Common North Texas Turfgrasses

Saint Augustine

 St. Augustinegrass is a warm-season turfgrass and is one of the most widely planted turfgrass species in Texas, particularly in urban environments. This is due to its superior shade tolerance relative to other warm-season grasses as well as its deep rooting potential and drought tolerance. Look to this turfgrass for shade tolerance, drought tolerance and rapid establishment.

Bermuda

 Bermudagrass is a warm-season, fine-textured turfgrass and is extremely drought-hardy, durable, and versatile. Can be used in many settings included golf courses, athletic fields and home lawns. Look to this turfgrass for drought tolerance, heat tolerance, deep rooting potential, durability and rapid establishment rate. Main downfall is low shade tolerance.

Zoysia

 Zoysiagrass is a warm-season turfgrass and is one of the most diverse turfgrasses available for use. Two species being most predominate in Texas, Zorro and Emerald, these look very similar to Saint Augustine and Bermuda grasses. Look to this turfgrass for superior shade tolerance, drought tolerance, cold tolerance and high traffic tolerance.

Annual Ryegrass

 Annual ryegrass is an annual, cool-season turfgrass and is primarily used to overseed warm-season species (like Bermudagrass) to provide winter color. This turfgrass is most successfully planted in the fall and can provide ground cover throughout the winter months, particularly where warm-season turfgrass will not persist. Look to this turfgrass for cold tolerance, short germination time, rapid establishment and a green lawn during Texas winters.

Common North Texas Turf Insects

White Grub

 White grubs feed on the roots and other below ground portions of warm-season turfgrasses, such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and St. Augustinegrass, as well as cool-season turfgrasses like ryegrasses. Visible damage includes irregularly shaped patches of dead grass that may resemble yellow/brown patches. Secondary damage may also occur in the form of damage from skunks, raccoons, and armadillos digging through your lawn to seek and feed on grub. 

Chinch Bugs

 Chinch bugs are common pests of St. Augustinegrass in the southern United States and often cause significant damage to turf during summer months. While St. Augustinegrass is the only turfgrass to suffer severe damage from chinch bugs, they have also been reported to feed on zoysia and bermudagrasses. They damage grass by feeding on the sap of the plant and injecting a toxin that results in death of plant tissue. If left un-treated, chinch bug damage results in irregular patches of yellowing turf that may spread outward and ultimately result in plant death.  

Armyworms

 The armyworm is the most common cause of damaged turfgrass on golf courses, athletic fields, and home landscapes. Damage may initially resemble brown stress areas, but will progress to complete loss of foliage if numbers are sufficient and the lawn is left untreated. Armyworms are destructive pests that consume turf grasses, but they'll feed on vegetables and other plants when food is scarce. They eventually become moths, but it's the worm-like larvae stage that cause the most damage. When large numbers are present in your lawn, armyworms may seem to march side-by-side like an army battalion. Heavy infestations can destroy lawn grasses in just a few days.

Fire Ants

 Red fire ants are medium-sized red and black colored ants, when disturbed emerge aggressively, crawling up vertical surfaces, biting and stinging “all at once”. The impact of fire ants in Texas is estimated to be $1.2 billion annually! Fire ants are now pests of urban areas and pose a serious health threat to plants, animals and your family members. Fire ants don't confine themselves to lawns; they invade gardens, compost piles, outbuildings and homes. These aggressive pests can sting repeatedly, and attack anything and anyone who disrupts their feeding or their mounds.

Spiders

 Spiders, which are classified as arachnids, have fang-like mouthparts called chelicerae, which are used to inject venom, a powerful mixture of toxic chemicals. These chemicals can include proteins and neurotoxins that help immobilize prey and cytotoxins to help break down and digest it. While most spiders are venomous, the good news is that out of the more than 3,000 species of spiders in North America, there are only two primary species known to be dangerous to humans: the black widow and the brown recluse. Black widow venom packs a powerful punch of neurotoxins, though their bites are seldom fatal. The cytotoxins in the venom of the brown recluse spider (also known as a "fiddleback," due to the violin-shaped marking on its back) can cause tissue damage and infection if left untreated. Depending on an individual's sensitivity issues, some people may experience allergic reactions to spiders that are considered to be mildly venomous. And even a "dry" bite, where no venom is injected, can be painful and present a risk of infection. Suspected spider bites should always be reported to a physician, especially if the victim reports feeling dizzy, feverish, nauseated or experiences vomiting or headaches. 

