Maintaining the perfect lawn in the Central Texas heat is no mean feat. It takes time, energy, and lots of effort to care for your yard, whether you use professional help or do it yourself. However, not all of the advice you get may be accurate. In order to keep your lawn in tip-top shape, let’s debunk some of the most popular lawn care myths in Austin right now.
1. You Should Bag Your Grass Clippings
It’s widely believed that your grass clippings will create thatch buildup if left on the lawn. While that’s a mistaken belief, we understand why the myth became popular.
It’s easier to bag clippings than to leave them be. However, in doing so, you’re missing out on the benefits of using those clippings as mulch. It not only saves time, but lawn clippings are mostly water, which decomposes quickly and adds essential nutrients back into your lawn.
2. Winters are Breaks for Lawn Care
It may seem that Austin has a mild winter and that existing in this often-balmy city means taking a break from lawn care during the colder months. While winters here are much more moderate than in other areas of the United States, that doesn’t mean you get to sit back and relax. In fact, you still have some work to do in the cold season.
Believe it or not, winter lawn care in Austin is just as important as lawn care during the rest of the year. Some winter lawn care tasks include:
- Watering your lawn regularly to prevent winter desiccation
- Applying a special winter fertilizer to help strengthen your lawn
- Sharpening the mower blades to prepare for spring
- Adding fuel stabilizer to your mower
- Fixing or replacing broken parts of your mower
Additionally, you should still continue to mow each month until the grass goes dormant for the season. But when that happens, put away the mower until spring. One thing you should not stop in winter is fertilizing.
High-phosphorus winter fertilizer strengthens and rejuvenates your grass in the cold months. Ideally, winter fertilizer should be applied around December, before the first frost of the year.
Pro lawn care tip: Lawn mowing in Austin should be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Mowing in the hot afternoon can damage the grass and weaken it. For optimum results, your grass should remain between 2 and 2.5 inches tall.
3. It’s Best to Fertilize in the Spring
The timing of your fertilizer isn’t something to be taken lightly. Most people think that the best time to fertilize your lawn in Austin is in early spring, but that’s only partially true.
Sure, spring is an ideal time to nourish your grass, but a single fertilization application won’t really do much for your lawn. You should establish a fertilization plan and stick to it.
There is no one-size-fits-all fertilization regimen because any particular schedule depends on the grass type you have and the condition of your lawn. For instance, Bermudagrass is common in Central Texas, and it requires multiple fertilization applications per year in the late spring and early fall.
4. Wearing Spiked Shoes Can Aerate Your Lawn
On the surface, spiked shoes seem like a good idea for quick and cheap aeration. But, while aeration is extremely important for your lawn, wearing spiked shoes will not actually do much.
These shoes may make tiny holes in your lawn, but that’s not enough to make a difference. They won’t be able to reduce the compaction of your soil, and they can actually make the compaction worse.
For best results from aeration, use a plug aerator, which you can buy or rent at most lawn and garden stores. This type of aerator pulls out plugs of soil that are longer and wider than the tiny spikes on aerator shoes. The large gaps left in the soil give your grass roots room to breathe and absorb vital nutrients and water.
Pro tip: You can use your spiked shoes not as a replacement for core aeration but as an effective way to kill grubs!
5. Lawns are Bad for the Environment
One of the most pervasive misconceptions about lawns is that they are bad for the environment. In reality, Texas lawns are actually very good for the environment and can provide many benefits, including:
- Preventing soil erosion
- Stabilizing dust
- Absorbing rainwater
- Reducing glare and noise pollution
- Improving & restoring the soil
- Trapping dust & smoke particles
Not only can grass lawns reduce emissions and help mitigate flooding, but they also can act as natural air conditioners since they absorb heat from the atmosphere and cool down the surroundings. Lawns can also pull carbon from the air and store it in their grass blades and root systems, making them a “net carbon sink.”
However, some lawn care practices can harm the environment. For example, gas-powered mowers, blowers, and trimmers release carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Furthermore, over-fertilizing can cause excess nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into natural waterways, resulting in algae blooms that are toxic to flora and fauna.
Eco-friendly lawn care tips: Here are some kinder lawn maintenance suggestions for a healthier environment:
- Mow thoughtfully: Select the optimum mowing height and consider using a mulching mower to return grass clippings to the lawn, which will act as a natural fertilizer.
- Build the soil: Consider adding organic compost to your lawn, which recycles nutrients, reduces fertilizer needs, and stores carbon in the soil.
- Skip the emissions: Utilize electric-powered equipment instead of gas-powered to minimize your lawn’s carbon footprint.
- Apply fertilizer thoughtfully: Consider using organic fertilizers, and only use them when you need to. Be sure not to apply too much, and clean up any excess from sidewalks, driveways, and other impervious surfaces.
FAQ About Austin Lawn Care Myths
There’s no one mistake that stands out above the rest, but some of the top contenders include:
● Over- or under-watering
● Using too much fertilizer
● Mowing too short or not often enough
● Forgetting to aerate and dethatch
● Not getting the fertilization schedule just right
All these can add up to an unhappy, unhealthy lawn.
Thanks to the warm climate in Austin, it’s easy to have a green lawn. To maintain it, you’ll need to put in some effort. Check out our complete guide to lawn care in Austin for a rundown of everything your lawn needs from you.
Several varieties of grass do well in Austin’s warm climate. Typical Austin grass types include St. Augustinegrass, Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, and ryegrass. Each type has its own challenges and benefits, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that’s best for your needs.
Weed control is an important part of lawn care in Austin. A homeowner can tackle their weed problem by using a combination of manual and chemical methods, such as applying herbicides to get rid of stubborn weeds. Always follow the instruction label on the herbicide container for the best results.
Final Thoughts on Austin Lawn Care Myths
Lawn care in Austin is a lot easier with the right knowledge in hand. Through proper maintenance, you can achieve great results and keep your lawn looking lush and healthy all year round. These misconceptions around lawn care can be damaging and costly, so make sure you’re armed with the truth.
Don’t be afraid to contact a local Austin lawn care company for professional help and advice when you get stuck. They know what works best for Austin lawns and how to keep yours looking gorgeous.