How to Mess with Texas Lawns

Texas is a world of its own — which means Texas homeowners typically need to look for specific tips and tricks to help them with their landscaping quandaries. By following yard care advice intended for other areas of the country, Texas homeowners will almost certainly end up with an unattractive landscape and an untenably high-water bill.

Because the climate of Texas isn’t quite like the South, the Midwest or the Southwest, it can be tricky for Texas homeowners to know how to grow a lush green lawn without expending an overabundance of resources. Generally, the trick is to customize every aspect of lawn care, from the soil to the turf variety to the grass food, water and pest control. You shouldn’t mess with Texas — unless you are trying to improve your Texas lawn.

Texas Soil

The type of soil in your yard generally dictates what will grow. There are a variety of factors that explain soil types, such as pH level, clay content, moisture content, and color. Texas is a big state — as well you know — and as a result, there are roughly 1300 types of soils in different parts of Texas. Because it isn’t necessarily helpful for you to learn about the soil in El Paso if you are looking for lawn care in Houston, we’ll break all those soil types into the nine most common categories:

  • Histosols. Most often in the southeastern part of the state, these soils are wet and dense with organic matter — bad for foundations but good for lawns.
  • Spodosols. Also, in the southeast, this soil is also dense with organic matter but dry and a bit acidic, meaning it needs fertilizer treatment to grow plants.
  • Vertisols. In eastern and southern Texas, vertisols are dark black, red or gray and form large cracks during dry seasons. This is because it is filled with clay that expands and contracts.
  • Aridisols. These soils are especially dry and inhospitable, and you’ll find then in Western Texas. They are terrible for turf growth.
  • Ultisols. Found in humid areas with a history of farming, ultisols is highly weathered and lacks important nutrients, which will need to be added through fertilizer.
  • Mollisols. These soils are richly fertile and ideal for agricultural growth — and lawns. They are found in a large part of Texas but mostly on the plains.
  • Alfisols. Like mollisols but with higher clay content, alfisols are located across much of Texas but especially near the Rio Grande Plain and in the northwest.
  • Inceptisols. The most abundant soil on the planet (including in Texas) this soil is water-absorbent but easily eroded, making it a poor base for a lawn.
  • Entisols. This soil is deposited after moisture flow, like floods and landslides. It is incredibly permeable and likely to shift during weather.

Texas Turf

Again, the Lone Star State’s size makes it impossible to give you one right answer when it comes to which variety of turf you should plant for a luscious Texas lawn. If you choose one of the following grasses, you should be fine:

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  • Kentucky bluegrass. A cool-season grass that is durable and dense — best for parts of Texas that experience a true winter.
  • Carpet grass. A warm-season grass that thrives on wet, infertile soil — ideal for the coastal regions.
  • Ryegrass. A cool-season grass most often used in golf courses and parks.
  • Augustine grass. A warm-season grass that prefers heat and sandy soil — think the western part of the state.

Texas Mowing

Unfortunately, Texas lawns are easily overtaken by an abundance of weeds that tend to grow better in Texas soils. The best defense you have against a lawn full of weeds is mowing, which encourages your grass to grow thick and crowd out competing seeds. During the spring and summer, you should be mowing at least once per week, taking about one or two inches off the top each time.

Texas Water

Your lawn should be getting 1.5 inches of water every week. If you live in a wet part of Texas — in the east, near Louisiana — you might get enough rainfall during some parts of the year that you don’t have to irrigate at all. However, everyone else should strive to give their lawns one or two long, slow drinks every week instead of brief daily watering, which can evaporate before it reaches grass roots.

Texas isn’t the worst state in America to grow a lawn, and if you understand your soil and customize your turf, you have a fighting shot at growing a big, bright green lawn that lasts.