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lep
05-15-2009, 11:08 PM
We live in Houston and have St. Augustinegrass with a timed irrigation system. Over the last year or two, after the Winter, the lawn has not come back fully and for the most part had delayed growth in several areas. (the back yard has no problems).

While on many dog walks recently, it has been apparent that there are two kinds of lawns: those with very thick thick turf that seem to growing on steroids, and lawns that grow in moderation with patchy spots. In our lawn, I have noticed some blades of grass with gray spots (fungus), some with brown spots, and a lot of thatch in some areas. I don't know if we have cinch bugs, but I wouldn't doubt it since some areas have only dead thatch.

Recently, In April I applied Scotts Bonus S, then in early May Verigro Weed & Feed, and then Miracle grow 2 times since. All of the weeds are gone, and there are many green chutes growing indicating that growth is kicking in.

Based on what some forums have recommended for lawn care, you would actually have to be "chemical man" and have all kinds of anti-fungals, insect and nematode killers, and weed & feed ad nauseum. Any suggestions for getting a lawn that grows like it is on steroids?

lep
05-16-2009, 01:00 PM
Attached are some pictures of the front lawn.

bigslick7878
05-16-2009, 07:46 PM
Aerate,overseed and fertilize regularly.

A lawn always needs touching up here and there,and a consistent program to help it look like it is "on steroids"

Mow high and often. (ideally once every 5 days)

Double the irrigation times and cut the number of times you water in half.

Its not going to magically happen,it takes work.If you are willing to put in the time and effort you can have a wonderful lawn that requires little maintenance.

BTW that lawn doesn't look that bad.Some wider angle shots might help.

RAlmaroad
05-16-2009, 08:17 PM
What is your fertilize program? How much and how ofter are you applying fertilize. St. Augustine requires a lot of nitrogen and good potassium. Do you know your pH? If over 7.5 the fertilize begins to lock up--too much soil calcium blocking utilization. How much traffic is being put on the turf? Are you using any fungicides? I suspect a fungal problem and even some St. Augustine decline.

lep
05-16-2009, 09:35 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I water daily in morning (5 am) and at night (8 pm) for just 2-5 minutes depending on zone. It's possible that the roots are shallow, since I don't water twice a week like some St. Augustine forums suggested. I'll also half the frequency and double the times, and also use several measuring cups to learn the amount.

As far as fertilization, the lawn service we use supposedly applies fertilizers "when needed". Without soil sample results, it's difficult to guess what is needed. A month ago I noticed 10 different kinds of weeds in the lawn, so that's when I learned that the lawn service only care about getting paid for mowing and keeping the flower beds up. After seeing all those weeds, a month ago I applied Scott's bonus S which worked quite well. In the bottom photo (above), on closer inspection there is what appears to be gray patch and brown patch.

Today I applied Bayer full insect control. Tomorrow (or mid-week) I'll apply Spectracide's Immunox Lawn Disease Control. There could be insect infestation as well, so at least I have that under control.

The plan is to get a soil sample, and get back a fertilization schedule back on track. Is there anywhere to send a soil sample for analysis in the SouthWest?

Greg78
05-16-2009, 09:55 PM
Your local extension office should offer soil tests. Where in Texas are you?

Looks like it might be getting cut too short also cut at minimum 3.5", 4" to 4.5" would be better unless its a dwarf variety? The higher you cut the deeper your root system will get.

I don't like set schedules for watering. I try and only water when it needs it.
Blades start to bend inwards, foot prints stay on yard, color starts to get dull, etc etc.... This will cause your root system to get deeper also.

Greg78
05-16-2009, 09:57 PM
I didn't see you had already stated your in Houston.

Link for soil tests
http://newagnews.tamu.edu/dailynews/stories/SOIL/Nov0206a.htm

lep
05-16-2009, 10:01 PM
Greg thanks, I was guessing that TAMU had a service.

bigslick7878
05-16-2009, 10:31 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I water daily in morning (5 am) and at night (8 pm) for just 2-5 minutes depending on zone. It's possible that the roots are shallow, since I don't water twice a week like some St. Augustine forums suggested. I'll also half the frequency and double the times, and also use several measuring cups to learn the amount.

Tisk tisk.

2-5 minutes??? Twice a day??

Not what you want to do.Thats just asking for a shallow root system and a fungal disease or weeds.It needs to be watered deep and long.Lets see thats say 70 minutes a week you are watering now.First of all its not long enough in your area,the heat down there will suck that amount of water up in no time.

I would do once in the morning (7 am would be good) 3x per week,at about 30 minutes per day.Thats it.

As far as fertilization, the lawn service we use supposedly applies fertilizers "when needed". Without soil sample results, it's difficult to guess what is needed. A month ago I noticed 10 different kinds of weeds in the lawn, so that's when I learned that the lawn service only care about getting paid for mowing and keeping the flower beds up. After seeing all those weeds, a month ago I applied Scott's bonus S which worked quite well. In the bottom photo (above), on closer inspection there is what appears to be gray patch and brown patch.

When needed...interesting.That sounds like "if we get around to it...maybe.Any idea of when they are doing this?Do they charge you each time? Do you just pay them yearly and "trust them?"

You should be fertilizing 5x a year.Spread it out evenly and make sure they use the proper fertilizer for the part of the season.Tell them the "when needed" approach isnt working,and your lawn needs food on a regular basis.Have them map out 5 specific dates and make sure they stick to those times.

I see you say they havent fertilized much and just care about the mowing....that could be a problem you think?I dont see too many weeds so the scotts product seemed to do the trick.

Today I applied Bayer full insect control. Tomorrow (or mid-week) I'll apply Spectracide's Immunox Lawn Disease Control. There could be insect infestation as well, so at least I have that under control.

The plan is to get a soil sample, and get back a fertilization schedule back on track. Is there anywhere to send a soil sample for analysis in the SouthWest?

Just google "soil testing houston" and you will find a university that will do it for you.Yes a regular program is needed like I mentioned before.Some overseeding might be needded as well.

As far as all the fungal control,insect control and whatever else you want to throw on there because you THINK it MIGHT be the problem,please just take a step back and dont just throw random products on the lawn.I here so many times "my lawn has a disease!" and most of the times its just not the case.

Find out what the problem really is (its usually a lot simpler than people make it out to be) and then plan a course of action.

lep
05-17-2009, 08:17 AM
Great comments -- thanks.

Greg78
05-17-2009, 08:38 AM
You can't overseed St Augustine unless you do it with something other than St Augustine.

Greg78
05-17-2009, 08:57 AM
http://floridaturf.com/staugust/index.html
A good site.

ericbl
08-08-2009, 06:32 AM
did you solve your problem?

lep
08-25-2009, 10:03 PM
Here are some pics (late August) showing the awesome St. Augustine turf we now have. We water 2-3 times per week only. I also believe that using MicroLife (http://www.microlifefertilizer.com/index.htm) 6-2-4 organic-biologic fertilizer really helped because, the lawn grew like it was on steroids 2 weeks after a single application. MicroLife contains molasses, bat guano, humates, rock minerals, bio-stimulants, special bio inoculants, including endo and ecto mycorrhizal.

ericbl
08-25-2009, 10:12 PM
looks great, who makes and where did you buy the microlife?

lep
08-26-2009, 09:14 AM
There's a URL link to MicroLife's web site in my last post above (above the pics). MicroLife apparently is only available at 14 locations in Houston and 2 locations in Louisiana.

I am sure you can get it shipped directly from the company.