We've created the ultimate Southern lawn care guide. Read on for information on common Southern grass types, turf diseases, and insect control. Let this serve as your guide to getting a great lawn in the South.
Here at TruGreen, we believe a healthy lawn leads to a happy life. Besides family barbecues, picnics, and yard games, a healthy lawn is also an asset to the urban environment. In fact, a 2,500 square foot lawn can produce enough oxygen for a family of four and help reduce pollution in groundwater. But Southern lawns are subject to environmental stresses, opening the door for possible insect infestations and lawn diseases. Worry not. TruGreen is a partner in your quest for a healthy, lush lawn. If you reside in Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas, continue reading below for tips and details for what to expect from your Southern lawn each season, including some of the nuisances that you may encounter, with links to programs we offer to prevent or fix the lawn problems.
Types of grass in the South
The first step to a great lawn is knowing what kind of grass you’re growing. Common grasses found in Southern lawns include Tall Fescue, Zoysia, Bermuda, and St. Augustine, each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
- Dense, medium-fine texture
- Excellent heat and drought tolerance
- Rapid establishment and growth rate
- Coarse-textured turf
- Poor low-temperature tolerance
- Can enter dormancy and discolor in winter months
- Produces heavy thatch
- Drought and heat tolerance
- Deep root system
- In areas of shade, it can thin out and require overseeding
- Can be slow to recover from injury
- Dense, tough turf
- Good heat and drought tolerance
- Better cold tolerance than most warm-season grasses
- Slow to establish
- Becomes dormant and browns during winter months
To get a lawn you’ll love, some preventative and reactionary efforts will need to be made by you as the homeowner, as well as by your dedicated TruGreen specialist. The below topics should be considered as you work with your specialist to make your lawn the best on the block.
Types of Weeds in the South
If weeds are present on your lawn, you may begin to notice visible results within days or weeks of your first service. If your lawn is changing colors or beginning to show bare spots, don’t be alarmed -- this is OK, in fact, this is good! Changing colors and bare spots are a normal sign that those pesky weeds are dying out, allowing your grass to have more space and nutrients. As your TruGreen specialist continues working over the following weeks, your lawn’s appearance will continue to improve. Keep an eye for the following weeds that are commonly found in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Crabgrass is an annual warm-season weed. This means it thrives in the heat and will sprawl anywhere it can find sunlight, water, and bare soil. A crabgrass invasion can quickly get out of control if you’re not careful. The TruGreen Lawn Care program can help limit the spread of this difficult-to-control weed, but you can also help by keeping up with proper prevention techniques and regular maintenance. Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn, mowing your grass at the proper height, and avoiding light or excess watering are some of the steps you can take to help prevent a crabgrass invasion.
The spurge family includes fast-growing summer weeds that grow low to the ground. Spurge is known as a prolific seed producer, and plants mature in just a few days during hot weather, especially in the South.
As a kid, you may have enjoyed picking the little white flowers that come along with clover. But as an adult, if you find clover in your yard, you’re probably not picking it for fun. Clover is a perennial weed that can vary in leaf shape and flower color, and grows well in moist areas.
Originating from Uruguay and Argentina, Dallisgrass is a perennial weed that has a yellow-green shade to it. It is found throughout the Southern states and produces many seeds which can spread via waterings, lawn mowers, humans, and pets. Signing up for a plan with pre-emergent weed control can help to control this weed before it becomes a problem.
Henbit in an annual weed that produces trumpet-shaped, purple flowers. This weed shies away from thick, robust turf, so the best strategy for eliminating this weed is to keep up on the health and maintenance of your grass. If you have an outbreak of henbit, it’s best to deal with it in early spring while the plants are still young and more vulnerable to pre-emergent herbicides.
Annual bluegrass, also known as Poa annua, is a very invasive and hard-to-eliminate weed. It can be identified by its boat-shaped blade tips and apple-green color. Keep an eye for this weed in winter months, as it grows best in cool, moist weather and will brown out and die under hot, dry conditions.
Rescuegrass is an annual and perennial weed that produces yellow flowers and grows in bunches. It often germinates in the fall. A fall pre-emergent application is advised, but as this weed can germinate into winter, a second application may be needed later in the fall around November.
For fighting common lawn diseases in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, consider TruGreen’s TruHealth Lawn Plan, which provides protection, essential nutrients, and balanced soil to your lawn.
For fighting common lawn pests in the South, consider TruGreen’s TruShield Lawn Pest Control, which can significantly reduce the number of pests in your yard, or Mosquito Defense, which can eradicate biting mosquitoes from your property.
How to care for your Southern lawn each season
Your yard’s needs will change month-to-month and season-to-season. And while your TruGreen specialist will help maintain your lawn’s health, there are still components of lawn care that you as the homeowner will need to watch and care for. The tips below will help you stay on track for a lush, healthy yard.
- Water your lawn at the first signs of drought stress, and continue watering through the season. Signs of drought stress include thin, brown, and folding grass.
- Mow frequently, but only 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.
- Taller grass is more drought-tolerant, so water according.
- If you start to notice weeds such as crabgrass and dallisgrass, call your TruGreen specialist.
- Fire ants hit the peak of their activity over the summer. If you start to see these stinging pests around your home, ask your specialist about fire ant control.
- As summer turns to fall, be careful not to overwater. Overwatering favors lawn diseases such as brown patch.
- As the weather begins to cool, cut back on watering frequency.
- Mow less often.
- Shred fallen leaves into the grass to provide organic matter.
- Replace the blades of rotary lawn mowers and lower them.
- After lowering your mower blades at the end of fall, mow your grass shorter to prevent fungal disease from spreading.
- If you use an irrigation system, reprogram it to water less during the winter.
- Expect your warm-season grass to slow its growth.
- Take time to prep your mower, check oil, driver belt, and blades. Watch our video below to see tips for transitioning your mower from fall to winter:
- Water your lawn thoroughly once every two weeks if there is no precipitation...but be careful to not overwater.
- Watch for winter grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds such as dandelion or thistle in between your treatments. If you see spot them, give your TruGreen specialist a call.
- As winter comes to an end, check that mower blades are sharpened and mower is in good condition.
- Lower your mower height one setting to remove any overwinter foliage and promote spring green-up.
- Take a look at your sprinkler system before hot weather arrives. Need a professional tune-up? Check out TruGreen’s sprinkler repair and maintenance plan.
- If your lawn has thatch developing, an aeration service could be beneficial.
- Water each zone with about an inch per week in the absence of rainfall. Wondering what an inch of water looks like? Check out our watering tips video below:
- If your lawn begins to develop bare spots, ask your TruGreen specialist for lawn plug options.
- If you notice weeds starting to develop, talk to your TruGreen specialist about pre-emergent options.
Together, we can make great-looking turf year-round
In the South, your yard has to battle some hot summer temperatures. We can team up to apply seasonally appropriate pre- and post-emergent weed treatments, as well as fertilizer to stimulate your lawn’s color and growth and to help fortify it against extreme weather. To achieve a healthy lawn, we ask that you receive regular service visits, and follow the guidelines outlined above to help you achieve the best results possible. If you’re not signed up yet for regular services, click here to find a local branch near you or fill out the green box on the left to get a personal quote today.