non-chemical removal can be through hand or hoeing, with the understanding that each operation must be performed frequently.
Bluegrass is very difficult to resolve in a larger scale though. Constant attention as well as planting of other shrugs or grass increase its nutrient competition though, and will make returning of the grass more difficult the following year. This will decrease the amount that may return or the overall chance of it returning at all.
Chickweed is a shorter shrubbier weed. It is uncommon to see it grow greater than 2 inches tall and is not as compact in shaded areas or gardens. The pointed tipped, eye-catchingly green, smooth leaves shoot out from stems each having a diagnostic ring of hairs cascading up one side. The leaves grow in opposite direction and across from one another and from them a small flower with five white petals protrudes.
Common chickweed is named after the fact that its seeds are a desired food for chickens and many more birds. It is wide spread throughout most of Texas and dominates well-watered areas. Unfortunately, it is notorious for being a reservoir for pests and plant diseases and viruses. The fact that chickweed is highly adaptable to nearly every environmental environment has allowed it to prosper and infest much of the US as well.
Hand weeding, mulches, solarization and cultivation are the best ways to take care of chickweed. Due to the fact that chickweed has the tendency to grow throughout and around other plants, the use of herbicides can be extremely destructive to a fair amount of the lawn if used. Another large focus on chickweed maintenance should be to take care of it before it flowers. Once it flowers its seeds are released and it can spread like wild fire especially if moist conditions.
Crabgrass is a low growing patchy weed. It seeds as a lighter green but eventually evolves to a much darker green when fully grown. The leaf blade is from 1/4 to 1/3 inches across, and up to 6 inches long and pointed. The many of patches of crabgrass can lump together and create large regions. Crabgrass is nationally one of the most famous weeds and if one has had a weed problem with lawns, this is definitely a top contender for which weed it could have been. Crabgrass sometimes has a reddish tint at its base where all the grass blades sprout from.
Crabgrass was native to Eurasia but in recent centuries has infested the world. There are two main types of crabgrass, smooth and large. Smooth crabgrass tends to be a little patchier and with more blades, versus large crabgrass which tends to grow a little taller and has small hairs protracting from many of its blades. Both types of crabgrass are annuals. This means they germinate (come to life), set seed for future crabgrass, and then die off with the first winter's frost. Next late spring to early summer though, one can expect to find it regrown if not tended to. It can sometimes be confused with bermudagrass, goosegrass and a few other types of grasses. Fortunately it is not a perennial (plant that lives for more than 2 years) like those other grasses
As much of a pain as crabgrass can be; due to the fact that it is such a common problem, there are many ways to control it. This can be done through both cultural and chemical means. Through either path the best method of attack is to ensure you control the crabgrass before it sets seed. This is because seed can stay in the soil for up to three years with the ability to germinate any summer term over that span.
How does one specifically achieve this control though? Well culturally, the best method versus crabgrass is to overseed grass making it thick and strong. Due to the fact it's so thick; it will require more nutrients and additionally provide less area for the crabgrass to grow.
Chemically there are a variety of chemical agents which specifically target crabgrass. Many of them will get the job done; however, see the label and various reviews to decide which choice may be best for your lawn. Some crabgrass killers may get the job done quickly; however, kill off a lot of other plants or grass on your lawn. Other killers may work slower, but can undertake a controlled annihilation.
Dandelions are another extremely common weed. They have a thicker leafier base, with wider blades blasting out from a center area. These leaf blades have deeply serrated margins. These form a typical “lion's tooth” outline. From this is which the name dent-de-lion (tooth of lion) is derived. Out of the base shoots tube like stems that finish with either a bright yellow flower or a puffball of 100 to 250 rays. The stems typically range in height from 6 inches to 24 inches.
Dandelions may be the largest weed problem across the US. As early as Roman times dandelions were used as a medicinal plant and potherb. Brought to the US from Europe this weed was quick to make itself feel at home, infesting various fields and terrains across the land. As unfortunate of a weed it is, the plant does have its purpose. Dandelion's flowers and leaves are ingredients in some salads, beer, and wine. This weed is also known as puffball and lion's tooth.
