1. Weed control is critical.
The proper pre-emergent application will stop the winter weeds. Any escapes can be treated after germination. Pre-Emergent is a chemical that is used before weed seed germination. Early application, before September 30th, will control your winter weeds that come from seed.
Asking for help wherever you buy your turf products is critical. Make sure the weeds you are after are on the label and put out at label rate. The incorrect rate will result in very poor weed control. If you do have some weeds that were not controlled for some reason, make sure you seek a professional opinion when trying to control them. Not all chemicals are labeled for all types of turf.
2. Apply a low Nitrogen Fertilizer to reduce the probability of Brown Patch.
Nitrogen is the first number in your fertilizer analysis on the bag.
A Fall fungus that is problematic is Brown Patch. Brown patch loves highly fertilized turf. Using a lower percent of Nitrogen, 9 or less will help to prevent Brown Patch from happening. Brown patch loves cool damp nights. When soil temperatures get below 75 degrees, and there is adequate moisture from irrigation or mother nature, Brown Patch can occur. Brown Patch is a soil born fungus. When the conditions are right, cool damp nights, the possibility exist for Brown Patch to occur. A preventative can be applied before the conditions occur. Watching your weather report will give you a good indication of soil temperature because the soil temp and the Beach Water temp at Galveston are just about the same for the Houston area
3. Applying fertilizer that has an elevated Phosphorous and Potassium content will strengthen your root system.
Phosphorous and Potassium are the second and third numbers in your fertilizer analysis. Make sure these two chemicals 2x the Nitrogen number and you will be promoting root growth and your plants will be stronger and healthier once spring gets here.
4. Irrigation is still critical during the cooler months.
Evaporation and evapotranspiration will be lower during the shorter days so watering will be minimal. Applying 1/2 to 3/4 inches of water every ten days should be adequate.
A tip to determining watering rates.
Place stable flat containers in your lawn area. Run your irrigation for a set time and then measure the amount of water collected in your containers. Place the container on a level flat surface and use a ruler to measure the water. Adjust the times of your system accordingly.
5. Rid your yard of bugs before they hibernate.
An early application of insecticide will rid your turf of grubs, bill bugs etc. before the cooler weather sends them into hibernation. That way you will not have a battle with insects once the spring warm up arrives.
It is critical that the bugs you are after are on the label. Make sure and follow the manufactures rate recommendations. Ask for help and read the label. This is very important.
6. Mow for healthier turf.
Mow your grass every week until the growth rate is slowed by cooler weather. After that mow at least every 10 days to keep your turf manicured. This will allow adequate air circulation and reduce the possibility of fungus.
Mowing height should be determined by variety of grass. Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant during the growing season.