Memorial Day is a big time of year in the city of Houston. Whether you’re going to the Drake concert at the ‘Houston Appreciation Weekend’ event or taking in one of the many parades around Houston, Baytown and Sugar Land, the sun on your face is a welcome reprieve from the fleeting memory of winter.
For many Houston residents, there’s no better kick-off to the summer than a backyard cookout, and nothing worse for an outdoor party than to have your lawn in bad shape. Now is the time to start taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the Texas heat doesn’t inflict its damage on your yard.
Mindful Watering Habits
When and how you water your lawn is the most important factor in the quality of your yard. The industry standard for amount of water your lawn needs is roughly an inch of water per week or 1/2 an inch twice per week, whether the yard gets water manually or from rainfall. This can be measured with a can placed in the yard to collect water as you run your sprinkler or stand out there with a hose.
The best time to water the yard is early in the morning before the sun stars beating down on the turf. This will allow the water to soak into the dirt and to the roots, will avoid water loss due to evaporation and will give the grass time to dry out. Watering in the evening when the lawn isn’t allowed to dry out some could cause disease in the grass.
Take notice of possible watering restrictions in your community during possible periods of drought. This will affect when you can water your lawn. During the harshest dry periods, the city of Houston will typically limit the times you can water your yard to two days a week and only at certain times. It’s important not to miss those allowed watering days, which could result in the grass drying out.
Try to stay diligent to the one inch per week of water guideline. Too much water can be wasteful and damage harmful to the life span of the grass.
A good test to make sure you’re giving the yard enough water is to stick an instrument like a screwdriver into the dirt. If it goes in smoothly then you have given your lawn enough water. If it is difficult to push the tool in, then the yard needs more moisture.
It’s important to keep the right grass length to maintain a healthy and stress-free lawn. The grass should be taller during the summer months, which will allow for deeper root growth and cover from the sun. The insulation also allows for the soil to maintain its moisture better. The general rule of thumb is to keep the grass roughly the same height as a soda can turned on its side.
At the same time, it is also important not to let the grass get too long. The heat and drought are already tough and stressful on your yard. Removing more than 1/3 or the leaf blade height at one time can do damage to the grass. It’s also important to cut the grass with a sharp blade. Dull blades shred the tops of the blades of grass and leave them susceptible to disease.
Another important aspect of mowing for the health of your lawn is the mulch that is produced afterwards. The mulch should be spread throughout your yard evenly. This mulch helps retain moisture and returns nutrients to the grass and soil. This also ties in with maintaining the proper mowing schedule and grass height. If the grass gets too tall then the amount of mulch produced could smother the grass similar to fallen tree leaves in the late fall and winter.
Different mowing and watering strategies are required depending on the type of grass. The grasses typical to Houston lawns are hearty and should stand up well to heat, which will follow these tips. It is prudent to check the type of grass in your yard before taking any serious steps.
As the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The month of May is the ideal time to take the necessary preventative steps to ensure a healthy and lush lawn during the harshest summer months. The actions you take now will be seen a month from now. Once you start seeing signs of damage in your grass then it’s more than likely too late for any reparative action.
One key preventative measure is fertilization and aeration of the lawn. But not all fertilizers are created equal when it comes to summer lawn maintenance. Chemical fertilizers can have an adverse affect on your yard during the summer causing a burning affect. Chemical fertilizers should stop being used roughly a month before summer temperatures start kicking in.
The alternative is organic fertilizers, which release slowly and are less likely to damage lawns. This fertilization should be done in the late spring in anticipation of the summer, and then sparingly during the warmer months.
The formula in lawn fertilizers can change by region. Be mindful of purchasing a fertilizer product that works with the Houston climate.
It’s also not breaking any news to say that weeds are a problem, but what you do with them during the summer is very import. First of all, it’s critical to take care of weed problems during the summer before they’re able to germinate and seed in the fall. It is also recommended to apply weed treatment while the temperature is less than 85 degrees to prevent harming the grass.
Aerating and loosening the soil is another pivotal step in the process. This act ensures that the dirt retains its moisture. Tight, compact soil typically leads to quicker evaporation. Keeping the soil less compact allows for greater water penetration down to the roots.
Pest and Insect Control
The summer months are also a time when you’re likely to see more pests and insects in your lawn as tiny creatures search out for water. Many beetles and other insects lay their eggs in the grass during the early parts of the summer, which hatch into grubs during the middle of the season that will eat at your grass.
A healthy lawn will help prevent against insect infestations. Dry, stressed, or dormant lawns are more likely to be home to insects. Pesticides can be applied, but be careful with the amount of chemicals applied to you lawn during the summer which can cause stress in the grass.
Typical yard bugs and pests native to Houston include: Aphids, Caterpillars, Fleas, Fire Ants, Chinch Bugs, Grubs, Mosquitoes, Spider Mites, Snails, Slugs and Beetles.
The trick to having a lush and healthy lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood this summer just takes care and attention. It can be boiled down to proper watering and mowing. Make sure the grass is getting the proper amount of water at the right time, and ensure that the grass stays at the correct length. Those two easy steps will keep your neighbors thinking the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.
Hope you have a happy Memorial Day and a wonderful summer. This is the best time to enjoy the Houston heat before the August sun starts making us pine for the fall.