Over 1.4 million Houstonians garden for a hobby or pastime, and GardenLine is where they listen for advice and information on gardening and landscaping.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6 to 10, GardenLine's Randy Lemmon answers listeners' questions on everything from aphids to zoysias. He's Houston's absolute expert on lawns and gardens, offering help to listeners both with and without "green thumbs."
Randy's a Texas Aggie who truly KNOWS plants and flowers. He explains them with ease and candor, and is as competent a "plant person" as there is. He studies, and he practices. He embraces "new methods" as well as the "old" ways of dealing with problems. Call for Randy's solution for your question ... 713-212-KTRH (5874).
I'm not sure if it's because a lot of people are moving into new homes, or because of drought or chinch bug damage, but I'm getting a lot of emails about fertilizing new grass or sod.
As I noted in last week's article, this is the time of year for "winterization" or fall fertilizing. Coincidentally, most fall and organic fertilizers are the best for newly laid sod.
The answer to your probable next question is, "It just doesn't matter!" (I guessed that you'd ask, "Which do you prefer, synthetic or organic?")
If you have a brand new house with a newly installed lawn, you probably want to know where to start on my fertilization schedule. If the new grass doesn't look very healthy, pick up the schedule at current point immediately. If it looks good, you can assume that the turf farm fertilized it quite often, so that means you should wait 30-45 days before applying anything additional. Along the Gulf Coast, we can apply fall fertilizers as late as Nov. 1, so you can wait at least a month.
A few folks at the GardenLine appearance last weekend asked if I had any other suggestions for newly installed lawns, aside from keeping them well watered for the first few weeks. It's always good to watch for yellowing that can come from using too much water on new sod. When irrigating heavily, iron will leach out rather quickly, but new sod responds rapidly to an iron supplement. In an area with nothing but new lawns, you can almost always tell who was smart enough to add some iron.
Also, a biweekly application of some kind of soil activator like Medina will help break down the mud the grass came in. That will allow the roots to establish quicker in the dirt below. I suggest applying it every two weeks for two or three months.
Probably the top question at last week's GardenLine appearance came from people who had bought existing homes and were faced with a myriad of weeds in neglected lawns. Often, they're broadleaf weeds, but the solution isn't in which broadleaf weed killer works best. It's a matter of adding a surfactant to the mix. While it's still warm, almost all summer broadleaf weed killers work just fine. But Southeast Texas water is so hard that many herbicides simply bead up and roll right off the leaf surface. A surfactant helps break the surface tension, softens the water a bit, and creates a sheen on the leaf. Here are some tips on using surfactants.
Now, when the weather breaks, and we begin experiencing high temperatures in the 60s and 70s, you can switch to cool-season herbicides. But DO NOT use them until then, because they can kill St. Augustine and Zoysia grass in high heat.
If you live anywhere near the Golden Triangle, please come see me Saturday at M & D Supply on College Street in Beaumont.
Our friends at Nitro-Phos & Bonide have had very long and successful relationships with M & D, so you'll find all their great products on hand, many of which we'll be giving away! Once again, we'll have drawings for everything on the fertilization schedule — great for both existing and newly installed lawns. And if you line up to talk with me, I usually have and additional 50-60 items to give away just as a reward for your patience. I know, for example, I've got some Bonide Sedge Ender and other weed killers.
I really hope to see a whole bunch of Beamonteurs, Beaumongers, and Port Arturians on Saturday because, while I'm really looking forward to this first-ever GardenLine visit to M&D Supply, I'm a little concerned since it's quite a distance from our usual home. But it will be the best opportunity ever for listeners in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, Lumberton, Silsbee, Nederland or Bridge City to have me "get a pair of eyes on" samples of any issues you're having. So, bring your insect, disease, weed or general plant problem to M & D on Saturday. And please note the unusual time ... noon-2 p.m. That's because it'll take a little extra time to get me and all our gear out there after the GardenLine broadcast.