Integrated pest management starts from the ground up…literally. Nowhere is this more evident than your lawn. The foundation for good turf pest management is good lawn care. And if you want advice on the best varieties, proper soil preparation, correct fertility, and watering, you should head out right now for the AggieTurf website. The sections on selecting the right grass and how to care for your lawn are especially useful.
Proper fertility can help or hinder pest control. Over fertilizing is known to attract chinch bugs and can make your grass susceptible to disease. Under-fertility makes your grass weak and more susceptible to a variety of pests. Knowing what fertilizer to apply, therefore, is a critical first step to a healthy lawn. To get your soil tested, follow the directions and send a a sample either to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory, or (for a private test lab) the Texas Plant and Soil Testing Lab.
Not all turfgrass pests are insects. In fact, disease-causing pathogens and nematodes are probably as important, or more important, than insects in causing problems for your lawn. To learn more about turfgrass diseases, or to find out how to send in a turf sample for diagnosis, check out the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab website. Getting a sample evaluated costs at least $35.
To read about some of the insect pests that affect turf in Texas, be sure to check out the turfgrass pests section of this website. The two most common pests of home lawns are white grubs and chinch bugs; but several other pests show up occasionally, including stunt mites, armyworms, and mole crickets.
Fire ants may not feed on turfgrass, but they do disfigure lawns with their mounds, and make the lawn less usable due to their presence and painful stings. For everything (and more) that you want to know about fire ants and their control, check out the eXtension fire ant web pages.