The Q&A Archives: South West Florida Lawn Care = Fire Ants, Green Lawns, & Animals

Question: (3) areas of concerns. The fire ants are killing my lawn and al the products Ive tried burn the grass out. Isnt there something I can use to treat the entire lawn? How do I get my grass healthy and green? Also, some kind of animal, aridillo, ant eater or whatever is coming late at night and digging holes all over the yard. Any ideas? They seem to like to dig down to the sand.

Answer: Morr,

Fire ants can be controlled by a combination of dates and non-treatments. The following website provides information on how to do this:

Good lawn care can be summarized in three cultural practices: mowing, watering and fertilizing. If you will do these three properly, your lawn will be the best on the block!

Frequent mowing is better than infrequent mowing. Mow on a 5-7 day schedule, removing no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. For example, a St. Augustine turf should be mowed to 2 1/2" when it reaches 3", while a semi-dwarf bermuda or zoysia would be mowed to 1 1/2 or 2" when it reached 2 or 2 1/2".
While many homeowners like to water 15 minutes a day, your turf will benefit from a good soaking applied less often. Apply 1/2 to 1 inch of water once or twice a week. A coffee can makes a good rain gauge to test out how long it will need to be run to apply an inch. Frequent wetting promotes disease problems and a shallow rooted turf. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and the grass will develop a deep root system and do much better.

Fertilize with no more than 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen in spring after you have mowed the grass twice, and again in fall (around late October). Apply a product with a 3-1-2 ratio of nutrients as this is roughly the ratio of nutrients grass takes in. So, for example, if you purchased a 15-5-10 fertilizer (15% nitrogen), you would apply about 7 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .15 = about 7). If you purchased a 21-7-14 fertilizer (21 % nitrogen), you would apply about 5 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .21 = about 5).

Healthy turf will choke out most of its weed problems. When the turf is thin and soil is exposed to the sunlight, weeds will sprout and you have a battle on your hands. So first concentrate on the above 3 cultural practices and you will be amazed at the results.

I suspect the animal damaging your lawn is an armadillo. These can be excluded with low fencing or you can trap them in a live trap and then relocate them to another area. The following website provides more information on how to do this:

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