When it comes to curb appeal, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – what works in New England might not work so well in Texas. Landscaping plays a significant role in getting that "wow" factor, whether it's from neighbors driving by or potential buyers. Whether you're preparing to sell or just want your home to look its best, some general tips can help you achieve a beautiful lawn no matter where you live.
Landscaping that adds curb appeal starts with the proper foundation–knowing what to grow in the North-Central Texas environment. Once established, seasonal lawn care tips will keep your Fort Worth home looking its best year-round.
What to grow
Choosing the right turfgrass and landscaping plants goes a long way to keeping your lawn looking beautiful every season. We want plants tough enough for our climate. For those interested in smart landscaping, native plants and others from similar climates aid in water conservation, reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and reduce water runoff. Texas Smart Landscape has a list of drought-friendly plants and grasses.
In North-Central Texas, your best bet for lawn grasses in an urban area is Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, Texas bluegrass, or tall fescue. These grasses are best suited for our variable yet hot summer climate. In particular, Bermudagrass is drought-tolerant. It will go dormant until the rains return. However, it doesn't grow well in shady areas. Zoysia is a slow-growing grass that does well in shade areas.
For ground cover, try eastern redcedar, turk's cap, Asian jasmine, rockrose, and coralberry.
Shrubs like desert willow, tree cholla, Engleman's prickly pear, ash juniper, and Mexican elder also fare well in our climate and reduce the need for frequent watering.
Add shade to your yard and home with trees like slash pine, sawtooth oak, chinkapin oak, bur oak, southern magnolia, yucca, and honey mesquite.
The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension has a comprehensive list of thebest plants and trees to grow in our local landscapes.
What to know about the soil
The majority of the soil in North Texas is clay-based. Clay soils retain a lot of water, so you won't have to water your grass as often as you may believe (less than twice a week, even during the summer).
When dry, water runs off clay soil; when wet, the ground turns into a sponge. To properly water clay soils, first moisten the earth just enough to get it wet, then water more to allow it to soak up the moisture. Pre-wetting will help the soil absorb far more water.
Remember, watering your grass infrequently but deeply encourages it to develop a strong root system that helps it survive droughts.
Summer Lawn Care
Here in Texas, our hot climate means that we have to take special care of our lawns during all the seasons, but the summer months are especially challenging. July, August, and September are among the hottest months with the highest temperatures. If you want your grass to stay green and healthy during the heatwave, water it deeply and regularly. A good rule of thumb is to give your lawn about an inch of water per week.
Be sure to water as efficiently as possible to conserve resources and promote dense, healthy turfgrass growth. Water your Texas lawn in the early morning, before the sun has had a chance to evaporate any moisture that didn't soak into the soil. Water that remains on your grass overnight may lead to disease-causing fungi, which is counterintuitive to the whole point of watering in the first place: to keep your lawn healthy.
If warm-season grass goes without water for an extended period, it may enter summer dormancy. This means that the grass will cease to grow, become golden brown, and recovers in the late summer or early fall when additional water becomes accessible.
Putting your grass to sleep is an alternative when you don't want to water your lawn daily throughout 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. If you choose to do this, stop fertilizing because it's best to apply fertilizer products when turfgrass is actively growing, not dormant.
Lawn pests are active in the summer. The main three targets of brown or dying spots in otherwise healthy yards are bermudagrass mites, grubs, and chinch bugs.
Bermudagrass mites are particularly active in the summer and prefer hot climates. They cannot be seen without assistance. When an infestation is severe, they cause the grass to thin out and give it a tufted "witch's broom" appearance.
Turf-feeding grubs cause most turf damage during the summer and early fall. Grub damage is noticeable as irregular-shaped spots that resemble drought stress patches. Turfgrass may usually be pulled up and rolled back like new sod when grub infestations are severe. Animals (skunks, armadillos, possums) will start to dig up parts of your lawn if you have an infestation. Treating grubs requires careful timing. If insecticides are applied too late, it can severely reduce their efficacy.
Chinch bugs are a common summer problem on southern lawns. They can cause significant damage to St. Augustine grass, but they may also harm other types of turfgrass. Chinch bug damage is evident as irregular-shaped patches that gradually expand throughout the lawn. You could notice tufts of bermudagrass still standing in the center of dead or sparse St. Augustine if your yard has bermudagrass mixed in. Chinch bugs are easily visible without magnification, although they're somewhat tiny and difficult to detect without assistance.
Fall Lawn Care
Taking care now prepares your property to be healthy and vibrant in the spring. Fall is also when grasses and plants recover from the hot, drier summer months. Start preparing your lawn for the winter months by fertilizing it and mowing it regularly in the fall.
Fall (and winter) are excellent times to plant trees. Before being subjected to summer heat and dryness, trees require the chance to develop roots. Early planting before spring gives trees time to develop essential roots to survive hot summers. For this reason, trees planted now don't get transplant shock as much as summer-planted trees.
Turfgrass growth gradually slows, resulting in less irrigation and fertilization. However, your yard will be depleted of nutrients after the summer season. Your grass leaves may grow more slowly, but the roots are growing quicker. For the roots to obtain all the nutrients they require and to keep weeds at bay in the spring, apply a pre-emergent fertilizer in the fall.
