Fall is time to get lawn in shape for spring


Definitely don't pay a yard company to get your yard ready for the spring because you just have to follow a few easy steps and purchase the right products all around $20.

In a west Houston neighborhood, we found rows and rows of homes with lawns that have been devastated by the drought.

"This has been the first year that it has grown this way," said homeowner Ed Wyatt.

Some lawns still have a fighting chance; other lawns are completely dead.

"It's been horrible," said another homeowner.

So if you are one of the homeowners that has both patches of dead grass and green grass, that's actually good news.

"With the proper care, we can have that filled back in without out a lot of additional expense if you are trying to save money," said Skip Richter with the Texas Agrilife Extension Service.

So tip number one: don't re-sod.

Richter says if your grass looks like this, expect it to fill in next spring.

If your lawn is bare with dead grass and you want to re-sod, wait until the spring because new grass must be watered every day for several weeks.

"So if I was limited on budget I would personally wait until spring. Once chance of frost has passed and sod is available," said Anthony Camerino.

Tip number two: you should fertilize.

"After all our lawns have been through with the drought, sometimes disease and insects added to it, they are in a spot where they can use a little bit of help," Richter said.

A good fertilizer choice is Nitro Phos for $24.99. But if you have a lot of dead grass, skip the fertilization this year because that will bring on the weeds.

"What will happen is all those bare areas that were killed with drought, their weed seeds are waiting to grow and they will thank you for the fertilizer and you will be dealing with a different problem," said Richter.

Tip number three: watch for brown patches

It's a fungal lawn disease that pops up with cool nights and moist soil. So don't over-water and don't over-fertilize.

"If you start to see a brown patch appear, there are fungicide treatments that you put on it to shut it down right then," Richter said.

One to look for is Scott's Fungus Control for $19.99.

Finally, if you are looking for a green lawn this winter, you may consider winter rye.

"All you have to do with the rye grass is spread it evenly over the area and keep it watered," said Aaron Moore with Southwest Fertilizer.

The price for winter rye ranges rye from $8.29 for a 10-pound bag to $18.99 for the top of the line rye.

If you do spread winter rye, keep in mind that it is an investment -- you will have to water, mow and apply additional fertilizer.

Unless you want winter rye for appearances, experts say it's best to give your St. Augustine grass a break during the winter months.

Avoid weed-and-feeds especially those with atrazine. Tree and shrub roots are desperate for nutrients, and atrazine will burn roots in no time and kill your trees and bushes.

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