My St Augustine grass is mostly dead

shredApril 26, 2010

I have been working on this yard since 2004, proper fertilization 4-5 times a year. Mowing level is higher (3-3.5 inches) in the Dallas area because of the constant sun. Last year the grass was at it's peak. Thick carpet green grass. It was undeniably the best looking yard on the street. I used Scott's brand year round treatment at this home for 6 years with no problems. The front yard is all St Augustine. The back yard is mixed St Augustine, Dalis grass, some Bermuda and other green weed grasses. It could stand a makeover, but before I got here the back yard was basically a dirt mound, so it is vastly improved but, by no means perfect.

When the yards started to green this year, my yard was very slow. It has usually been the first yard on the street to green. This year almost all my St Augustine in the front and back yard basically looks dead. There is some growth I would consider to be 15% or less, but noticeably brown allover. My neighbors' yard as well all the St Augustine is completely dead with "some" growth. All the other grasses in both yards however are growing strong. Only the St Augustine has been effected. Its as if someone fertilized the yard with St. Augustine killer. I've researched online that this could be a fungus, bugs, brown patch. My neighbor had a fungus and I even treated that side of my yard when I saw his issue.

I have dug up the dirt to 6 inches in various areas of the yard and it is moist. Rain has been very good in this area lately. During the winter we actually had snow 2 times. I have wondered if that may have been the cause. Other yards in my street don't seem to have taken this much damage. I fertilized 2 weeks ago and now think that may have helped some but the yard still looks terrible compared to the past years. In hindsight I probably should not have fertilized with the yard in this state of shock. Scant new growth is appearing and coming up. The roots look dead at one end and minimal green at the other end.

Any feedback on how I might speed up the recovery or what could have possibly caused this to happen would be greatly appreciated. I am unsure of the type of St Augustine I have.

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Billl(z7 nc)

There really isn't much you can do to help grass recover. Don't apply any more chemicals or fertilizers. Just keep it watered and hope that it starts to come on as the weather warms.

How late did you fertilize it last year? Late season fertilization of warm season grasses means more tender growth and greater risk of cold damage. That could explain why your showcase lawn was affected more than others on your block.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Just curious where you live. In the south was record cold and duration, thank you Al Bore, I lost around 200 acres of SA on the sod farm here in North TX this winter. Could be it got too cold for too long and killed the grass which there is no recovery.

In addition it was a very long winter, and the green up in your area may be delayed like all over the south.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 3:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I agree with Weed. I think you had a susceptible variety of St Aug and got hit with the long freeze. If you have any left, it will come back. You might bring in some pieces of St Aug to patch in and let them spread.

Yes, fertilizing dead, or dormant, grass is a waste of fertilizer. You should wait until it has been mowed twice to be real sure the roots are working and taking in nutrients.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:45PM
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The problem seems to be in an area that slopes down toward a french drain and between the sidewalk and the street.

Educated guess that was a micro-environment exposed to the elements and froze hard killing the grass in that area.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 8:37PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

BillBerg you could patch in pieces of St Aug cut from other parts of the yard. If it is not in by now, it is dead.

BillBerg...didn't know GardenWeb was allowing upper case letters in their screen names. Spike used to do that but changed it to all lower case before he sold to iVillage.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 3:18AM
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Thanks for all the answers!


I did fertilize but not too late last year. I don't think that was the issue. However my neighbor did fertilize too late as his yard person told me. And his yard had been cut too low. This did affect my yard near that side but I'm sure not my whole yard.


I live in Garland, almost Mesquite near I-30 and beltline. Basically East Dallas. I do believe that the snows we had was a factor.

My grass has slowly begun to come back. The scant patches are much stronger now and even looking like its old self. However the yard still has patchy dead spots. I walked the neighborhood and realized that most of the yards had the same problem, some even worse. I guess the old saying goes: "The grass looks greener on the other side" I would like to add to that "Until you actually go take a closer look at the other side".

I believe that since I had such great looking yard last year before the snows, that shock effect was more noticaeable than in my neighbors yards. However my yard is coming back with its former healthy look, just patchy. I don't think it will look like it did last year, but hopefully it will by the next year. At this point I believe placing some St Augustine plugs in the patchy areas might help the yard.

Thanks again for all the replys!


    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 11:39AM
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FWIW it is not the snow that caused the problems. The snow actually can help by providing insulation and keeps the ground from freezing.

The killer is the dry freezes like we had this winter. We had several nights in a row when the temps drop in the teens and very low 20's at night, and day time temps did not get up to freezing or just slightly higher. This causes the ground to freeze to a depth of a few inches and the roots of the grass freeze. When that happens to SA, it is over, it is dead.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 1:21PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

It looks like it's about 2 weeks behind compared to other years but my 'Sapphire' st augustine is coming back with force now that it's warm. I guess it's not quite cold susceptible as I had thought, maybe a bit more cold hardy than Floratam. Still, I had a lot of winter kill that I had to remove. Still much better than Raleigh (very susceptible to fungal disease) and Palmetto (prone to SAD virus). Looks like maybe Palmetto got wiped out by hard freezes due to being weakened by virus??? Sapphire seem to be strongly resistant to fungal disease and SADV.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:53AM
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duajones(z9 TX)

My St Augustine was also way behind this year and actually looked half dead in most areas. Now it looks as good as it has in years

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 6:41PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Duajones, you should have seen my yard in february. It was completely brown. You'd think I had total winter kill !

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 1:54PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Now that a couple weeks have gone by, how are the St Augustine lawns doing in North Texas (Dallas area)?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 8:17AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Some lawns look bad. Some lawn look good. Lack of rainfall this spring doesn't help very much.

Interestingly, my neighbor's side looks better than my side along the property line. They have bermuda lawn (both st aug and bermuda are mixed now) and they often mow low every 2 weeks or so. Doesn't always water nor fertilize much. Makes you wonder...

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 10:06PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I missed posting an update last summer but eventually in the spring of 2010 I had to buy SA sod for the front lawn dead spot. Now the same thing that happened last year appears to be happening again in the same spot. The sod I put in last year doesn't look too healthy compared to other areas which is coming in nicely.

We had quite a few days of hard freeze this past winter again in Dallas along with heavy snow. Maybe I'll just switch to Bermuda or something less prone to freezing weather.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 10:20PM
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If it's happening in the same spot, I wonder if it might be a soil borne disease.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 11:04PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

I believe that the OP's grass will come back. My grass looked the worst it has mid February since I have been here. I applied corn meal around that time as I always do and watered it in. Once I had some new growth I applied some soybean meal and watered it in real good.
35 days difference in these two pictures

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 4:30PM
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It was another very cold winter. Lot's of dead SA in northern TX.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 11:43PM
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