st augustine floratam maintainance

grd2345May 31, 2012

I installed this grass exactly 1 month ago.

It already went through its first cut.

It is not 100% green, there is still green/brownish green in areas.

Is this normal for a 1 month install.

When can i start fertilizing?

What is the best water schedule I should use?

What kind of fertilizer?

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Most states have an extension service -- an offspring of one or more of their universities. Do a search -- florida extension service -- or georgia extension service -- and you will find that lawn information is widely available. They have publications to describe the amount of water, height of cutting, fertilizer, and bug, weed, and fungus treatments for most grasses. Here is the web site for Florida.
One precaution for Floratam is the weed killer - making sure that you read the label on herbicides and weed/feed fertilizer. Atrazine is good for Floratam weed kills.
It is best that you do some self education from such sources then come back for missing info -- since there is much that you have not already said regarding the period of time before you planted as well as whether you used a starter fertilizer when planting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Extension Service

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:04AM
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I am in zone 9.
I did not use starter fertilizer when installing.
Soil is sandy type.
It has been a month since install.

1. How many times a week should I water.
2. When should i fertilize for first time.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:29PM
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I believe dchall will be along some time later today to provide you with accurate and reliable information (and probably some questions for you, also) related to your original post.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:40PM
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ok, i will wait for him.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:14PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Here I am!!

You should water no more often than once per week NORMALLY. Your situation may not be normal. Watering really depends on Mother Nature, humidity, fog, shade, sun, clouds, wind, grass type, mowing height, soil condition, soil type, and probably something else. The idea is to allow the soil/sand surface to completely dry out before you water again. But furthermore, you should really wait for the grass to tell you when to water. St Augustine can be very unforgiving if it dries out. Watch for the FIRST sign of drying anywhere in the lawn and then water the entire lawn. Use your judgement based on shade, wind, etc.

Start by raising your mowing height all the way to the top. If you don't cut any grass at all for several weeks, that's fine. Eventually it will all be up around 4 inches high. Mulch mow when it gets up to 5 inches high. Tall grass takes much less water than short grass. I have a low water use demonstration program in my yard. I have not mowed my lawn since October. Parts of the lawn have survived quite nicely with no supplemental irrigation since then. This lawn is on the edge of the Texas desert so it is not exactly a bayou here. If we don't get a surprise storm today or tomorrow, then I am about to water the last hold out grass. This grass is in full shade all day long. Without mowing it is about 20 inches high and has great color. My only point is that tall grass needs less water and possibly much less water. Short grass needs water all the time.

Start your watering with with one inch and see how long the grass can go without wilting. As soon as you see it wilting, water immediately. If it has been less than a week since you watered last time, then water longer this time. Try to go a full week without watering. Measure your watering rate with tuna or cat food cans. Time how long it takes YOUR sprinkler system to fill the cans. That is about an inch. Mine takes 8 to 16 full hours depending on how I set it up. Other systems only take 15 minutes. You need to measure your own and not make any assumptions based on mine.

As to fertilizer: are you interested in an inexpensive organic approach or do you want something like the Scott's 12-step method? Back in 2002 I switched to organics and have written considerably about organic lawn care. Go to the Organic Gardening forum and find the FAQs. At the bottom of the list is the Organic Lawn Care FAQ. It is all over the Internet lawn forums. Seems to be a good place for most people to start out. You can start with organics at any time.

I'm concerned about the brown spots in the grass. Can you post a picture? Is it possible the sod did not make good contact with the soil/sand underneath? If it has knit into the soil, then you might have a disease going on. That needs to be treated if that is what it is. St Aug has a tough time if it gets diseased, but that's why you bought Floratam.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:39PM
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it doesnt look too bad, i will post pics to see if this is normal color or not. thanks for you info. i will try this watering technique. thanks. it is almost 100 degress and in full sun so i am nervous that my sandy dirt will dry up quickly.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:34PM
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If i wanted to go NON-ORGANIC, when can I start?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 12:07PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I'd be inclined to wait until Labor Day at this point. Actually Labor Day works for most of the country. It might not work in Florida. Might have to wait longer - when the night time temps start to fall.

You should be nervous. The grass roots are not deep enough...yet. Watch it carefully. If the water is down deep, the roots will grow to find it. And so will the soil's beneficial fungi.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 2:44AM
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dam, i already threw some organic natural stuff on it. I hope i did not mess it up for putting it too soon.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 11:22AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Okay what are you talking about? Organic or chemical?

Organic you can put out any day of the year.

