By Dr. Robert Moon
Many of you have to be frustrated with the appearance of your turf this spring. Our winter was not kind to many of our plant materials and it was also hard on turf. Freeze damage on turf is causing a slow green-up this spring. This winter, the quick change from warm weather to freezing temperatures with no time for a slow transition and then the length of the freeze, killed turf tissue. Once that happens, it can take weeks and even months for the grass to recover.
If your turf is brown and struggling, you need to put it on life support! Once the cool night temperatures finally exit, the grass will begin to recover more quickly since it is a warm season grass.
If there is 50 to 70 percent of your turf that is still green and trying to recover, control the weeds growing in the turf with a post-emergent weed control for southern grasses. Fertilize the grass every 2 to 4 weeks for two applications with a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen to help the grass begin growing vigorously. Nitrogen will be the first number on the fertilizer bag. Once the grass greens up, cut back on the fertilizer to every 6 to 8 weeks for the rest of the growing season. If you applied a pre-emergent weed control in February such as Preen or Halts, apply again in May and September. This will protect the turf from weeds that will continue to germinate. If you did not apply in February, apply now and then again in September.
If your turf has less than 50 percent green, recovery will take longer. Fertilize and control weeds the same as above. If you still have dead areas in your turf after following the above fertilization schedule, at the end of July or first of August, you may want to re-sod those areas that have not recovered. If the brown appearance makes you impatient, you can sod anytime once night temperatures begins to stay in the 70’s.
The good news is that we live in Texas and warm temperatures will be here soon to stay for a few months and your turf will respond to the heat!