If you want to transform your patchy brown lawn into a lush green one, you must fertilize it at the right time.
The good news is that fertilizing your lawn is not a difficult task.
Along with some tips for a lush lawn this season, I will also share some fertilizer recommendations.
So, when to fertilize lawn in Texas? Here’s everything you need to know.
When to Fertilize Lawn in Texas:
How often you fertilize your lawn depends on different factors. For example:
- Type of fertilizer
- Grass type
So, let’s dive straight into this topic with this step-by-step guide.
Overview: Do not force your grass to “wake up” by fertilizing in early spring. Instead, apply liquid pre-emergent when the ground temperature reaches 55°F for 4-5 consecutive days. Then, give your grass a fertilizer boost in late spring. If I talk about Bermuda and St. Augustine grass (the most popular grass types in Texas), fertilize for the first time 3 weeks after the grass turns green. Then, fertilize in May and July as summer is the peak growing period. A final application in September (4-6 weeks before the first frost sets in) will prepare your lawn for winter.
Let me explain this in detail.
Early Spring: DO NOT Force Your Grass To “Wake Up”
First of all, I want you to take a look at this growth curve for warm-season grasses.
What do you notice?
Yes! Summer is the peak growing season.
The thing is that early spring is not the ideal time to fertilize your lawn. This is because most of the warm-season grasses in Texas are coming out of that “dormancy” stage.
Therefore, you do not want to force your grass to “wake up”.
Plus, the Nitrogen in the fertilizer (growth stimulant) can lead to unwanted weed growth.
Then, what is the first step toward a healthy lawn?
Step 1: Apply Liquid Pre-Emergent:
To prevent weeds from germinating and developing in your lawn, liquid pre-emergent is what you need.
The best time is when the ground temperature reaches 55°F for 4-5 consecutive days. So, I perform the first application in late February (or early March).
Then, there’s a second application in early to mid-June and a third one in early to mid-September.
Now, here’s a thing.
As Texas is a large state, the pre-emergent timing varies from region to region. So, let me break this down for you.
|1. North Texas||Spring: March 1-March 15|
Summer: June 1–June 15
Fall: September 1–September 15
|2. West Texas||Spring: Late February to early March|
Summer: May 25–June 10
Fall: Early to mid-September
|3. South Texas||Spring: Mid-February to early March|
Summer: May 15–June 1
Fall: September 15–September 30
So here’s the summary.
The first pre-emergent application should be in the spring (late February to early March).
The second application, roughly 3 months after the first, is recommended. Finally, a third application in Fall (soil temperature drops to 70℉) is essential to get rid of the fall weeds.
This takes us straight to the next step.
Step 2: Fertilize in Late Spring:
The active growing period for warm-season grasses in Texas is late spring and summer.
So, the first fertilizer application should be in late spring.
Bermuda and St. Augustine are the most popular grass types in Texas. So, let’s take a look at each of them.
(I will talk about other grass types as well).
It is a warm-season grass that produces dense turf.
It is popular in Texas due to its superior traffic tolerance, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, and low disease potential.
According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the first fertilizer application should take place in April or May.
This is the time when your Bermuda grass is actively growing and it has been mowed 2-3 times. In this way, you will ensure that the fertilizer is not wasted on grass that is not yet active.
The average temperature (highs) varies from 80-86℉ here in Central Texas.
My second granular fertilizer application takes place in July. In South or Central Texas, the average highs are 95℉.
Now, you can use these temperature figures for comparison.
The third (final) fertilizer application takes place in September after the peak summer heat. Remember that it is never a good idea to fertilize drought-stressed grass.
Now the question is, what fertilizer to use?
The thing is that there is no universal fertilizer that will work for every Bermuda lawn.
This is because every lawn is different. To determine the nutrient status of your soil, a soil test is what you need.
In this way, you can select an appropriate fertilizer for your lawn.
For the best application rates, read the packaging. Generally, 0.5 to 1 lb of N per 1,000 ft2 is required during the growing season.
