It’s finally time to make plans for fall lawn care in West Texas

Some in the Concho Valley have been lucky to receive a bit of rain recently, but San Angelo is still pretty dry. We will keep hoping and praying though! The days are getting shorter, and temperatures are going down bit by bit, and fall is (thankfully) on the way. It’s time to make plans for fall lawn care to try and keep the turfgrass healthy and strong so it goes through winter dormancy in good shape and greens up well next spring.

First is the decision of whether or not to fertilize. Nitrogen fertilizer can be tough on plants that are heat and drought stressed, so don’t fertilize unless you’ve been watering adequately to maintain active, green grown, or wait until it rains and cools down a bit more; either way, get it done by early October to not promote too much new growth too close to winter.

There have been many questions lately regarding planting new grass. If starting from seed, late spring through early summer is the best window for planting warm-season turfgrass such as Bermuda, so now is not the recommended time. Cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye are not generally recommended in the Concho Valley because they do not hold up well enough through the summer. Sod can be planted just about any time of year with careful care and attention, but it’s best to get it planted in the spring, or early fall to give it time to establish well and then go dormant before cold, winter temperatures come along.

If St. Augustine grass is struggling or there has been a history of take-all root rot disease causing large areas of the lawn to turn yellow and then die back, treat every fall and spring to reduce damage and prevent the fungal disease. If just starting to exhibit mild symptoms or to maintain healthy St. Augustine, top dress with one to two bales of sphagnum peat moss per thousand square feet and apply a micronutrient fertilizer containing manganese. If there are areas damaged by the disease, also treat with a turf fungicide containing azoxystrobin (such as Heritage or Scott’s DiseasEx).

Consider applying pre-emergent in healthy, well-established lawns to prevent cool season annual weeds such as rescuegrass and henbit. Wait until soil temperature cools down to about 70 degrees for several days before applying pre-emergent in the fall, that usually happens in the latter half of September or early October. For a more in-depth guide to applying pre-emergent for the lawn, visit https://tomgreen.agrilife.org/horticulture/ and click on “Pre-Emergence Herbicides.” Read the label carefully and follow all directions for product rate and application instructions.

Join us for the annual Fall Landscaping Symposium offered by the Concho Valley Master Gardeners on Saturday, Sept. 10 – for info and to register, visit https://txmg.org/conchovalley/. There is a great lineup of speakers, including a session on lawn care. Don’t miss out!

Allison Watkins is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for horticulture in Tom Green County. Contact her at [email protected]

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