Another newbie looking for lawn help

mjj047sMarch 23, 2014

My lawn is in disarray. Foolishly, I saw a Scott's ad and logged online to research...thankfully I fell upon this site and have learned many valuable things (like don't hire Scott's lol)
I have every species of grass and weed (or so it seems) in my front lawn...please help. Seems I missed the window to plant seeds in the fall. I'm in Tampa. fl. Shade till about noon. Irrigation system installed. I am prepared to take time and effort to maintain. Attached are some pics. Any and every piece of help is much appreciated.


Here is a link that might be useful: Dropbox lawn pics

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Not ANOTHER newbie! Well, we were all there once or twice. Glad you did some reading.

Your next to the last picture (middle picture, bottom row) is almost pure St Augustine. Memorize that look because that is going to be your lawn in a year or so. All you need is a little SA and some guidance and it will take over. With your shade you cannot have bermuda, zoysia, or centipede, which are the other southern turf grasses, so get used to St Augustine. Your second picture from the left, top row, is a lot of St Aug runners. Nurture those.

The way to encourage the St Aug is to water and fertilize only the SA patches and runners. In the spring the St Aug will send out runners about 5 feet in all directions. It will do that again in the fall, for a total of about 10 feet of spread. When you see that happening, be sure to expand your watering and fertilizing. Not watering the weeds will help to eliminate them. When you water the St Aug make sure you water fairly deeply. You can do this with a black soaker hose set on extremely slow trickle and leave it on for several days. A slow trickle is measured at the faucet as 1 cup of water per minute (or slower). As for fertilizer I would suggest using only organic. St Aug will likely burn in the summer heat if you use chemicals on it. Organics cannot hurt it. I would fertilize at least monthly in all the patches, edges of the patches, and along the runners. Once you get a full St Aug lawn, then you can change to chemicals if you want to (but I wouldn't). This is part 1.

For part 2 you should scalp down everything which IS NOT St Augustine. Mow everything except the St Augustine at your mower's lowest setting. Allow the St Aug to grow up as tall as 7 inches before you mow it back down to 4 inches (your mower's highest setting). Scalping the weeds will help keep them down and kill them out. Once you have a full St Aug lawn, then you can continue mowing weekly at 4 inches.

Never pile any yard clippings, toys, paper, or anything else on the St Augustine. It can get a fungal disease almost overnight from being cut off from the air.

For now I would only discourage the weeds with the above methods. I would not spray herbicide unless you have an invasion of something into the established St Augustine. What I have described should keep all the weeds out, but there are a few which can still get in. Write back with pictures if that happens. Most normal weed killers will also kill St Augustine, so that's why I'm being a little extra careful.

My favorite organic fertilizer for the past few years has been alfalfa pellets (rabbit chow). If you want to do some more research, search this forum for the picture. Corn meal is good, and so is Milorganite. You should be able to get any of those at your local feet store in 50-pound bags for well under $20. The application rate is 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. For the runners, just drop some along each one. You cannot overdo it with these organics.

Now that you know your future lawn will be St Augustine, you can search the forum for mention of that, too. Also look for "deep and infrequent" with respect to watering.

This should get you going and give you some things to look up.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 5:33PM
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DChall -
I've read several of your replies on other posts. Super informative. Glad that all that info pertains to me and is much appreciated.

The St. Augustine that you see in those bottom pics are on the right side of my driveway and super prevalent. So if I can just get those runners to grow on the other sides I'll be set.

I used to cut it low until I read the info on this site! I'm glad I've learned some info and can't wait to grow a beautiful lawn. So are u suggesting I rip up the non SA in the front lawn or just wait for it to take over? I'll definitely go organic and order those pellets. Should I put SA plugs elsewhere?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:07PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

SA comes in large pieces, not plugs. If you want it to spread faster, then yes, put some of those around. Dig out an area about 3/4 inch deep and set the new sod in. Keep it moist and fertilized and it will spread faster for you.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:05PM
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