Due to the puffballs with many different seedling flower rays that can carry for miles with the simple gust of a wind, the total control and prevention of dandelions is near impossible. With this said, if one is to identify a dandelion on their lawn they should certainly grub it out. To grub out a plant means completely uproot it and remove any trace of its existence. There are specific tools available to purchase for this specific purpose if one desires.
Next one should oversee the areas in which they dug out the dandelions for a few months and restrike if any regrow in the region. With the method of overseeding, grass will come in thicker and therefore make the germination of new dandelions extremely difficult. Certainly this should be taken into account as well.
If one desires to use a chemical solution, once may turn to herbicides. One particularly strong herbicide is isoxaben. With this herbicide it is still imperative to strike before the dandelion can reseed itself over a greater area.
Henbit is a green and purple colored plant. It has rounded leaves, many in the shape of spades, which are a light greenish color. The stems are square and the plant itself can bloom to a height of over 15 inches. The flowers of the henbit are its most unique feature. They are a red and purple color having darker coloring spots on lower petals. One can observe the plant flowering in the spring.
The spice of mint is actually a close cousin of the henbit. The henbit began as a weed infesting gardens and other moist terrain along the east coast; however, slowly spread across the US. Now the plant has reached the west coast and has gone as far south as Texas. One thing rather interesting about the henbit is its varying blooming times based on region. In the south the henbit sprouts in the fall months and blooms in the early spring. In the north, it is much later and in turn is a spring annual plant. As attractive as the henbit may seem at first with its pretty flowers, this weed will viciously engulf a garden. Prompt action should be taken when spotted in a lawn.
There are many common techniques to tackle the henbit problem. One of the most simple and environmentally friendly is mulching. One should apply mulch over the plant; therefore, depriving it of the sunlight. Pulling can also be effective; however with a large infestation can be difficult. The trick with pulling is to act when the soil is wet. When this is the case, the henbit will slide right out of the ground. When pulling getting the root up is extremely important. Another method for removal is to cultivate henbit areas with a tiller. This action will mangle their tops and slice their roots, which leads to a predominant amount of the plants drying up and dying.
Nutsedge looks very similar to grass. To call nutsedge grass would be incorrect though because it is actually a sedge. Nutsedge has leaves which are wider and stronger than most grasses and pop in sets of three at their base. Grass leaves grow in sets of two across from one another. Nutsedge takes on a brighter yellow color normally but particular forms of nutsedge may take on red or purple stems.
Nutsedges flourish in waterlogged soil. Their very existence usually represents that drainage is really poor in the area. Nutsedges are a prime example of why over watering your lawn can be bad. These weeds tend to come as a surprise for many lawn owners that really care about their lawn. They over water it through sprinkler or hose use and in time discover this weed growing in patches throughout their thick grass. Nutsedges are plentiful in many different gardens. It may be difficult to image that one's lawn be overwatered with the overwatering regulations of Austin, Texas; however, that does not make it impossible from occurring.
Nutsedge is a rather difficult weed to control once established. It may take a heavily waterlogged environment to first develop itself; however, once it has been established, it no longer demands those heavy water conditions. With that said, dehydration is still as anticipated one of the best ways to tackle this problem. If you can turn an area completely overrun with excess water into a dryer region than nutsedge will struggle to flourish as it once did.
Other effective removal methods of nutsedge include shading and mulching. Nutsedge begins in a highly hydrated environment but is able to sustain in large part due to sunlight. Take this asset away from it and the weed is sure to struggle. Specific herbicides may also be used for chemical control of nutsedge.
Purslane forms a dense mat of shrubbery weed. It has oval, smooth and firm leaves shooting out from a deep red stem. These leaves are a deep green and are rather shiny, typically growing opposite from one another. Rarely however sometimes they will grow alternatively. The reddish stems all originate from a central rooting point. Stems range in length from 2 to 14 inches.
Purslane is a global weed that occurs annually. It infests any area from vegetable gardens to low-maintenance lawns and even sandy areas uninhabited by many other shrubbery. Purslane was found and labeled in 1672 in Massachusetts. The weed has evolved itself to well adapt to warm climates as well. Purslane is edible, and at first sweet, but caries a stronger acidic after taste. Some throw it in with salad herbs while many ethnicities use it in cultural meals. Purslane has wonderful health benefits.
