Summer in Texas can be very hot and dry. July, August and September are among the hottest months with the highest temperatures. Here are some lawn care management tips from AggieTurf to help your lawn stay healthy throughout the summer. Subscribe to the Texas Lawn Companion email newsletter for lawn care tips from AggieTurf specialists throughout the year.
When watering your lawn, be sure to water as efficiently as possible to conserve resources and to promote dense, healthy turfgrass growth. To improve water-use efficiency, see the AgriLife Extension Water-Wise checklist.
If warm season turfgrass undergoes a prolonged period of drought, it can go into summer dormancy. This means that it will cease growth, turn a tan golden-brown color and then recover when water becomes available in the late summer or early fall. Allowing your grass to go dormant is an option when you don’t want to water on a regular basis during the hottest and driest weeks of summer.
Summer dormancy is contingent on your lawn’s ability to develop deep, healthy roots during periods of active growth. The practices listed in the Water-Wise checklist help encourage deep rooting, deep water infiltration and healthy turfgrass growth. If you choose to do this, stop fertilizing because it’s best to apply fertilizer products when turfgrass is actively growing, not dormant.
As fall approaches, remember that watering your lawn can have a significant impact on turfgrass diseases. As a rule of thumb, water early in the morning. Evening watering can prolong periods of leaf wetness and promote conditions for disease. Turfgrass growth starts to slow in the fall which means that less water and fertilizer are required.
During the hottest parts of summer, your lawn may not need to be mowed as often, especially if it is struggling with heat and drought stress. However, many summer weeds are flowering and producing seed. Take steps now to reduce seed populations in your landscape and reduce weed numbers in the spring. Frequent mowing and removal of clippings during this time can be helpful in managing weed populations.
For information on mowing heights, frequency, clipping return and more, see: Mowing Recommendations for Warm-Season Turfgrasses.
Continue to fertilize your lawn as needed to support health turfgrass growth. When there isn’t as much water to support growth, consider reducing or suspending the amount of fertilizer applications. Nutrient rates including phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) should be determined by a soil test. Soil tests will also help to identify important soil properties like pH, which will influence nutrient availability.
For information about soil testing, please visit the Texas A&M Soil Testing Lab website.
Three common lawn insects to be aware of during summer months are bermudagrass mites, grubs and chinch bugs.
Bermudagrass mites will thrive in hot temperatures and be very active during the summer. They are not visible to the naked eye. When severe infestation occurs, they will cause turfgrass to thin out and will create a tufted “witch’s broom” appearance.
There are several insecticide options for severe cases, but one effective tactic is to scalp the infested area and remove the grass clippings, physically displacing many of the mites.
Damage from turf-feeding grubs is most visible during summer and early fall. Grub damage appears as irregularly shaped patches resembling drought stress. When grub infestations are severe, turfgrass can often be pulled up and rolled back as if it were new sod. Another sign is that animals (skunks, armadillos, possums) will start to dig up areas of your lawn. Timing is important for treating grubs. Waiting too long can drastically reduce the effectiveness of lawn insecticides.
Chinch bugs are common summer pests in southern lawns. They cause the most damage to St. Augustine grass but can also affect other types of turfgrass. Chinch bug damage shows up as irregular-shaped patches that spread outward. If your yard has bermudagrass mixed in, you may notice tufts of bermudagrass still standing in the middle of dead or thinning St. Augustine. Chinch bugs are visible without magnification, but still somewhat small and sometimes hard to spot without help.
Two common turfgrass diseases during summer are Take-All Root Rot (TARR) and Gray Leaf Spot (GLS). For assistance with proper identification, contact your AgriLife Extension county agent or the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab. Be sure to properly identify a turfgrass problem before applying treatments.
Take-all Root Rot is usually the most active during spring and early summer but can be visible at any point during the growing season when turfgrass is under stress. Temperature extremes, poor water quality, drought, compaction, and even herbicide injury can all increase the likelihood that Take-all Root Rot will appear. Good cultural practices are especially important in preventing this disease.
Gray Leaf Spot is a foliar disease found on St. Augustine grass lawns during this point in the growing season. It is commonly found in shady, moist areas of a lawn. Control this disease by keeping the area mowed and aired out. Some St. Augustine grass varieties will be more sensitive, and in severe cases fungicides may be required.
There are many products available at local stores to treat weeds. However, the number of active ingredients used in those products is limited. Learn more about the ingredients to become more aware about what you need to buy.
Things to remember when choosing herbicides:
- Not all lawn products are safe to use on all lawns. What might be safe in your Bermudagrass lawn could significantly injure or even kill your St. Augustine grass lawn.
- Different active ingredients will target different types of weeds. Proper weed identification and thorough label reading will usually help you choose the right product.
- Incorporate preemergence herbicides into your program if you are dealing with bluegrass, crabgrass, goosegrass, or other annual weeds.
- Be mindful of your other landscape plants. Wind, rain, and irrigation water will move herbicide treatments to undesirable areas. Take time to read all cautionary statements on product labels.
- Timing is everything. Most herbicide products must be applied before weeds mature.
For more information about herbicide selection, please see the publication: A Homeowner’s Guide to Herbicide Selection for Warm-Season Turfgrass Lawns.
The information in this featured solution was adapted from lawn related articles written by Dr. Becky Grubbs in the Texas Lawn Companion email newsletter.
For more information, please visit: https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/