Tough on Turf

St. Augustine grass, in St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine grass, in St. Augustine, Florida
Thanks to the Master Gardeners of Lee County for including me in their educational series of talks. My topic on Wednesday was “Lawn Problems and Solutions”. I was lead to inform these 50+ homeowners about turf grass and its care but I found myself offering comfort and confrontation.
“More lawns are killed with a dull mower blade, set too low, than are killed by chinch bugs.
A main factor spreading fungal disease is a well meaning gardener, extending the “dew period” at night by irrigating after dinner. The longer a leaf is wet, the greater incidence of brown patch or gray leaf spot.
St. Augustine grass (Floratam, etc.) naturally grows on top of itself in layers and must be verticut every five to seven years. If your lawn is 10 years old or more and has not been verticut, it has a thick layer of thatch that harbors insects and seems impenetrable by pesticides.”
In two hours I did more hand-holding than finger-pointing so went on suggesting: if your landscape has many trees, palms, shrubs, beds of ground cover, and turf, and you need to pick just one type of fertilizer, choose a good palm food like 8-2-12 and apply to everything.
Shade? Grow ground covers like Asian jasmine, or mondo grass.
Fire ants? Baits are superior to granules but must be used when fresh. If you store your Amdro in a hot garage and it is more than a year old, it may be worthless.