A lot of lawns look pretty dismal right now. The only green creeping through may be dandelions and henbit.
Things may get better or they may not, Texas A&M turfgrass specialists say.
It’s still a little early to predict whether grass was killed off by the winter storm or will recover given a little time and good weather.
Bermuda and zoysia which likely were already dormant may be fine, it just may take a little longer for them to start growing this up this year.
St. Augustine is more susceptible to extreme cold and may have suffered more damage.
That pretty layer of snow may have been the saving grace for Texas lawns.
The snow actually works as an insulator, keeping roots just below the ground at or near freezing temperatures. That little bit of warmth may determine what grass revives and what doesn’t. The soil already was damp, and that also helped.
It could be early summer until the extent of the damage is known. Until then just be patient.
Normally, at this time of year spring lawn rituals begin. Homeowners would be putting out pre-emergent herbicides to keep weeds down, followed by a spring fertilizer. This year, skip the pre-emergent and the fertilizer.
If you do need to repair or replace grass, pre-emergent herbicides may keep them from growing properly. If weeds become a problem later an appropriate herbicide may be used, or old-fashioned weed pulling may be in order.
Now, leave the weeds, especially those with small flowers, to feed the bees. Some of the regular early pollinating plants that provide spring nourishment may have died back this year, leaving bees without pollen.
Grass struggling to break out of dormancy may be overwhelmed by regular fertilizer. It would be better to wait until the lawn is fully greened up.
Spreading a half-inch to one-inch layer of compost across the lawn to help it recover is a good way to help bring the green back.
With lawns thin and soil easy to get to, it’s a good time to get soil tested so you’ll know exactly what’s needed when you do fertilize. Testing is available through the Texas A&M soil lab. Get instructions on preparing the samples and cost at soiltesting.tamu.edu.
You may need to consider redoing the lawn if there are large dead areas. You can repair Bermuda by reseeding or resodding. St. Augustine will need new sod. Or you may want to consider a whole new type of grass, such as native buffalo grass, that requires less water and less mowing
Or maybe it’s time to look at a new grass variety. There are many turf types that may be better for your specific needs. The Texas A&M Research Center in Dallas has an extensive turfgrass research program.
Guidance on the best grasses for the area is available at agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/landscaping/turfgrass-selection-for-texas.