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need some help making my new lawn happy

Posted by Tetrasofdium SE Florida (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 23:19

Last week, I bought the house I was renting out & want to do some things to help my poor lawn

I'm not sure if there is a type of grass, but with only two small palm trees for shade, the gras tends to go through phases where bits get dry/withered & comes back sparsely.
I know the soil is "sandy" just because that's the only kind we have down here :)

I have no crickets, no earthworms (I know this is bad), but tons of snails that range in size from pencil eraser to thumb sized
Prior to my purchase last week, the landlord would have a guy "mow" it with a weedwacker. I doubt he applied anything to it

Being florida, it rains regularly, buut now that I own the house, I'm really starting to noticethe large sandy patches around the two palm trees & seening poor health of the lawn in general (on the front/east side )compared to some of the neighbors or the lawn or my own on the north side between the house & a long privacy fence. there is not really any foot traffic in the affected areas because of a concrete walkway/path. should I just go to a bait shop & buy a big thingof earthworms, & start throwing my used tea leaves in the grass seeing what happens from there? or should I try something else first/in addition?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: need some help making my new lawn happy

I would suggest a soil test to start

RE: need some help making my new lawn happy

A soil test is going to tell you that you have sand with no nutrients. Let's get some grass growing first.

St Augustine loves a little shade. Bermuda, the other popular grass in FL, will not grow in any shade. For full sun the best one to get is the Floratam variety.

There are a couple tricks to growing St Augustine. First is to mow it at the mower's highest setting. Let it get up to 5 or 6 inches tall before mowing it back down to 4. Second, it absolutely must have deep water every so often. When temps are 90 or above, you will have to water a full inch every 5-7 days in full sun. This time of year you might get away with watering every 3-4 weeks (always a full inch as measured by cat food or tuna cans).

Forget about worms. They might come later or might not. The best thing to improve your sand is to use organic fertilizer. If you really have fine, white, sugar sand, then any amount of compost you can afford, up to 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet, would be helpful. My favorite organic fertilizer is alfalfa pellets (rabbit chow). Apply at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet as often as you want to or can afford. Grain type organic fertilizers take 3 full weeks to see any improvement. They are called "slow release" but that's sort of a misnomer. They release fast but not to the plants. The fertilizer feeds the soil microbes and they feed the plants. Being a biological process it takes time. Over time your white sand will appear almost black. Don't be fooled into thinking your sand is changing. What's happening is the microbes and grass are leaving behind organic matter that will help to hold moisture and provide other benefits to your soil.

As for the snails, find some cheap ammonium sulfate fertilizer and scatter that around. Ammonium sulfate looks like rock salt and has exactly the same effect on snails and slugs. They bubble up and die. We had a big infestation back in the 90s. I used that stuff (before I became organic) and we haven't seen a snail since. Incredible!!

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