 

Cricket

 Crickets, of which there are different species, are generally famous for the chirping sounds males make to attract female mates. Research has shown that you can even estimate the temperature outside in degrees Fahrenheit by counting the number of chirps you hear in 15 seconds and adding 40. Crickets aren’t known to be harmful or dangerous. These vocal insects are essentially just a nuisance pest, particularly if their concerts keep you awake at night. However, once inside your home, field and house crickets may feed on fabric (cotton, silk, wool, fur and linen). Crickets prefer fabric and paper that’s been soiled by food or perspiration. Crickets may occasionally wander into your house, particularly in the fall, when it’s cooler at night and insects are looking for warm places to spend the winter. Crickets are strongly attracted to bright lights, and they can enter your house through open doors and windows or cracks in window frames, foundations or siding. Crickets don’t usually lay eggs or live very long inside homes and they usually die in the fall or early winter.

Common North Texas Weeds

Dandelion

 Dandelion is a tap-rooted perennial that can often behave as an annual. Leaves occur in a basal rosette, are oblong-lanceolate, and deeply-lobed with the lobes often pointing back towards the base. This common lawn weed tends to appear in April through June, when its flower head matures and seeds disperse. Dandelions are a perennial, it will keep coming back if you don’t take measures to control it. The best defense is to maintain a thick, healthy lawn and treat Dandelion with, selective, liquid weed control. 

Dallisgrass

 Perennial grassy weed that is very difficult to control due to deep, aggressive rhizomes that often forms clumps. Inflorescences contain 2-8 branches, each with multiple spikelets. Dallisgrass grows in clumps, and it sticks out in the lawn because of its bunch-like appearance, coarse leaves and tall seed stalks. The best control for Dallisgrass is a late fall post-emergent weed control application while it is still actively growing followed by a regular weed control program during the remainder of the season.

Bittercress

 Known for its tiny white flowers, bittercress is a winter annual weed that emerges in early spring. It is especially prevalent after rainy periods because it thrives in wet ground. Bittercress has a long tap root. Luckily, bittercress is an annual so the plant you eliminate won’t return next season. But, the key to controlling bittercress is catching it before its flowers turn into seed pods that disperse.

Nutsedge

 Nutsedge, also referred to as nutgrass, is a perennial weed with a triangular stem and foliage that sprouts in groups of three. It can grow in dry soils and shoots up more rapidly than turfgrass, so you’ll notice it sprouting up out of your lawn. Because this is a perennial weed, it grows in warmer months, goes dormant in cooler months, and can come back again and again. By treating Nutsedge every year, you’ll make progress by reducing the next year’s weed amount.

Crabgrass

 Smooth Crabgrass and Hairy Crabgrass are both annual grasses, and they crop up in the lawn in early to mid-spring. Crabgrass reproduces quickly and can dominate a lawn because it grows faster than most turfgrass. Crabgrass needs sunlight to thrive, which is why crabgrass takes over in thin lawns, and in lawns where grass is cut very short. Pre-emergent weed control in late fall, late winter and early spring can reduce the amount of crabgrass from surfacing. In spring and throughout summer, a timely post-emergent weed control helps control plants when they are small.

Spurge

 Spurge leaves are oval and oblong, with serrated edges and have a bit of purple or red in the center. Summer annual broadleaf weed with prostrate growth habit. Leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem, elliptic in shape, and have finely-toothed margins. Like all spurges, the stem exudes a milky sap when cut. This broadleaf weed germinates in late spring and grows throughout the summer. The key to controlling it is applying pre-emergent weed control in late winter and early spring, followed by post-emergent herbicides to manage spurge that appears in the lawn.