This takes us to the St. Augustine Grass.
St. Augustine Grass:
It is popular in Texas as it grows well in (nearly) all soil types. Plus, it tolerates heat, shade and salt well.
As the Texas Agricultural Extension Service suggests, the first fertilizer application takes place 3 weeks after the grass turns green.
Till now, you will have mowed the grass 2-3 times. This is because the mowing program begins as soon as the grass begins to turn green in the spring.
In South Texas, you can throw down some fertilizer in late March (daily high temperatures average 74°F). Then, my second granular fertilizer application will be in May when the average high temperature is 86°F.
As I mentioned earlier, warm-season grasses (such as Bermuda and St. Augustine) show the most growth in summer. So, my third application takes place in July.
A final application in September will prepare your grass for dormancy (thanks to the potassium in the fertilizer). The idea is to stop 4-6 weeks before the first frost sets in.
The table below summarises this information:
|1. Spring (March-May)||Fertilize 3 weeks after the grass turns green. Till now, you will have mowed the grass 2-3 times.|
|2. May and July||Fertilize for the second time in May when the average (high) temperature is 86°F. Then fertilize in July.|
|3. September||This will prepare your grass for dormancy. The idea is to stop 4-6 weeks before the first frost sets in.|
After fertilizing, you should water your lawn properly. This will “activate” the fertilizer, providing nutrients to your lawn.
Additional Tip (optional): Broadcast Ironite (if you want it greener) – Summer
As the name suggests, ironite (a nutrient supplement) is high in iron content.
This iron supplement will help your lawn to become green and strong.
The best thing?
The ironite formulas also include essential micro-nutrients such as manganese. Now, let me talk about some other grass types as well.
This warm-season grass is also popular in Texas. This is because it is heat and drought-tolerant.
Zoysia grass turns brown in winter. But, it stays green for more time than the other warm-season grasses.
To fulfill the nitrogen requirement, NPK 30-0-4 is recommended. Here’s when to fertilize zoysia grass:
Fertilizer should be applied in 3-6 applications, starting from spring “green up”. If you apply Nitrogen early, frost may damage the grass.
If you have not conducted a soil test, you can use NPK 15-0-5, 15-0-15, and 15-0-10. This is because excessive phosphorus can lead to deficiencies in iron and zinc.
To recap, N-P-K shows the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Here is why these nutrients are important for your lawn.
- Nitrogen: It gives your grass a vibrant green color. In case of nitrogen deficiency, grass will have stunted growth and will lack that deep green color.
- Potassium: It helps with drought resistance by reducing water loss.
This is because it is responsible for the movement of water, carbohydrates, and nutrients.
Related Questions About Texas Lawn:
Now, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions related to fertilizing lawns in Texas.
Is it better to fertilize before or after rain?
It’s better NOT to apply fertilizer before heavy rainfall because the fertilizer will get washed away.
Generally, you should wait for at least one day after rain because the grass should be dry before your fertilizer application.
If only light or moderate rainfall is expected, then you can fertilize before rain as well. In this case, the light rainfall will “water in” the fertilizer.
Is it best to fertilize in the morning or afternoon?
I will recommend you apply fertilizer in the morning due to the cooler temperatures.
After spreading the fertilizer, water it in.
Early evening or late afternoon is also a good time of the day. This is because fertilizing in high temperatures (direct hot sunlight) can cause burning.
Can I fertilize my lawn in winter?
You should not fertilize your lawn in winter.
This is because the grass is not actively growing. So, it will not take up the nutrients.
Is centipede grass good for Texas?
This is warm-season turf grass. This means that its growing season starts in late spring, and continues throughout summer.
It performs best in acidic soils found in East Texas. The best part?
It requires little maintenance in terms of mowing and fertilization.
For centipede grass, the best time for fertilizer application is a few weeks after “green up“.
Note: The beginning of the growing season is known as “green up”.
Remember that centipede grass does not require a high amount of fertilizer.
