St. Augustine lawn help

slingblade1177May 14, 2013

Hey guys,

I posted here about a year ago and got some good advice so I'm trying again. I bought St. Augustine sod for my lawn and I planted it in late September last year as instructed by you guys. I used a dethatcher before laying the sod and that seemed to do a good job.

I now have patchy areas in my lawn. The sod was in pretty good shape when I got it but some of the pieces weren't as green. Anyway, I'm not sure why my lawn is so patchy. My dad seems to think it will fill in eventually, but I'm having a hard time believing that.

As of spring, I watered once a week. We got some decent rain throughout the spring, but not so much in the last month, so this last week I started watering twice a week. I do have a sprinkler system that my dad and I installed and I run each zone roughly 30 minutes.

I got lazy and paid for fertilizer service. They started in January and have done about 4 treatments. There are 4 more to go. I honestly don't know what each one was, but I'm sure it's your typical lawn service fertilizer program. I should add that I'm in the North Texas area. I live in Frisco, Texas.

I will say that the areas that seem to be the most patchy are areas where there is not much shade. The shaded areas seems to be doing ok. You might be able to tell in the last pic that my neighbors yard is completely shaded and their St. Augustine is great. They laid their sod two years ago.

I have attached pics. Can anyone tell me what might be going on? Thanks

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texas-weed(7A)

You are in Frisco with less than 1 year old sod right? Weather this spring in your area is record cold, and what I see is shock either from cold or drought. Not much to worry about make sure you are watering and feeding properly. Once the weather straightens out you should be OK.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 5:45PM
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slingblade1177

I am in Frisco and it is less than a year old sod. I laid it last September. I agree that it has been unusually cold, it just seems like it is growing so well on the west side of my house where there is good shade and not so well in the more sunny areas. Will St. Augustine spread that well? If so, how long will it take?

I will keep watering and feeding.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 6:19PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Well your neighbor's sod is established while yours not so much with less than a season of growth is not.

SA spreads quite fast. Relax for now. I do not see any real problem like a fungus or disease, and it is too early for cinch bugs. Just give it proper maintenance and keep an eye on it. I suspect now that warm weather has arrived, the cosmetic problem will go away.

For now mow high, fertilize regularly about every 45 days, and pay attention to watering. Since your sod is so young it has not had a chance to set deep roots yet and I think is the root cause of your issues. The shallow roots cannot take up much water being so shallow and will require more frequent watering.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:32PM
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slingblade1177

Thanks for the info. One more question. What is the purpose of mowing high?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 11:58PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

St aug look better when mow high (3 inches). More drought hardy. More weed resistant (shades out weed seeds). Deeper root system.

I don't really fertilize that much as TW suggested. I've found that by not fertilizing during the summer, they need less water. I usually fertilize April 1st, June 1st, then whenever heat breaks in September as final fertilizing of the year.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:00AM
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texas-weed(7A)

I don't really fertilize that much as TW suggested. I've found that by not fertilizing during the summer, they need less water. I usually fertilize April 1st, June 1st, then whenever heat breaks in September as final fertilizing of the year.

I do not have a problem with that. I do agree with mow high.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 12:42PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I'm doing an experiment with unmowed St Augustine. Originally I did not think the grass would get taller than 10 inches, but it is easily 36 inches in one spot under a tree. Here is a picture I took last year.

The purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate the benefits that lou mentioned above. I stopped mowing in October of 2011. The location is George West, TX on the edge of the Texas desert. Temps are above 95 from mid May through mid October with humidity running 40-50% most of the time. Since then I have only watered the grass when and where it was calling out to me for water. At no time have I watered more frequently than once per week. There is one spot under a tree on the east side of the house where I have not watered at all since 10/2011. In fact that is where the dog picture was taken. At the time it was about 30 inches high right there. Also since then I have not fertilized and used no insecticide or herbicide. As you can see there is no weed pressure at all - and I am surrounded by fields of King Ranch bluestem. There are places in the yard with plenty of bluestem, bermuda, and other weeds, but those areas are not part of this experiment. So the point of mentioning this is that taller St Aug will resist all the problems you might have with anything else. I always suggest people weld their mower at the highest position to prevent your well-meaning brother in lawn from doing you a favor and scalping your lawn back down "to where it should be." Tall St Aug (4 inches, not 40) is very lush looking and will solve your problems.

Another issue you should watch for is drought stress near the sidewalk. Sidewalks take up sunlight all day and remain warm much longer that the soil under the grass. The soil near the sidewalk will get warmer during the day and remain warm until the next day. This tends to drive off the moisture through evaporation near the sidewalk and dry out the grass. The solution is to water more deeply, not more often.

Generally I agree that your only problem is the grass roots are not up to speed yet. Give it another month and take another picture to compare. You should see improvement. Set your mower high, water deeply and infrequently, and fertilize and you will have a lawn like your neighbor. I prefer organic fertilizer because I am lazy and don't like to measure, but you can use chemical and get good results, too.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 10:10PM
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slingblade1177

Thanks dchall. I will definitely mow higher. I never even thought about the sidewalk area causing the soil to remain at a higher temperature. That is good to know. Does "water more deeply not more often" mean to simply water more on that area for my one watering day a week?

I am also confused about the grass roots not up to speed. It seems that if the roots are up to speed in most areas then they should be in all areas. I'm not trying to poke holes in the theory, but it does not make sense to me.

I really appreciate all the advice you guys are giving me. I'm just trying to get the healthiest looking lawn.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 11:38PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Water more deeply means to water longer, yes.

If your roots were all the same, I would expect the grass to be uniform looking. As you said, it is patchy. Unless you are only watering the green patches, then something is up with the roots.

What kind of sprinkler are you using? It is a rainbird type or a gear-driven that shoots water out over the grass.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:25PM
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slingblade1177

My lawn has different heads in different locations. My main front lawn is covered by two gear driven heads per side. They overlap. The rest of my lawn is covered by the rainbird type.

I have noticed the patchy spots in areas covered by both types of sprinkler. I do worry that maybe the gear driven heads aren't doing a good enough job. I water for 45 minutes with them. The others I water for 30 minutes. Do you think those are adequate times?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 12:38PM
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