Poa Annua

 Also known as annual bluegrass, Poa annua grows upright and has creeping stolons. It tends to emerge in late summer and persists in fall. Its seeds germinate through fall, winter and spring, which can make this lawn weed difficult to control. Annual Bluegrass is a troublesome winter annual weed that can persist and produce unsightly seedheads in mowed turf, even at extremely low mowing heights as in putting greens. Like all bluegrasses it’s leaves have folded vernation and a boat-shaped tip. Ligule is membranous and the auricle is absent. 

Henbit

 Named for the fact that yard birds love to munch on it, this cool-season annual broadleaf weed creeps up in early fall and grows through winter into spring. It has square, slender stems that branch out from the base, and its leaves are circular and hairy. Henbit has shallow roots, and it spreads aggressively during the off-season in north Texas. Year-round lawn care is critical for maintaining healthy turf, free of this stubborn weed. In spring, henbit blooms pink/purples flowers.

Sandbur

 A grassy weed with sharp burs, blades are flat and the upper surface may feel like sandpaper. The burs are painful to step on or touch and can spoil a lawn for playing. Each bur contains only two seeds, but one plant may produce as many as a thousand seeds. Seeds are spread to new areas when the burs cling to clothing and animals or are mowed. It is most troublesome in lawns with light, sandy soils as it prefers full to partial sun, mesic to dry conditions, and open sandy soil. Sandbur will grow in non-sandy soil as well, especially where the ground vegetation is sparse. Sandbur prefers areas with a history of disturbance. This is a rather weedy grass and it is considered a nuisance in residential areas.

Clovers

 Clover is a perennial weed that grows easily in moist areas. This shallow - rooted weed is found throughout the U.S. Clover also performs well in nitrogen - depleted soil, so keeping your lawn well fed can help keep it from coming back.  Although some people like to have clover growing in their lawn, others want to control it because they think it looks messy or are concerned about their children being stung by bees visiting the flowers.  White clover (Trifolium repens), a member of the legume family, is a perennial weed that is common throughout the U.S. It is closely related to the agricultural crops alfalfa and sweet clover. Since it produces its own nitrogen, clover will thrive in lawns that are under-nourished. 

Aster

 This plant also goes by roadside aster and slender aster. It grows in clumps, producing flowers that resemble a daisy. While that sounds attractive at first, asterweed can become problematic pretty quickly. Annual weed with simple, linear, and alternate leaves. Heads with yellow disk flowers while ray flowers can be white, blue, purple, violet, and pink. Gets increasingly woody and more difficult to control as it matures late in the season and in areas where it can be a perennial weed. Best practice is to water thoroughly, as it prefers dry soil, and to apply a pre-emergent treatment before asterweed gets a chance to flower.

Bluestem

 Bluestem, more formally known as “King Ranch bluestem.” Was introduced into the U.S. from southern Europe and South Africa almost 100 years ago as a source of livestock forage and as a means of stabilizing raw cuts along roadsides. It certainly did all of that, but in the process it became obvious that KR bluestem was also invasive and that it threatened the diversity of native species of plants. Plants can begin as a bunch-type growth habit, but then spreading by rhizomes and/or stolons, especially in mowed turf. Inflorescence is a terminal panicle with spicate primary branches. One of the most common roadside and utility turfgrass weeds in Texas. KR bluestem rarely shows up in really healthy, vigorous home lawns. It’s much more common in lawns that have struggled through drought, lack of fertilizers and infrequent mowings. 

Fertilization and Weed Control

Lawn Fertilization:

 Why Fertilize you ask? Just like we need more nutrients than water can provide us to survive and thrive so does your lawn.  If you're watering your grass properly, but it's pale green or yellow instead of dark green, your turf is most likely nutrient deficient. Feeding your lawn 4 or more times per year with professional grade fertilizers help it stay green and grow thick. Maintaining a thick, luscious lawn helps prevent weeds from moving in and taking over.

Weed Control:

 Even the best-tended lawns come under attack from common weeds. Weed seeds float in on the wind, creeping weeds come from neighboring lawns, and weeds you pulled may continue to grow. Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, complete their entire life cycle in a single growing season, and then die, leaving seeds behind to continue the legacy. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, come back year after year from their roots, and distribute new seeds. Pre-emergent weed controls, work to keep weed seeds from germinating and developing. Post-emergent weed controls fight weeds that have already germinated and have emerged from the soil.

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