New st Augustine flouratam

Beckcol1April 2, 2014

Just layed palets of st Augustine flouratam, wanting any tips as far as how much and how often to water, when to fertilize and what kind of fertilizer?

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Any advice would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 11:21PM
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I laid down some squares of St. Augustine a couple of years ago, spacing them about 18" apart. I came here for advice, and the main thing seems to be, as I recall, not to let it dry out. I'm not permitted to water more than once a week, with the sprinkler system, and didn't want to fool with obtaining a "varience." So, I picked up one of those new Gilmour soaker hoses, which are flat, and bend without kinking, and ran it down the center of each square. I watered daily, through the summer, and the grass really took off. I trimmed it with a weed eater, but I guess you could mow over the hose, on a high setting. By the end of summer, the squares had joined. Seems like I was advised not to apply fertilizer, at least not for a while.

The alternative would have been to water by hand, permitted at any time. You might want to ascertain any applicable restrictions. You do need to use a $5 pressure regulator with soaker hoses.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 10:43AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

New sod should be watered lightly 3x per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner time). Water only enough to moisten the roots so they will grow into the underlying soil. That might be 5 to 10 minutes each time. When the roots have grown in you will not be able to lift the sod pieces. Then it is time to cut your watering in half. Water once per day but apply the same amount (15 to 30 minutes). After a week of that, you will need to figure out how long it takes your sprinkler system to apply 1 inch of water. Put out some empty cat food or tuna cans and time how long it takes to fill them. That's how long you will be watering. For the summer you should water once per week.

As for mowing, set the mower to the highest setting and leave it there. In fact you can weld it there. For St Augustine there is never any need to lower it. It does not need to be scalped in the spring or fall like some other grasses. Mulch mow every week or two when it needs it.

If you are going to use chemical fertilizers, then wait until you have mowed the grass at the high setting for the second time. Then fertilize with a fertilizer only, not a weed-n-feed product. If you have weeds it is much better to fertilize everything, wait 2 weeks, and then see what weeds you have left. Sometimes the increased growth of the grass will choke out the weeds. If you still have weeds 2 weeks after fertilizing, then spot spray with something that is good for St Augustine. Floratam is the most delicate of the St Aug varieties with respect to weed killers. This is why it is important to water properly and mow at the highest setting. These two practices will choke out almost everything.

If you want to try organic fertilizer like alfalfa pellets (rabbit food), you can apply that now or any day of the year. Grain type organic fertilizers work completely differently from chemical fertilizers, so there is no chance of burning or overdosing. Search this forum for "rabbit chow" for my many other explanations of that product. Or not if you're not interested in trying it. It does not attract rabbits, by the way.

You don't need any regulators on soaker hoses. All you need to do is not turn the water on full blast. Here's a picture of the rate I use with a soaker.

Let me explain the image. I have a quarter turn faucet valve turned on full. Then there is another quarter turn plastic valve which is almost closed off. Then there is a blaster nozzle on the end of the restriction valve simple to contain the mist and show how little water is coming out. Why do I use two valves? Because the expensive metal valve is designed to be either on or off. The metal inside the valve will erode with the water squeezing through a partially open valve causing the valve to leak prematurely. The plastic in the second valve will not erode, but even if it did, the valve only costs a few dollars and is easily replaced. But back to the issue - the trickle rate is 1 cup per minute. Attach your soaker hose with the water turned to 1 cup per minute and you don't need any further restriction. If you have a different kind of faucet, you don't need the second valve.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Dc da man.

One advantage of the soaker hose is that, from the street, you can't tell whether it's active or not. Two years ago, I could water any time, with a soaker. Now they've changed it to one day a week, and only at certain times. I got a "warning" several years ago, for watering on the wrong day, and was informed that my next exercise in such criminal misconduct would result in a $200 fine. I understand "variances" can be obtained for new plantings, but I suspect the process might take time.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 1:46PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I got warned too several years ago. My community buys water from San Antonio Water System and resells it to us, so we make our own rules. Our rules mimic SAWS's rules exactly except we are allowed to use soakers all day, any day. But I can't remember seeing any soaker hoses on the lawns. I think they use them for the roses or something. But they can save your landscape if you get to use them. When I use them I only trickle the water out at a rate of 1 cup per minute as measured at the faucet. That's about 800 gallons per week which is equal to 1 hour from my regular sprinkler on at full flow.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 4:15PM
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I layed the sod this past week Wednesday, I have been watering with sprinklers 2 hrs every morning since then. Have I hurt it?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 6:39PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Possibly depending on many other factors. 1 hour per week would be plenty for mature grass. A total of 20 minutes per day for new sod should be plenty.

I would let the sod dry out for a day at least. Recovering from over watering is a balancing act. The goal is to develop deep roots. With that amount of water you barely need roots at all, so they roots you have might be less effective. So you cannot simply stop watering, you have to keep some amount on but still try to get the roots to dig deeper into the soil. After a day of drying out, then reread my earlier message and go with that. Unless you need a soaker hose, you can ignore my suggestion there.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 1:13PM
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Thank y'all appreciate the help.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:35PM
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Sorry but I have to ask. When I got home today my grass was kind of wilted, I did not water today so it could dry out and I could start the watering schedule you suggested. It got to about 90 today here in Three Rivers tx, is it normal for my grass to look like this?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:24PM
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