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ACTIVITIES THAT BENEFIT OUR LAWN AND OTHERS THAT DONT
There are activities that benefit our lawns now, and other things that just waste our time and resources.Winter weeds are very obvious. The grasses such as bluegrass, rye, and rescuegrass are making some lawns look pretty good. Mow them every two weeks and the lawn looks as good as our permanent grasses. Other weeds such as dandelions, clover, henbit, and thistles are not quite as attractive. They are also controllable with mowing and, if they really bother you, can be killed with Weed-Be-Gone. Read the label will and follow the directions faithfully.Do not fertilize the lawn now. Our permanent grasses (St. Augustine, Bermuda, buffalo, and zoysia) are not functioning actively enough to utilize the nutrients. The fertilizer benefits the weeds or is wasted. Fertilize the grass in April or May, after you have mowed real grass two times.In February the pre-emergent herbicides should be applied to control summer weeds. AMAZE, Balan, Betasan, and others applied next month will prevent germination of hot weather weeds. Weed and feed products are not recommended anytime. You are either wasting the herbicide or the fertilizer. They are formulated for the North.Like fertilization, watering the lawn in cold weather is a waste of resources. The soil already has good moisture levels, there is no growth occurring and the water will not speed green-up. All the irrigation accomplishes in January or February is to encourage the weeds, raise your water bill, and determine that you will have a high sewer bill all next year. The sewer bill is determined by your water bill in the winter months.
If you are in the mood to work in the yard, winter is the time to aerate and top dress. Rent an aerator (share with a neighbor for best value) that cuts plugs from the lawn. The aeration holes allow moisture and air to reach the roots. Add half an inch of compost to the grass and it will infiltrate the aeration holes. Compost channels to the roots allow air and water to penetrate, plus provide sites for nutrients and encourage beneficial microorganisms. The overall effect is a greener, healthier lawn.
You can have one of the organic material suppliers (Keller Material, Fertilize Garden Supply, Garden-Ville, Living Earth Technology, and others) deliver the compost and spread it with a shovel. One cubic yard will cover 650 square feet of lawn. The compost cost about $125 for five cubic yards delivered.
I saw a new technology last week at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission/San Antonio Water System compost program. The company Oak Hills Top Soil & Mulch (1-830-816-2030) had a machine that spread compost on the lawn. It worked like a vacuum cleaner in reverse. They said they charge about $40/cu. yd. for materials and to spread the compost. It worked well and the price sounds right.
The live oak leaves have started to fall. Like the compost, they are a valuable resource, do not waste them. The easiest way to utilize the leaves is to let them decompose on the lawn. Speed the process up by running the lawn mower over them. Chopped leaves disintegrate quickly to return nutrients and organic material to the soil.