Sketchy areas in my St Augustine (pics included)

asudevil311 - zone 9bApril 21, 2012

Hello, provided below are 2 sections of my St Augustine. The first group of photos show the center of my lawn and a circular patch that is green, but seems to have trouble growing. Not sure if its a fungus, or if maybe temperatures in Phoenix haven't been right for it to come out of hibernation. Only reason that I don't think it is hibernation is that most of my lawn has already started coming back (note the closeup of the area doing well as well as the above-looking shots that show areas around the "circle"). The second set of photos are in a different region of my lawn and have a more odd-looking shape than circular.

Above-looking pictures and closeups are provided of both sections in hopes that someone can help.

Here is the first area that has the "circular" shape to it:

Close up of this circular area:

Grass in good condition around and outside of the circular area:

This second area is elsewhere in my lawn and again, not sure what to think.

Closeups of this second area:

If these are two separate problems let me know as again, these area two different areas. I hope the pictures help, and if you feel I should post some more let me know and I will be sure to provide more.

Thanks for any and all help/replies. I figured I would post on here before I go gun-ho and buy a bunch of ill-advised lawn care materials. Thanks!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

YES! Please post first and act later. Thank you!!

Circular area issues == fungal problems - Almost always. I don't see any tell-tale signs of fungus on the blades so I'm going with a root type disease.

It may sound crazy but I have always had excellent results against fungus in St Augustine by applying ordinary corn meal at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet to the entire lawn (to stop it from spreading). In fact I don't even dread fungal problems like I used to. It takes about 3 full weeks before you see results. Apparently what you have is not a serious issue or all your grass would be dead in there. Corn meal is also an organic fertilizer so you will see the lawn green up overall.

How often and how long are you watering?

Raise your mower all the way to the top and mulch mow. It will take several weeks for all the grass to get up to mowing height but you will love it up there. It will go much longer between watering when mowed at the highest setting.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 9:05PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

I am pretty much watering every other day right now (too much ?). My lawn is only a year old as of now so beginning of the season watering is quite new to me. Last season i was watering 3 times a week towards the end of the summer when the grass had taken hold, but I think i was giving the grass 10 or less minutes per watering by then.

Like I said, this time last year the grass was band new so I was watering every day so the grass would take hold. Any suggestions would be appreciated. How exactly is the cornmeal applied, and will my dogs go after it? Oh, and I was planning on switching to the highest setting, I'm set the next to highest setting right now. I think the high setting will help with the beta trying to poke thru. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 11:41PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I fling corn meal like I was feeding chickens, by hand. The problem with corn meal and spreaders is that it absorbs humidity and cakes up. In Phoenix, if you apply it on a dry day, you can probably use a drop spreader. You'll have to calibrate yours to the day and time. On days when I could get it to flow, I would set the Scott's spreader wide open and still have to go over it twice to get enough down.

Yes your dogs will have fun while you are applying but they will tire of that fun soon enough.

Back off on the frequency of watering and water longer each time. If the water is not penetrating immediately, that is another issue we can deal with. The idea with this watering is to allow the soil surface to dry completely between cycles. Your grass will live surprisingly long before wilting without frequent watering as long as you are watering deeply. When you water frequently the roots do not need to grow deep. When you withhold it, the roots will dive deeper looking for moisture. That is how you develop drought tolerance for the summer.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:10AM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

Is the cornmeal bought at a feed store, or do they have it at Lowes/Home Depot. And, do I apply it right out of the bag, as in no preparation, or addition of anything?

Also, how often and how long do you water your st Augustine? Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 9:54AM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

bump :D

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:35PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

dchall, I found that I cannot purchase cornmeal in bulk nearby. After scowering the internet, I have come across the below referenced site. Could you tell me which of the cornmeal bags listed on the site is close to what you use?

The Grain Mill

I only ask because some say that they are yellow, white, course, fine, and then some specify if they have germ or no germ (not sure what that means). I'm just trying to ensure that I buy the correct stuff. Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Or you can just use a fungicide.

If it's not fungus, it's SAD.

Here is a link that might be useful: SAD

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 9:31PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Did you call all these places?

Sacate Pellet Mills, Inc.
5555 West Elliot Road, Laveen, AZ
(602) 237-3809 â ÷

C&H Hay Barn
17230 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ
(602) 493-8488 â ÷

Western Milling
310 S 24th Ave # 1, Phoenix, AZ
(602) 251-3600 â ÷

Western Ranchman Store
16028 North 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ
(602) 992-3410 â ÷

Ray's Feed Store
643 West Baseline Road, Phoenix, AZ
(602) 243-0188

Pinal Feeding Co Santa Rosa
120 East Van Buren Street, Phoenix, AZ

2953 East Wahalla Lane, Phoenix, AZ
(623) 582-1147

Mike's Hay Barn II
515 E Carefree Hwy #102, Phoenix, AZ
(623) 414-4346 â ÷

Valley Feed
601 E Main Ave, Phoenix, AZ
(602) 256-7373 â ÷

Santa Maria Co-Op LLC
3836 South 67th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ
(623) 936-8203

Mike Miller Feeds Inc
16010 North 44th Street, Phoenix, AZ
(602) 482-7773 â ÷

Whitey's Hay & Feed
47020 North Black Canyon Highway, New River, AZ
(623) 465-9648

Feed Masters Inc
21438 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ
(623) 533-4280

Pratt's Pets and Feed
5237 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale, AZ
(623) 939-3326 â ÷

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 1:49PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

For fungus control you want whole ground corn meal. You want all the germ, everything. All the corn meal has to do is host a few different varieties of fungus to decompose it. Once those are started, then the good fungus will come.

