Some truisms exist in hot and humid Texas, and one is that trees in a landscape will eventually shade the yard. If the ground cover is grass, it must be shade tolerant, or you will have some shade, bare ground, and mud. A typical lawn is St Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum). Moreover, It’s a warm, shady, grassy season that does not tolerate freezing temperatures. Traditional and organic gardeners need wintering strategies for Augustine grass, even in Texas.
St Augustine Grass
St Augustine’s Grass provides a lush, green lawn with coarse, broad blades. It is also recommended for Hardiness Zones 8 through 10 of the Department of Agriculture. Also, The grass spreads quickly through the stolons to form a lush pitched lawn swiftly. It is shade tolerant and easily removed from garden beds. Impenetrable borders prevent stolons from invading gardens. In Texas, it is not true north of Fort Worth or Dallas.
Care In The Year
Healthy lawns, fortunately, require minimal wintering. Higher mowing heights help prevent germination of weed seeds that like the sun. The recommended heights for shaded grass are 3 inches. They should, however, be increased by 1/2 inch in the fall or in September and October. Also, the grass accumulates energy for winter dormancy and spring growth during the fall. As a result, forms in higher, denser blades. Unfortunately, St Augustine has minimal tolerance to drought conditions. It also requires more water, especially in direct sunlight.
Heights Of Mowing
Many theories exist on the height and frequency of mowing for St Augustine grass. In general, when summer temperatures are warm, and the lawn is in full sun, higher heights shade stolons and reduce water requirements. A mowing height of 2 ½ inches requires a mowing program of seven to 10 days. If you mow more than 2 ½ inches, the intervals extend from 10 to 14 days. Thin layers of organic compost added in the spring improve the vigor of grasses.
Pre-emergence herbicides to control annual winter weeds should be applied when the average soil temperature drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent seeds from germinating and do not kill existing plants. Healthy, healthy St Augustine lawns rarely need pre-emergence treatment. Organic gardeners should consider corn gluten. The corn gluten is a popular pre-emergent treatment to prevent clover. It also prevents other cold-season weeds.
The green and growing grass of St Augustine indicates that it is still active and produces energy. When it turns brown at the end of autumn, the grass has become dormant. Continue to water with a regular program of an average of 1 inch of water per week. Warm, windy, winter days are not uncommon and dry the grass. If it shows signs of wilting or if a frost threatens, water to protect the turf.
Doug Welsh, Texas, a professor and horticultural extensionist, recommends in his book, “Texas Garden Almanac,” to wait until fertilizer is applied till this warm season grass stops growing – usually in October. If you did not have to mow for two weeks in the fall, the grass stopped growing. His recommendations include the use of a 2-1-2 or 1-0-1 fertilizer with the nitrogen portion. That’s, however, a combination of fast and slow forms, applied at a rate of 1 pound per 1,000 feet square.