You can use a phosphorus-free fertilizer, such as 15-0-15, as high phosphorus can decrease iron levels.
Is buffalo grass good in Texas?
It is a good warm-season lawn grass with strong turf and cold resistance.
Drought tolerance, disease resistance, and its lush green color make it popular in Texas.
It requires much less water than St. Augustine. But, it cannot handle excessive foot traffic and shade.
Agriculture in Texas:
Land and Soil:
In the southeast, we have fertile and densely populated coastal plains.
In the same way, we have mountains and high planes in the northwest and west.
Do you know that Texas has the highest agricultural revenue after California? Now, let’s talk about soil.
You can find different types of soils in Texas:
East Texas: Tan and grey topsoil cover the red subsoil.
Upper and middle Texas coast: The soil is loamy or black clay.
Southern Texas: Sandy soil.
Note: The soil color indicates the presence of minerals and organic matter content. The table below will help you understand this:
|Soil Colour:||Soil characteristics:|
|Red||Shows good drainage and high organic matter.|
|Brown||Shows moderate organic matter and iron oxides.|
|Black||Shows a high level of organic matter.|
|Green or Grey||Shows poor drainage, waterlogging, and lack of air in the soil.|
To summarise, you will find sandy, tan-colored, and red soils in the western North Central Plain.
Plus, we have reddish and dark brown clay loams and sandy loams in high planes (to the west).
All this is extremely important to know because the soil will determine the type of fertilizer you use.
Now, let’s talk about the climate of Texas to better understand this topic.
Climate of Texas:
This topic will help you understand the fertilization process.
So let’s get straight into it.
- In the northwest, the climate is continental. Can you guess what this means?
This means that there is moderate precipitation, mostly in the warmer months. In simple words, continental climates have great temperature variations.
- The climate in other areas is subtropical.
Note that a humid subtropical climate refers to humid, hot summers and mild winters.
In the lowlands, the temperature is usually high.
If we move to the East, the weather is muggy (unpleasantly warm and humid). There are similar conditions along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Moving to the West, the weather gets drier. And, it gets less hot at high altitudes.
Throughout the year, the temperature varies from 39°F to 96°F.
Do you know that the highest temperature ever recorded in Texas was 120 degrees?
So you have to remember this before fertilizing your lawn in Texas.
Now, let’s talk about fall.
During this time, Texas experiences plenty of sunshine.
You should know that the temperature can reach 70 to 75 degrees in October.
Moving on, note that winter can be crucial for your lawn.
In the northwest, winter is mild. But, your lawn can experience short bursts of cold air as well.
In the central-southern part, snowfall is rare. Note that the lowest temperature ever recorded in Texas was -23 degrees.
This was not a good period for lawns, right?
Rainfall and Sunshine:
As I mentioned above, rainfall is extremely important.
It helps to flush the roots. As a result, roots take up fresh nitrogen.
Here’s what you should know.
- The western part of Texas is arid.
But, the eastern part is rainy. The rainfall can exceed 1200 mm (47 inches).
In the central belt, you will find 750 to 850 mm (29.5 / 33.5 inches) of rainfall per year. This includes cities like Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, etc.
Note that hurricanes can bring abundant rainfall. The hurricane season runs from June to November.
- The western part of Texas receives the most sunshine (around 3750 hours of sunshine per year.)
The northwest receives 3300 hours of sunshine.
The southeastern part is the least sunny (around the Gulf of Mexico). It receives 2600 hours of sunshine per year.
Note: Sunshine encourages strong growth and allows the grass to process nutrients.
Amazing, isn’t it?
If you want a lush and healthy lawn, you must fertilize it at the right time.
So, when to fertilize lawn in Texas?
Fertilize in late spring. For Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, fertilize for the first time 3 weeks after the grass turns green.
Then, fertilize in May and July as summer is the peak growing period. A final application in September (4-6 weeks before the first frost sets in) will prepare your lawn for winter.
Now I turn it over to you. Which part of this topic did you enjoy reading the most?
Do let me know. And if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. Stay tuned for more.
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