Help Please – St. Augustine problems

Help Please – St. Augustine problems

hoover98 – posted 14 October 2005 10:47

I have some problems with my yard. I live in Houston and my lawn has gone downhill over the last 6 months. I have an irrigation system that I run every 2-3 days, but am going to try and water longer every 5 days, which was suggested my the turf dept. at Texas A&M. Problems include:-Weed and bermuda infiltration throughout the yard-Spotty growth and many dead, dry spots.-Pretty significant thatch problem, I think.

I have pictures to email if someone wants to take a look. Thanks.

[This message has been edited by hoover98 (edited 14 October 2005).]

ted – posted 14 October 2005 13:34

you’ll definitely be having fungus problems at this point, but it’s too late to treat. other than that it should be a pretty easy lawn to maintain- need alot more info- how old is the lawn, how much do you water, etc. etc.

hoover98 – posted 16 October 2005 20:03

Watering times vary by zone. Some zones that don’t drain well get 15 minutes or so every 5 days, but the main lawn itself probably gets 30-40 minutes every 5 days.

Lawn is 5 years old, but we’ve only lived here for since July 2004. Lawn did very well last year and into this summmer, before rapidly going south over the last few months.

Some sections have almost no grass growing. I have a TON of these little grass-like sprigs popping up everywhere, though.

I put Scotts Weed N Feed down early in the spring and again about a month ago. Should I go ahead and put some winterizer down before it gets colder? Is it too late to aerate and sand the lawn?

Here are some pictures:http://img378.imageshack.us/img378/220/front17oa.jpghttp://img378.imageshack.us/img378/194/front28yj.jpghttp://img378.imageshack.us/img378/6545/frontcloseup6oy.jpghttp://img378.imageshack.us/img378/5883/curbside10cx.jpghttp://img67.imageshack.us/img67/1895/curbside29ab.jpghttp://img67.imageshack.us/img67/4176/weed28oc.jpghttp://img67.imageshack.us/img67/4853/back11ij.jpghttp://img67.imageshack.us/img67/8529/back26ej.jpghttp://img67.imageshack.us/img67/9232/side8eh.jpg

Notice the difference in the last picture and the first couple of pics (front yard)? Night and day difference in quality of grass.


[This message has been edited by hoover98 (edited 16 October 2005).]

AMCalla – posted 17 October 2005 08:19

Hi there

There are a couple of problems that are bad this year for SA grass. Brown patch and cinch bugs. You might have a little of both. The bugs are horrible in the Houston area and Brown Patch is bad all over.

The area between the street and sidewalk looks to me like is has a problem with the bugs and drought. The heat from the sidewalk and street is hard to fight with water and that area will take a lot more than the rest of the lawn. To test for the bugs, do a search on the internet for pictures so you will know what they look like. Then take a coffee or soup can and cut open both ends to make a tube. Hammer the can into the soil a couple of inches at the edge of the dead spots where is it still slightly green. Have a large container of water and fill the can almost to the top. Slowly add water to maintain this level for about 5-10mins. You should see the bugs float to the top. You could even add a little dish detergent to irritate the bugs and help the floating, but it isn’t necessary. If you see them, you will want to treat the entire yard with a product that will kill them. If not, they will eventually kill the entire yard. If you don’t see bugs, chances are you are just suffering from drought. Tough to fight drought in that area.

The rest of the front yard looks like it has the brown patch and maybe the bugs as well. Do the same test for the bugs in a few of the worse spots in the main front yard and any any spots in the back that have dead areas.

If you have the bugs, treat for them first. Wait a week or so to treat for the fungus.

The other problem that it looks like you have is Brown Patch which is a fungus. I have been fighting this too and so has every one I know with a SA yard. You can treat the fungus either organically or chemically. Chemically is more effective, but is very hard on the yard as the treatment kills both good fungus and the bad. And since you may have only about 3-4 weeks left in the growing season it isn’t much time for the yard to recover. If you do have the cinch bugs, and have to treat for both, I would opt for the organic approach. Organically is damaging, but not as much. You decide which way you want to go, but I started chemically because mine was worse than yours. For you, I would suggest treating the really bad areas (provided it isn’t bugs) with a liquid chemical anti fungal for brown patch, and the entire yard with an organic control. Call nurseries to find one around you that stocks and practices organics. They will suggest the right stuff to put on the entire yard. I am not awake and can’t think what it is. Cornmeal doesn’t work as a cure. After you have treated for the fungus, rake out and trash the dead grass. Wait a week to ensure that the fungal problem isn’t growing and then treat the yard with liquid Seaweed weekly until late November or until tempretures drop below 60 regularly. Winterize at the end of November and then just wait it out till spring and see where you are.

