At Patrick Exterminating, we pride ourselves in our knowledge of St. Augustine grass. While beautiful to behold, it takes a lot of work and commitment to keep a St. Augustine lawn green and healthy all year long. Each lawn may have a different fertilizer requirement based on the age of the lawn, sun exposure and amount of shade, and all St. Augustine lawns are subject to damage from insects and fungus. Here are some basic guidelines to follow for proper care of St. Augustine lawns:
Proper lawn maintenance practices are the best means for avoiding pest or stress problems and for maintaining a healthy lawn. St. Augustine grass requires inputs of fertilizer to maintain good cover and healthy growth characteristics. During certain times of the year, it generally requires supplemental irrigation. Pesticides may be needed periodically, but their use can be minimized if other cultural practices (mowing, irrigation, fertilization) are done correctly and if Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices are followed. For more information on IPM practices, click here.
Proper fertilization is very important for sustaining a healthy lawn. Fertilization and other cultural practices influence the overall health and quality of the lawn and reduce its vulnerability to numerous stresses, including weeds, insects, and disease. It is very important that anyone fertilizing their lawn be familiar with and follow the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Best Management Practices (FFL BMPs). These practices are designed to maintain healthy lawns and reduce any potential nonpoint source pollution of water resources that might result from lawn and landscape fertilization and other cultural practices.
In south Florida, fertilizer applications may be made throughout the year since growth is year-round. University of Florida guidelines for lawn grass fertilization offer a range of fertilizer rates over which a particular species may be successfully maintained in the various regions of the state. These ranges account the effect that localized microclimates can have on turf grass growth. A range of rates allows for these environmental variations.
An example of this would be a typical home lawn that is partially shaded and partially sunny. The grass growing in the shade needs less fertilizer than that growing in full sun. Fertilization is also affected by soil type, organic matter in soils, and practices such as clipping management. Additionally, a newly sodded lawn on a sand soil with little organic matter requires more fertilizer than a lawn that has been fertilized for years. In Florida, new homes and new developments may be next to much older developed landscapes, and a one-size-fits-all approach to fertilization is not reasonable.
The best approach to weed control is a healthy, vigorous lawn. Weed problems in a lawn indicate that the turf has been weakened by improper management practices or damage from pests. Proper management practices can eliminate many weed problems. If weeds are a persistent problem, herbicides labeled specifically for St. Augustine grass should be used.
The major insect pest of St. Augustine grass is the southern chinch bug (Figure 7). Chinch bugs are foliar-feeding insects that suck plant juices through a needle-like beak, causing yellowish to brownish patches in turf (Figure 8). Injured areas are usually first noticed as the weather begins to warm in areas along sidewalks, adjacent to buildings, and in other water-stressed areas where the grass is in full sun. Other insect pests, including webworms, armyworms, grass loopers, and mole crickets can damage St. Augustine grass. Mole crickets damage turf grass areas primarily by creating tunnels or soft mounds while searching for food.
Large patch (Figure 9) and gray leaf spot (Figure 10) are two major disease problems of St. Augustine grass. Large patch occurs in warm, humid weather and is encouraged by excessive nitrogen. It is generally most noticeable during the spring and fall months. Gray leaf spot occurs during the summer rainy season and is primarily a problem on new growth. Both diseases can be controlled with fungicides.
Sound like a lot of work to keep your lawn green and healthy? Don’t worry we are here to help. Just give us a call at 772-386-6812 or click here schedule a free, no-obligation lawn inspection, and we’ll determine a solution that is right for you.
Source: St. Augustine Grass for Florida Lawns by L. E. Trenholm, J. B. Unruh, and T.W. Shaddox | University of Florida IFAS Extension http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh010
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