If having an impeccable lawn is important to you, then North Texas lawn problems can be excruciatingly annoying.
Below we will talk about some of the most common problems you may experience in North Texas this Spring.
With the adverse weather conditions we have experienced in the past year or so, drought has actually been an issue.
Under normal weather conditions, drought typically occurs due to bad watering practices, but with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern affecting temperatures, drought struggles were real.
Drought stress occurs when rainfall or supplemental irrigation is insufficient to meet the turfgrass’s water requirements. As a result of this, the turfgrass may go into dormancy.
The turfgrass will devote its energy to protecting the root system, reducing the ability to produce new top growth. When there is an increase in the heat index and a lack of rainfall, the ability of turfgrass to recover is further reduced.
As mentioned on Texas A&M – Uncovering the Mystery Behind Turf Loss This Spring , “As soil dries out, the grass becomes stressed and more susceptible to damage from pests, diseases, and traffic.”
Download the full Texas A&M guide on turf loss to learn more >>
Lawn diseases are a common lawn issue in North Texas and can become even worse after drought stress. Most lawns are full of fungi spores, and normally that is not a problem.
However, if you think that discoloration is due to drought stress and you’re wrong, you could possibly overwater and make the ideal conditions for spores to spread.
Large Patch is caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani. This fungus and several related species are responsible for a variety of turfgrass diseases (such as Brown Patch and Yellow Patch) that can occur at any time on all grasses, with the exception of extremely cold winters.
This disease results in small reddish-brown or black lesions. Pull a few blades of your grass, and if the area where the leaf blade and stem meet is black, you may have Large Patch.
Take-All Root Rot
Take-all root rot is caused by the fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis. This fungus is found in many parts of Texas and can be found in both diseased-looking and seemingly healthy turfgrass.
The first sign that you have TARR is when your grass begins yellowing and then turns brown and wilts. If you notice this, take a look at the roots of the infected grass.
If they are short, black, and rotten, and it is easy to lift the stolons from the soil, you may have TARR.
Some pests, such as grub worms, are okay to have if the lawn is healthy and there are no animals damaging the lawn to get to them.
However, pests can do much more damage to a lawn with drought stress than one without, so if you find them, it is best to get rid of them.
Chinch Bugs (Blissus spp.)
Adult cinch bugs are approximately 3/16-inch long with black bodies and white wings. Nymphs that have just hatched are orange-red with a white band across their abdomens. Throughout their five growth stages, they typically change color from red to orange to black.
Cinch bugs feed on the grass surface, and their damage usually starts where the concrete meets the grass. To determine if you have chinch bugs, take a container such as a metal can and cut the top and bottom off.
Insert that can into the soil near where the damage is occurring. Fill that can with water and wait. If you do have chinch bugs, they will float to the top, confirming your diagnosis.
Grub Worms (Holotrichia spp.)
Adult beetles are commonly known as June bugs. They are reddish brown and are typically ½ to 5/8-inch long. White grubs are the larvae of these June bugs. They are c-shaped, approximately 1 inch long, and are mostly white except for their heads which are brown.
Grubs feed on the grass at its roots as well as organic soil matter that can cause sections of your lawn to die. To determine if you have grubs, lift a piece of your turf. If you’re able to pull up the grass and see that it has no roots or if it rolls up like a carpet, grubs are most likely the culprit.
Small or Large Damaged Areas
Any of the above problems that we mentioned can result in death to your lawn. If your lawn has areas of patchiness this late in the year, your grass is not in dormancy but rather most likely dead.
Small Damaged Space
If the area that is damaged is contained in one patch or a small area of multiple patches, grass plugs may be your best bet. Similar to sod, grass plugs come ready to plant.
Basically, a grass plug consists of a plug of soil, roots, and turf that you plant and then wait for it to spread, filling in the holes. Just make sure that you rectify the initial problem, or you’ll be doing this job twice.
Large Damaged Space
If the area that is damaged takes up the majority of your lawn, bad news. Your best bet here is to resod completely.
How To Prep
Perform a Soil Test
Regardless of whether you are using grass plugs or pallets of sod, you should always perform a soil test first to determine the soil’s pH levels.
Measure the Area
Next, measure the area to determine how many plugs or pallets you need per square foot.
Clear the Area
Clear the area of any rocks, weeds, grass, etc. You want to make sure the area is a clean slate to work with.
Then, if you’re using plugs, you can use an auger bit to drill holes into the ground where you will plant them.
Depending on the soil test you performed, fertilize the soil before planting the plugs to help the root system develop better.
Plant the Plugs
Plant the plugs into the holes, fill in around them with soil, and make sure the bases of the blades are level with the ground.
Lastly, soak the plugs in water and then water thoroughly every morning for the next two weeks. However, watch the weather. If it rains, you can skip. Additionally, do not mow the lawn until at least a month has passed.