Purslane is a great seeder and therefore should be prevented from initial germination at all costs. Unfortunately if it is to blemish in one's lawn though, they should take strong measures to ensure its removal. Mulching can be used as an effective killer as well as cultivation. Cultivation can really have an impact because of the fact that purslane grows near the surface and is not deeply rooted. In a worst case scenario one can turn to chemical control; however, purslane rarely gets to this level of infestation. This is a weed that is very preventable for those that greatly care for their lawn and are attentive to it.
Hopefully this was helpful to any Austinites dealing with weeds. Follow these guidelines and see the photos to properly identify if this is a weed that is greatly effecting your lawn and take the allotted measures to help ensure removal. A good lawn owner should never let weeds stop them from their dream lawn.
Summer in Austin is hot! With it comes a time for new adventures and new memories to be made. But before you head out to Barton Springs Pool or wherever you may be going for the day, it's important to pay a little attention to your lawn. As much fun as the summer weather brings, with it comes a whole new slew of lawn care problems. Below are 5 different helpful pointers to help you leave your lawn safe and sound so that you can get on with your day and make the most out of the season.
Why is it imperative to maintain a deep soil depth? Well during the summer your grass will incur its fair share of struggles. One of these struggles that seems to pop its head up every year is the blistering heat combined with a regulated (limited) supply of water. With the Austin, Texas water regulations in place, as someone who cares for your lawn, you must do everything in your power to combat the dehydration in brings.
One great way of doing this is by ensuring a deep soil depth which in turn provides the grass with a deep area to grow its roots. If the grass can anchor its roots deep within the soil then it can greater dig for nutrients and water when those resources are scarce. Additionally strong roots make it more difficult for weeds and other unwanted pests to develop in that area.
Herbicides can do wonders for killing weeds. It's no wonder so many people turn to them to attack and fight off their varying lawn disease problems. As great as they may appear on the outside, herbicides do have many usage repercussions when closely examined. Herbicides kill. Whether that be a good thing as they kill weeds, a bad thing is that they kill the grass and other plants around them. Additionally they have a killer impact in the environment you live in as a whole. This does not mean to worry if you regularly use herbicides, just be aware that the chemicals within them can seep deep into the ground and wind up someplace they were never intended to be. Many of these chemicals are completely toxic for the entire environment.
By establishing a strong turf you make it tougher for weeds to grow. By killing the problem early in the process and at its root, you as an individual who cares for their lawn can feel good. That is the best time to strike. If it's early enough it's common to eliminate the need for pesticides.
Aeration allows for your soil to de-compact. This is important so your grass and grow through it comfortably and establish strong roots. Also through aeration, you, as the owner of the lawn, now open the roots of grass or other plants up to water, soil, and air. Aeration is an absolutely essential Austin lawn care process if you want to maintain a happy and healthy lawn. Especially during the summer time when particular areas could use any extra nutrients they get.
The way in which you irrigate your lawn is incredibly important in the Austin, Texas area. We already touched on the water regulation in place for Austin. With this consideration, when you are given the opportunity to water your lawn, you must capitalize. Do this by irrigating efficiently. Water in the morning, during the cooler point of the day. This will allow the maximum amount of water to reach your grass instead of evaporating from the agonizing heat. Also, watering in the morning allows for your grass to absorb the water throughout the afternoon through the day's hottest point.
Try to also wet the soil to a depth of 5-7 inches. Watering the top grass is good, but it's ultimately the roots that need the water. If you've followed hints 1 and 2, this is the final piece to maximizing that work. The soil is deep enough and the turf is strong. All you need is to provide the hydration to fully utilize these features.
Fertilization is key to ensure your lawn is growing its greatest; however, it's best if you can provide specific nutrients which your soil is in need of. These nutrients can be determined by monitoring your soil. How do you monitor your soil? There are four great ways to this. You can use a commercial test probe, use the red cabbage method, use vinegar and baking soda, or even change its current pH level and track its response to the change. For in depth explanation of all these methods, click here.
Well those are five recommendations for you to help brace your lawn for the summer. For further tips and other information also consult www.austintexas.gov. This website is full of great, reliable information for many of your Austin needs.