OK, I know there is still a lot of controversy over whether or not you should even have lawn. Look for more on this in the future. But if you do still have a lawn, NOW is the time to fertilize. Here are some recommendations and some things to avoid.
First, based on test by Texas A&M and years of my own experience, low level, organic lawn fertilizers will grow the best grass of all the products out there. Look for numbers like 6-1-1, 9-1-1, or 6-2-4. Amounts to apply vary, depending on your maintenance program and desires. The City of Austin has some great guidelines posted here. Check it out for the numbers.
Also, PLEASE for the love of god! DO NOT USE WEED & FEED! There are several reason why, but here are my top 2.
#1- Atrazine, the active ingredient, is the most prevalent pollutant found in our water supply. It has been banned in the European Union since 2004, but the EPA keeps letting us use it here in the US. To learn more about this, click here.
#2- Weed & Feed is a flawed principal here in Central Texas. Your lawn needs “weed” in February to early March, but doesn’t need “feed” until mid- April. The timing just doesn’t fit. It is also not terribly effective on the most noxious weeds we have here. Look for some weeding recommendations in the future.
So don’t fear if you haven’t fertilized yet, it’s just now time. Check out your local Independent Garden Center for their best recommendation, but be sure you ask for organic or all natural.
What a nice little shower we got here in Austin this afternoon. Nearly half an inch of rain fell at the weather station in the Bouldin Neighborhood. The temps are low and the soil is wet, so I think it’s time to do some weeding! It is so much easier to pull weeds when the soil is moist, especially those with deep tap roots. I like to grab the weed right at the base, just above ground level, and pull straight up. The grounds here at Rancho Pollo are definitely in need of some work these days (thanks to the kiddos), so I didn’t come close to “finishing” all that weeding, but I made a nice dent.
I know that the idea of pulling all the weeds in any given area can seem overwhelming, so I often tell people to try this. Set aside 15-20 minutes a day, maybe just after you get home form work, to do a little weed pulling. You can even bring the kids out there with you. I can almost guarantee you that after a week or so, the vast majority of the weeds will be gone. And don’t worry if you aren’t free the day of the shower. Soil moisture usually last for a few days, at least in the spring.
So what if the roots are not coming out easily when you pull? There are several types of small hand tools on the market that are great for helping get to
the roots of weeds. My favorite is the Hori-Hori or Japanese Gardening Knife. They are great for getting under roots, digging small
holes, weeding in cracks, and even cutting small roots.
I also like a tool called the Cobra Head. While not as versatile as the Hori-Hori, it is great for getting under deep-rooted weeds and helping pop them out. I always keep on in my tool belt and use it quite often to remove those deep rooted weeds like the Eve’s Necklace seedlings that are becoming rampant here at Rancho Pollo.
Well, I done gone and done it! It was not an easy decision for me to leave behind a career in the Garden Center world, but it was definitely time. I have truly loved *almost* every minute of my years advising Austin Gardeners on the in’s and out’s of gardening in our often difficult climate. Now, I look forward to doing the same, but in a more relaxed, intimate atmosphere. It’s hard to really talk to someone when a line is forming behind them for other questions.