How old is the lawn? I doubt you have a thatch problem unless you have a tendency to wait too long to mow. Don’t dethatch this fall. That is too much stress for the grass at one time. Fix the problem first, then dethatch if you feel it is necessary when the grass is actively growing in the spring. Same with aeration. Hold off until spring.

As far as the Bermuda and the weeds. You are not going to find anything that will kill the weeds or the Bermuda and not the SA grass. The Bermuda is infesting because the grass is weak. The weeds too. You will have to hand pull the weeds though until the grass is fixed and growing thick and strong.

On the watering. Water when you need to and water deeply and early morning. Not sure if you have a system or drag hoses like me. I am also not sure how long you water. New SA grass will need about 2″ of water a week (1″ at a time). Older and established grass (2 years or older) only needs about 1/2 that. With SA grass it is easy to tell when to water. The blades will start to fold in half. If they are flat, they are good. When about 25% of the yard starts folding up, then water about an inch. More than that is a waste as the water will drain past the roots. Less than that and you are promoting shallow roots and thus more water. Let me know if you need instructions on how to audit your sprinklers to water an inch. To give you an idea of how much that is and how long it could possibly take you. I use an overhead occilating type sprinkler and it takes about 3 hours to cover 1500 sq ft with 1″ of water.

Hope I have helped. ha!

AaronWeatherford, TX.

jh11734 – posted 24 October 2005 15:26

Did you do what the reply recommended? what did you find out? Did anything work? My yard looks exactly the same. I live in the San Antonio area. Thanks.

rgm – posted 11 November 2005 15:47

Hoover you’ve got one of three things I’d check. First can you pull up the sections that are in bad shape? I bet so. You either have chinch bugs or grubs. If you look at the areas where the turf is changing and look in the heart of the blades you can see the chinch bugs, they are like little black gnats with a speck of color on thier back, if not take a shovel and scoop up a few scoop fulls right at the transition points and look for grubs, they’ll be within 6 to 8 inches of the root zone and will look like a slug. If it’s grubs then the best product is Dylox, you can get it at any lesco supply store. Pre water the lawn and then apply with a spreader then you must water it in again for it to work, the reason to pre-water is to get the grubs to the surface, then apply the Dylox and water it in so it contacts them. It may take several weeks for them to die but they’ll stup the damage in a day or two. Then fertilize with a good fertilizer. If it’s chinch bugs have your lawn sprayed with Talstar at a rate of 1 oz per 1,000 ft using 10 gallons of water per 1,000 and that should do it. There is NO fungus in your lawn as from what I can see from your pictures, though after a SA lawn gets stressed it can develop one easier in which case that can also be treated quite easily. Hope this helps, let me know.

hoover98 – posted 16 November 2005 11:37

It was chinch bugs. We had some landscaping work done recently, and within 10 seconds, they said it was chinch bugs. They told me to apply an insecticide 3 times, 7 days between applications. Just laid down the third on Friday, and the lawn is looking better (I used Bayer Complete Insect Killer Granules). Also had some brown patch, and have applied two rounds of spray-on fungicide, although I understand I won’t see real results until Spring, and that I should re-apply then, too.

Thanks for the help, guys.

AMCalla – posted 18 November 2005 06:32


If you read this. Go easy on the fertilizer next year to help with the Brown Patch. Brown Patch affects heavily fertilized lawns more.


Chemmie – posted 28 December 2005 18:29

I want to bring this back from the dead to ask a question.

I’m in Orlando and have grass that looks exactly the same as the pictures in this thread. Since it is almost January, it seems the spreading of the, most likely, Cinch Bugs has stopped. Is this normal? It seems like there hasn’t been any new areas destroyed in a month or two.

Since the lawn is pretty dormant now, would applying an insecticide be advisable now or should I wait until spring?

Will the grass grow back?

How does one protect against Cinchbugs in the future?

Thank you!

hoover98 – posted 13 July 2006 20:11

UPDATE: My lawn was looking 100% better until about two weeks ago when it started raining. And raining. And raining.

Brown patch started popping up everywhere due to the constant moisture (standing water in a couple of places, even). I sprayed fungicide early this week. Funny someone mentioned the heavy fertilizing and its relation to brown patch. Under the advice of our landscape company, I fertilied every 30-45 days this spring, and the grass really responded (I had 6 inches of growth a week, honestly). Hopefully it will stop soon and I can get back to aregular maintenance schedule. Thanks for the tips.

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