With chemicals you should avoid the heat.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 11:32PM
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i put organic stuff, not chemical.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 2:10AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

What did you apply and how much? Please feel free to offer as much information as you have. I feel like we're playing 20 questions.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:25AM
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i put Scotts Natural Lawn Food. I have 7,000 square feet lawn, front and back and i put 2 bags, but wow, now the grass is getting dark green. The sprinkler guy came over and told me the grass looks nice so fast. I think this organic food stuff is working good.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 5:00PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Yes organic does work. The reason yours greened up quickly is the nature of the Scott's. They use meat meal and blood meal. Both of those are considered fast acting. Hydrolyzed feather meal, the main ingredient in Scott's, is very slow to work, so they balance it with the fast acting ingredients. I don't know what you paid for the Scott's but it is usually less expensive to use something like alfalfa pellets at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

How does your lawn look now with respect to the original issue? Do you have any brown areas or are they cleared up now? And have you changed your watering?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 12:09AM
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It is looking better. i just cut it on highest setting. The brown areas have cleared up. I have not watered it since last wednesday and still looking green. the only issue i have is this grass grows so fast. i have to cut it like every 5 days. is this normal.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:30PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

It is normal for it to grow, sure. I would not mow more than once a week, though. I've never held to the 1/3 rule. Once it gets up to the highest setting, you should be able to go a full week easily. Here's how that math works.

St Aug usually grows 1 inch per week. If you mowed it down from 2 inches to 1 inch high, then you could be removing 50%. If it was mowed back from 5 inches to 4 inches, then you are only removing 20%.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 3:46AM
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We are new residents of Florida. We live on the East Coast (Melbourne) and just built a new home. The home is gorgeous but the St. Augustine Floratam looks abysmal. It was installed in October of last year. Shortly after the installation there was a cold spell. The landscaper had also installed Palms and Plants. My daughter in law (her fr is the the builder) and one of my BEST friends--turned the sprinkler on daily. I suspect it may have run every day for 5-6 weeks. I was up North and she thought the plants were in jeoperdy due to the cold shock. The plants/palms are fine. THe lawn is brown all over--isn't growing--looks pathetic. My lawn guy cut it once in the last month. Its not growing either. He fertilized last month which would have been month 4 after the install. He keeps reassuring me it will come back. After 5 months I have my doubts.
I think it may have been OVER irrigated? it also doesn't appear to be knitting into the base soil. You can peel it back like a carpet.
I told my guy to quit cutting until we see improvement. I'm now watering it 3 day's a week---45 minutes /per zone--4 zones.
I have been in touch with U of Fla and they have an extension in Cocoa. I will take a piece up for their evaluation.
What are your thoughts. I can take PICS if you'd like and forward them to you.. THank you very much for your analysys. Warm regards/Bob

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 6:00PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Well! Sorry to break it to you but it's been dead since about 2 weeks into that 5-week watering plan last year. it should have been watered about 5-10 times total since October and then only because it was new sod. Then from late November to now it should have been watered a total of 3 times. So, yes, it has been over watered. You may as well pick it all up and create a compost pile.

There is a very strong chance that you have the disease which killed the grass instilled in your soil underneath. Once you get all the old sod out, I would scatter some compost over it at a rate of 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet. At the same time I would apply ordinary corn meal at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Together the compost and corn meal should take care of the disease organisms in about 3 weeks. After that you should be free to put down fresh sod. Corn meal attracts a beneficial fungus which is predatory on the disease fungi. It takes 3 weeks to work but it works pretty well for me. I've used it every year since I found out about it in 2002. Before that I had dead spots year after year.

Next time you put down sod, water it 3x per day but very lightly each time. Do that for 2 weeks or until the roots knit into the underlying soil. Once that starts to happen back off on the frequency and go up on the duration. Measure your sprinkler output by putting empty cat food or tuna cans around the yard. Time how long it takes to apply a full inch. That is your goal for ALL future watering. But you have to promise you will never water mature turf on a daily basis. You cannot go cold turkey straight to once per week, but get there gradually. At the most in SE FL you should be watering once per week during the hottest part of summer. When it cools into the 80s you should start backing off on the frequency to every 2 weeks. In the winter it should be once per month.

I live in drought stricken Texas and this watering plan works. I've done some experiments with a house in George West, TX on the edge of the desert. I have parts of my lawn in the deep shade which have not been watered by me since October of 2011. 2012 was a very dry year and 2013 was not much better. I'm doing other things with the lawn as part of the experiment, but the point is, you don't need nearly as much water as you're giving it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:48PM
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