Fall season is also ideal for aerating your lawn if you have cool-season grasses. Aerating now allows those fertilizers to reach the fast-growing root system better. September and early October are the best times to fertilize.
Fall is the right time for pre-emergent herbicide applications. These kill weeds while germinating, so weeds never sprout in your lawn. They work best when the soil temperature drops below 70F. You can prevent chickweed and henbit with these applications.
Keep regular watering until about mid-November, or when the temperatures start to drop. If your yard has cool-season grasses like tall fescue, it'll be more actively growing now. They need about one inch of water per week in the fall. Warm-season grasses like bermudagrass and zoysiagrass do tend to perform better.
Continue to rake your lawn and remove leaves. A thick leaf cover can block essential sunlight and water while making the grasses more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Mow until the grass stops growing. That will be mid-to-late October for warm-season grasses, while cool-season grasses will continue until late November or early December. Some recommend cutting grasses an extra inch shorter and collecting all lawn clippings to prepare for winter.
Remember to move dead weeds and plant material from your plant beds. These can harbor diseases and pests that could overwinter, attacking your plants the following spring. To keep the dirt warm through potential freezes, apply a fresh layer of mulch about 2 to 3 inches thick. Add manure, compost, and other soil supplements to the soil now so that they can decompose and improve the soil for spring.
Winter Lawn Care
Some people take a "winter vacation" from lawn care and landscape maintenance, assuming they won't need to fertilize, water, or mow it because the grass doesn't grow as fast during the Texas cold season. However, this isn't wholly accurate.
Your grass requires ongoing nutritional nourishment. It takes longer to bring back a dormant lawn than one that has been cared for all winter with occasional watering and a pre-emergent herbicide application.
Aim to water once every two-to-three weeks in winter. Occasional rainfalls may be enough to keep grasses healthy. Don't fertilize your lawn now.
You can skip mowing once your lawn has gone dormant or when temperatures drop below 50F. Remember to remove dead leaves and plant debris to reduce pests and diseases.
Tree pruning is also best done in the winter, as there are fewer pests and diseases to attack freshly trimmed areas. Prune trees between December 15 and February 1. Notably, avoid pruning oak trees from February 1 through June 1, when oak wilt issues are most likely to occur.
Remember to check your sprinkler system, especially the rain and freezer sensors. You want these to work properly so your yard is adequately watered and to prevent costly repairs in the spring.
Spring Lawn Care
Pre-emergent weed control is a treatment that is applied to your lawn before weeds can grow. Pre-emergent treatments aid in preventing crabgrass from getting to the soil and taking root.
Avoid cutting your grass too short, less than two inches. You might think this will give you more time between mowings, but grass cut too short is more prone to harm from harsh environmental factors. Grass that is sheared too short in Texas runs a heightened danger of being damaged by the hot, dry summer heat.
Texas lawns are most typically one of these three turf types: Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, and St. Augustine grass. Zoysia grass can be mowed at 1½ to 3 inches. Bermuda grass should be trimmed to a height of two inches. St. Augustine grass may be mowed down to a height of 2½-4 inches.
Alter the mowing schedule to match the rate your grass is growing, so you'll have to mow more frequently in early spring than in late summer.
Water twice to three times each week in the summer. However, excessive watering may be damaging. Lawn diseases can be induced by over-watering. Pay attention to the weather and adjust for heavy rains.
Take the time to inspect your lawn for areas that may need assistance. Look for thin or matted turf, brown patches, and other signs that the grass isn't thriving. There's always a cause behind it. When we discover lawn diseases early, they can usually be treated successfully, ensuring that your grass has the greatest potential of recovering and flourishing.
Aeration exposes soil plugs, which jar up thatch and loosen compacted earth so grassroots may develop. Aeration also aids in the absorption of fertilizer since treatments can now reach your lawn's root structure after it has been "unplugged." Aeration is best in the spring for warm-season grasses like Zoysia and Bermuda.
If you apply the aeration together with overseeing or fertilizer, they can rejuvenate your lawn.
Take measures to control seed growth in your yard and weed numbers in the summer by taking action now. Mowing and collecting clippings frequently throughout this period may assist in reducing weed populations.
A soil test will determine the nutrient levels in the soil and essential soil characteristics such as pH, which will influence nutrient availability. Testing is ideal before applying fertilizer to pinpoint your soil's specific needs. It's recommended to test at least once a year.
Consider including preemergence herbicides in your strategy if you have bluegrass, crabgrass, goosegrass, or other annual weeds in your lawn. Take note of any other landscaping plants. Wind, rain, and irrigation water may transport herbicide applications to undesirable locations. Read all warning labels carefully. Timing is important; most herbicides must be applied before weeds develop.
Do you have ornamental grasses in your yard? In February, cut back the stalks to 6 to 8 inches tall. The seed heads at the end of the stalks you remove will contain seeds. Scatter the seed heads to encourage more of that species.
Keeping Texas curb appeal
No matter what time of year it is, taking good care of your lawn will improve your curb appeal. So roll up your sleeves and get to work – your neighbors will be green with envy in no time!
Let Chicotsky Real Estate Group help you find the perfect Fort Worth home with abundant curb appeal. We're happy to provide tips on how to boost your curb appeal in any season.