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Need advice to get my lawn in shape
Old 01-10-2016, 08:56 AM   #1
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Need advice to get my lawn in shape

I live in Houston, TX and have a St. Augustine lawn. I have checked the sprinklers and the lawn is getting good water coverage. Despite that, my lawn looks like crap. The problems are in the attached photos but summarized:

  • Some areas are thick St. Augustine
  • Some areas are thin and patchy with the soil showing through
  • Some areas are overrun with little round leaf weeds (see photo 3 - dollarweed?) or other weeds
  • Some areas have a thinner grass growing through them (rye? bermuda?)
Since this is Houston, spring will be here soon and I want to get started right this year. Can anyone give me some advice on what products to use and when to use them to get this looking good?
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg 2.JPG (279.3 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg 3.JPG (243.3 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg 4.JPG (336.0 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg 5.JPG (203.4 KB, 21 views)
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Old 01-10-2016, 09:05 AM   #2
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Based on living in TX and trying to maintain a San Augustine lawn for more than 25 years, here's what I found works best:
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Old 01-10-2016, 09:17 AM   #3
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Aerate
Overseed in the fall (or before pre-emergent)
Broadleaf and crabgrass control.
fertilize and water

Or hire a service. They would do the same.

The creeping charlie can be killed with a broad leaf killer, such as Ortho weed-b-gone.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senator View Post
Aerate
Overseed in the fall (or before pre-emergent)
Broadleaf and crabgrass control.
fertilize and water

Or hire a service. They would do the same.

The creeping charlie can be killed with a broad leaf killer, such as Ortho weed-b-gone.
That pretty well covers it. Not rocket science.
Also, don't mow it too short. That's the biggest mistake and the easiest to correct.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senator View Post
Aerate
Overseed in the fall (or before pre-emergent)
Broadleaf and crabgrass control.
fertilize and water

Or hire a service. They would do the same.

The creeping charlie can be killed with a broad leaf killer, such as Ortho weed-b-gone.
It's not advisable or recommended to "over-seed" (with rye) St. Augustine grass in the Fall/Winter. St. Augustine is a creeping grass (vine-like) and requires very little care. Fertilize twice per year in Houston (April/October).

Aeration is OK and use a weed killer. ST.Augustine requires about 1" of water 2 - 3 times per week in hot weather, less in cool weather. In the winter, St. Augustine goes dormant and requires NO water.

Actually, the less you do to it, the better it becomes (Just do the minimum).
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Old 01-11-2016, 01:40 PM   #6
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Regular fertilizing, of course, plus pre-emergent, broadleaf, and likely grub poisons...
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Old 01-11-2016, 02:01 PM   #7
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you need to hire a service, I used to maintain a lawn in Houston and if you have plenty of water, there are probably two causes for the dry patches


1) fungus - you need to put down a fungicide on the brown, circular patches
2) cinch bugs - you need to coat the yard with a good bug killer


it wouldn't hurt to pay someone like trugreen chemlawn (or someone similar) for a season, I don't know what they charge but it wasn't that much when I used them


and correct, you do not overseed st Augustine, you can try plugging the spots just make sure you water them every day for a week
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Old 01-11-2016, 02:03 PM   #8
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bad photo 1 looks like fungus to me, the last two look like cinch bugs
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Old 01-11-2016, 03:10 PM   #9
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I'd keep it simple ... In February ... Kill everything with Round Up. Wait a week, anything that doesn't look dead, spray again. Wait, and continue this step until everything is brown.

Then reseed, and lay straw/hay on top. Following a good watering regimen, and within a few weeks, you will have perfect grass with no patches.
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Old 01-11-2016, 04:11 PM   #10
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I may be wrong but I don't think you seed St. A. Lived in FL for 19 years and IIRC you either sod or plug it. Thread reminds me I don't miss FL yard care.
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Old 01-11-2016, 04:34 PM   #11
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See post #5, taken right off our water company brochure on St. Augustine grass care.

I have had a great lawn in Houston suburbs for 25 years with minimum care and no expensive lawn service to pay. This is the easiest grass to maintain and I have had lawns in CT, CA,and MI.
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Old 01-11-2016, 04:41 PM   #12
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See post #5, taken right off our water company brochure on St. Augustine grass care.

I have had a great lawn in Houston suburbs for 25 years with minimum care and no expensive lawn service to pay. This is the easiest grass to maintain and I have had lawns in CT, CA,and MI.
agreed, the key to thriving st. Augustine is proper watering (and shade!)
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:17 PM   #13
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Take a few soil samples and have it tested. Many state ag agencies will do this service. A simple fertilization may be all you need.

I always used Diazanon on my grass when I noticed too many birds pecking in it--to kill the grub worms around July 4th.
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:20 PM   #14
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Once you get it healthy, apply a 1/2 inch of quality compost and repeat once per year. Compost is the lawn miracle drug.
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:29 PM   #15
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OK, I'm a midwest corn and soybean agronomist and not a Houston turfgrass expert but would say you are on the right track by identifying the various issues. Check https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/ to try to ID some of your weed and disease issues. The site also has a listing of Cooperative Extension offices. If there is one close to you, they might have a turf specialist who can help ID your various problems and give you pointers to cure them.

Weeds and bugs are generally easy to control with selective herbicides and insecticides but must be identified to be sure you are treating them with the proper product. Diseases tend to be a bit more difficult because almost all diseases should be treated well before you can see them. Probably start applying a fungicide in the next few weeks but he can help you with the proper timing.

As others have said, it's not rocket science but you have several things going on. Just figure them out one at a time and treat it.
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Old 01-12-2016, 09:08 AM   #16
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Thanks for the tips.

I'm trying to save things before it gets to the point of having to re-sod the entire lawn.

Fungicide and broad leaf herbicide are good thoughts. I need to look for chinch bugs.

I raised the mower height to the second highest setting last year so that should not be a problem.

I called Scotts and TruGreen and they want ~$800 for a year of monthly treatments. I can do that, but prefer to DIY if this isn't rocket science.
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Old 01-12-2016, 09:29 AM   #17
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give it a shot - you need to be putting on that fungicide now, wait on the bug killer, go ahead and plug a few spots, hand water those plugs every day for a week
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Old 01-12-2016, 09:34 AM   #18
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When I lived in Houston , I seldom had a problem with my lawn(s), but I did occasionally deal with fungus issues. (Don't recall what I used to resolve it but it wasn't hard.) For years I would fertilize and water the lawns but would "cuss" it all spring and summer long while I was cutting and raking it.

The only real problem I had was with the front lawn of my last house. The front of the house faced directly north and had a some really big shade trees in the yard. Being a 2 story house and having big shade trees, it just didn't get much sun and it was hard to keep thick grass no matter what I did.

Your first picture looks a lot like my lawn did in the back yard, the last picture looks a lot like my front yard did.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:45 AM   #19
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Neil Sperry is a good source for all green growing things in Texas, he has a very good Facebook page, but here is a website article that might help you:
Identifying Issues of St. Augustine Lawn Management - Neil Sperry's GARDENS
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:45 PM   #20
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I fix bare spots on my lawn every year. It's pretty simple...

1) Rake out whatever remains in the bare spot (thatch, weeds, etc)
2) Sprinkle on a very thin layer of good soil (the kind you find in your nursery)
3) Cover the area generously with grass seed.
4) Sprinkle on another very thin layer of soil to cover the seed.
5) Water every day if you can.

The more sunshine, the quicker you'll have grass. Mine usually takes about 2 weeks. Once the new grass starts coming in, I give the area a little more seed which results in a nice full patch of grass. Good luck.
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