The other type of corn you will find everywhere is corn gluten meal. CGM has all the starches and sugars stripped away leaving only protein meal. It makes a much better fertilizer than ordinary corn meal. In fact they are at opposite ends of the spectrum of organic fertilizers.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 1:53PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

dchall, I saw on a different thread that you recommend watering once a week if not once every other week for an hour or so in each zone. My question to this is I am in Phoenix where I would assume it is hotter and dryer than in San Antonio (correct me if I am wrong). Is there any watering method you would suggest for me, or would I want to do a similar method to yours. As of right now I am trimming my lawn at about 3" with my mower. I'm not sure If I want to let it grow longer as the grass will start to block my sprinkler heads. Any suggestions watering-wise? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:26PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b


    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 9:13AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Some times of year these messages fly off the bottom faster than you realize. Thanks for the bump.

The original source of the "once a week" rule was a lawn care professional in Phoenix. It took him a while going back and forth here at GW, but he finally convinced me of the benefits. Of course I tried it on myself first and it really is helpful. Others have written in over the years to agree.

If your lawn cannot go a full week without drying out, the first thing I would try is watering a little deeper (longer). How much water your grass needs is very individual. My San Antonio front lawn is St Augustine mowed at 4 inches, under a tall and wide tree, on a slope, shallow limestone rubble soil, relatively humid, temps usually in the mid 90s in summer, good air circulation, and open to the north. The west part of the lawn gets late afternoon sun. My back yard gets a half day of sun but does not have as good air circulation due to surrounding fencing and shrubs. I have another lawn in George West, Texas. It has St Augustine (unmowed), quite a bit of grass in full sun, all day. Soil is sandy, air circ is excellent, humidity is often much lower than in San Antonio, temps are warmer (100s are more common). We have been blessed with well timed rains starting last fall and continuing to this spring. I have only watered the SA home once. The GW home is different. I have watered the short grass (under 6 inches) many times but am not up to once a week yet. Our temps are running in the high 90s currently with lows in the 70s. Most of my tall grass (20 inches) has not been watered since October. Yes, Phoenix is different. Y'all can have insufferable night time heat to go along with the daytime outdoor oven effect. When the temps are high 24/7, then the soil will dry out faster than "normal." So I would start by watering a little longer first and see how that goes. If you can then go a full week in the heat, that's better than doubling up on the frequency. If your soil absolutely will not hold enough water to go longer than 5 days, then you need to move the frequency to 5 days. The whole idea of deep watering is to get water deeper into the soil so your roots will grow deeper. Secondarily if the soil surface dries completely between waterings, then the weed seeds should not sprout. The very worst thing you can do is water a little every day. That leaves you with a very fragile turf and likely a lot of weeds.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 2:44PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

Thanks for the response. The st augustine I have is on the East side of my house (house faces West). I have it cut to 3 inches and probably half to 3/4 day of sun. Right now I am watering at 20 mins per zone at 4am (before sun comes up) every other day. I was thinking of starting this Monday (it was watered this morning, Friday) with 60 mins per zone and see if I can make it to the next Monday to do the same.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 6:21PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b


    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 12:42PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Before you decide how long to water and when, put some tuna or cat food cans out. If you are watering for 20 minutes now, put the cans out to see how much water you are applying. Some sprinklers can dump a huge load of water in 20 minutes. Mine can't but some really can. You don't need more than an inch per week even in the hottest part of summer. It could be yours puts out an inch in 15 minutes so you could really be overwatering your lawn.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 10:41PM
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asudevil311 - zone 9b

Ok, thanks. So basically all st augustine needs is an inch of water per week? And instead of spreading it out over the week, it will be healthier for the lawn to get it all at once.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 1:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Correct. An inch is your starting point. With that starting point I have found that even in the worst drought, my lawn does not need a full inch every week. Every single lawn is different. My neighbor probably needs more than an inch because of the sunlight on his property. I am nearly all trees.

Keep an eye on the grass. Start with an inch and see how that goes. If it needs more, try to apply longer instead of more frequently. If the soil still seems moist/soft after a week, then you need a lot less water or you can go longer. In the winter I water once a month. At my home in George West I am watering about once every 10 days only on the grass that shows stress. On my home in San Antonio, we are not on a fixed schedule yet. It seems to need about 1/3 inch every 14 days now.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:40AM
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