Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Centipede, Bahia, Paspalum, etc
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Maduro
Posts: 3
Joined: June 13th, 2019, 11:25 pm
Location: Central florida
Grass Type: St augustine
Lawn Size: Not Specified
Level: Not Specified

Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Maduro » June 14th, 2019, 1:38 pm

Hi everyone. First post here, noob to the forum and lawn maintenance.

Im in need of help getting the lawn healthy and green.
I live in central florida and sod was put down a little over a year ago. I had the irrigation system on twice a week at starting at 4am. My St. Augustine is looking horrible and brow/yellowish.
Once again i am new to lawn care as this is the first time i own a house and have to mow and maintain. Previously i live in ny where i did not have anything to maintain.

I have heard that it might be leaf spot disease. If so how can i treat it. Currently i have a bag of milorganite and a bad of scotts turf builder southern lawn food. Which should i put down if any of the two. In late april i put down a small bag of scotts triple actikn which didnt seem to do much at all.
Once again anything would help as this is completely new to me.

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Maduro
Posts: 3
Joined: June 13th, 2019, 11:25 pm
Location: Central florida
Grass Type: St augustine
Lawn Size: Not Specified
Level: Not Specified

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Maduro » June 15th, 2019, 3:26 am

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Dchall_San_Antonio
Posts: 3083
Joined: December 17th, 2008, 1:53 am
Location: Bandera, Texas
Grass Type: St Augustine
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Dchall_San_Antonio » June 17th, 2019, 2:14 pm

Yes you have a disease in the turf. The cure for it, and this will surprise you, is ordinary cornmeal applied at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. You can get corn meal in bulk either at a feed store (best) or a grocery store catering to the Hispanic shopper. Cost at the feed store should be on the order of $10 for 50 pounds. Cost at the grocery is $10 for 25 pounds of masa de maiz. Apply to the entire lawn because corn meal is a fertilizer and will create dark green spots wherever you use it. It takes 3 full weeks to see the improvement. Why does corn meal work? It seems that corn meal decomposes primarily by a fungus. That particular fungus attracts a predatory fungus called Trichoderma. Once the Trichoderma finishes with the fungus on the corn meal, it is free to attack other fungi, including the one causing the brown spots on your grass. That process is what takes 3 weeks. Don't look for results at 2 weeks or even 18-19 days. It takes 21 days. Due to the density of the turf, I'm guessing you have the Floratam variety of St Augustine. Floratam will out pace the disease, but it will look yellowish as you see it now. Other varieties of St Augustine will decline and look completely dead. Once the corn meal has kicked in, all that yellow will disappear. I will post before and after pictures in the next post.

General St Augustine care:
Watering:
Deep and infrequent is the name of the game. Deep means one inch every time you water. If you get rain, even 1/2 inch, then stop watering for at least a week until the grass shows signs of drought stress. Infrequent means no more than once per week with temps in the 90s. No more than once every 2 weeks with temps in the 80s. No more than once every 3 weeks with temps in the 70s. And no more than once per month with temps below 70. Use this as a starting guide. At no time should you be watering more than 2x per week and that would be with temps above 100 and humidity below 30%. When you water like this the grass grows very deep roots and will get water from much deeper in the soil. Watering St Augustine too frequently will turn it yellow.

Mowing:
Mulch mow at the mower's highest setting every week or two. There is never a need to lower the mowing height for St Augustine.

Fertilizer:
Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Living in the south you can also hit it around Washington's Birthday. I call this the federal holiday schedule - easy to remember. I like organic fertilizer and use it exclusively. My favorite is alfalfa pellets followed by ordinary corn meal (as above). As a fertilizer you can apply at 15 - 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Weed killer:
Spot spray individual weeds in Mid April. The only herbicides that work on most everything contain atrazine. The Spectracide one comes in a purple RTU bottle with a hose fitting. Other weed killers seem to kill the St Augustine. Here is a pic showing how it works.

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The area to the left is Floratam St Aug. To the right is horse herb weed. In the center is where I spot sprayed. You can see the dead horse herb and the living St Augustine, as well as a little bermuda. In this case the bermuda might fill in faster than the St Augustine, but the St Augustine will eventually shade out the bermuda. The entire lawn to the left used to be bermuda and other weeds. We're in the process of growing the St Aug out to cover the entire lawn area.

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Dchall_San_Antonio
Posts: 3083
Joined: December 17th, 2008, 1:53 am
Location: Bandera, Texas
Grass Type: St Augustine
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Dchall_San_Antonio » June 17th, 2019, 2:24 pm

Here are some before and after corn meal pictures from James in Houston. This first one looks like yours. It was taken a month ago.

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The next one was taken just a few days ago - a month after the corn meal treatment.

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I catch a lot of flak from people telling me that corn meal doesn't work. They quote some Ph.Ds from Texas A&M and from Oregon State who seem to have the credentials, but they also seem to lack the experience I have with corn meal. I'm not sure why they don't try it. It works for me every year. Just do it. The problem with using chemical fungicides in the South is the heat. Most fungicides recommend using at temps below 85 F. We just don't have that luxury. Besides, if corn meal doesn't kill the disease, which it does, but then it is also a pretty decent fertilizer.

Maduro
Posts: 3
Joined: June 13th, 2019, 11:25 pm
Location: Central florida
Grass Type: St augustine
Lawn Size: Not Specified
Level: Not Specified

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Maduro » June 19th, 2019, 4:13 am

Dchall_San_Antonio wrote:
June 17th, 2019, 2:24 pm
Here are some before and after corn meal pictures

I catch a lot of flak from people telling me that corn meal doesn't work. They quote some Ph.Ds from Texas A&M and from Oregon State who seem to have the credentials, but they also seem to lack the experience I have with corn meal. I'm not sure why they don't try it. It works for me every year. Just do it. The problem with using chemical fungicides in the South is the heat. Most fungicides recommend using at temps below 85 F. We just don't have that luxury. Besides, if corn meal doesn't kill the disease, which it does, but then it is also a pretty decent fertilizer.
That looks great. Thank you for all the info. Picking up corn meal today. Should i just apply the corn meal then water in?
I also have the bag of milorganite... should i just not use it until disease is gone...

Also what are your thoughts on dethatching st. Augustine. Is is recommended or aerate instead..


John P
Posts: 2
Joined: July 7th, 2019, 6:50 pm
Location: Houston
Grass Type: St. Augustine
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by John P » July 8th, 2019, 12:54 pm

Dchall_San_Antonio wrote:
June 17th, 2019, 2:24 pm
Here are some before and after corn meal pictures from James in Houston. ...
Would you recommend applying alfalfa pellets at the same time as the corn meal for this purpose (brown spot)?
Or do you view the corn meal as a substitute for your quarterly alfalfa applications?

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Dchall_San_Antonio
Posts: 3083
Joined: December 17th, 2008, 1:53 am
Location: Bandera, Texas
Grass Type: St Augustine
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Dchall_San_Antonio » August 4th, 2019, 3:51 pm

Corn meal is the only organic approach found to handle disease in St Augustine. The corn meal would sub for the alfalfa, but it is not quite as potent as alfalfa pellets, so you might need to apply the alfalfa a little sooner next time.

Your grass should be cleared up by now if you applied the corn meal back when I replied the first time.

NEVER dethatch St Augustine. That will kill it. St Augustine spreads via the stolons above the ground. If you slice all those with a dethatcher it pretty much wipes it out.

I don't aerate my lawn, either. If you have sandy soil, you should never have to aerate. I have more of a compact soil, so I use shampoo to soften it. The rate is 3 ounces per 1,000 square feet. Apply the shampoo and water it in with 1/2 to 1 inch of water. Give it 3 weeks and the soil should soften significantly due to improved microbe environment.

ladycage
Posts: 6
Joined: September 15th, 2019, 7:54 am
Location: Lithonia, GA
Grass Type: Bermuda
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Novice

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by ladycage » September 19th, 2019, 2:58 am

I read that shampoo can be used as a liquid aerator instead of buying expensive products. I'm going to try it on my hard clay soil now that I know the application rate. Will the shampoo affect the grass any, I have bermuda that is trying to fill in.

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Dchall_San_Antonio
Posts: 3083
Joined: December 17th, 2008, 1:53 am
Location: Bandera, Texas
Grass Type: St Augustine
Lawn Size: 5000-10000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help needed with unhealthy lawn.

Post by Dchall_San_Antonio » October 2nd, 2019, 6:55 pm

Ladycage, the shampoo will not affect the grass. Almost nothing affects bermuda.

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