Answer: I think you need to put your lawn on a regular maintenance schedule so it can grow thick and lush. Here's what to do:
March - June
Before greenup, remove dormant grass leaves by mowing to 2 ? inches with a rotary mower that has a newly sharpened blade. Maintain the lawn at 2 ? inches, mowing before it gets to 4 inches. Leave clippings on the lawn.
Apply ? pound of nitrogen (N) per 1,000 square feet in May or 2 weeks after greenup, whichever is last. Use a complete (N-P-K) turfgrade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (12-4-8 or 16-4-8). Yellow appearance may indicate an iron deficiency. Spray iron (ferrous) sulfate (2 ounces in water per 1,000 square feet) or a chelated iron source to enhance color as needed. Submit a soil sample to determine nutrient requirements, if you haven?t already. (Contact your county Cooperative Extension agent for details.) Apply lime if the soil-test report suggests it.
Actively growing St. Augustinegrass requires about 1 inch of water per week, all at once, if possible. If you don?t get enough rain, you will have to water. Sandy soils often require more frequent watering (? inch every third day). Proper irrigation may prevent or reduce pest and other problems.
If crabgrass and goosegrass have been a problem, apply preemergence herbicides by the time dogwoods are in full bloom. Control broadleaf weeds as necessary with postemergence herbicides. St. Augustinegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides (2,4-D and MSMA), so follow label directions and use caution.
Control any white grubs. If drought symptoms or yellow spots occur in a sunny location, check for chinch bug activity. Push a coffee can (with both top and bottom removed) into the ground and fill it with water. Any chinch bugs present will float. Treat for chinch bugs if you have 20 or more chinch bugs per 1,000 square feet. (
If circular patches of brown grass up to several feet in diameter appear, you may have Brown (Large) Patch. Gray Leaf Spot also may be a problem. Control both diseases as necessary with proper fungicides.
Heavy clay soils or heavily trafficked sections of lawn may benefit from aeration. If it is needed, aerate in late spring or early summer when the grass is actively growing and capable of recovery.
Replant large bare areas in May (or when daytime temperatures are continually above 60oF) using plugs planted on 12-inch centers or sprigs space-planted at the rate of 1 ? bushels per 1,000 square feet. (One square yard of turf pulled apart is equivalent to 1 bushel of sprigs.)
June through August:
Mowing; Same as March through May guidelines.
Apply ? pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in June and August and 1 pound of nitrogen in July. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete (N-P-K) fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio.
Watering; same as March through May guidelines.
If thatch was ? inches thick last summer, mow grass to 2 ? inches and use a power rake with 3-inch blade spacing.
Apply postemergence herbicides to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds, such as knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Since St. Augustinegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides (2,4-D and MSMA), follow label directions and use with caution. Do not apply herbicides unless weeds are actively growing and the lawn is not under drought stress. If crabgrass and goosegrass are present, make a note to apply a preemergence herbicide next spring.
If drought symptoms or yellow spots occur in a sunny location, check for chinch bug activity. Push a coffee can (with both top and bottom removed) into the ground and fill it with water. Any chinch bugs present will float. Treat for chinch bugs if you have 20 or more chinch bugs per 1,000 square feet.
Sept. through November:
Mowing ; Same as March through May guidelines.
DO NOT fertilize St. Augustinegrass after August 31.
Water to prevent drought stress while the grass is actively growing and after the lawn goes dormant to prevent excessive dehydration.
Follow June through August guidelines.
Check for thatch layer in early September. If the thatch layer is ? inches thick, plan to dethatch in the spring.
If crabgrass and goosegrass are present, plan to apply a preemergence herbicide next spring.
Dec. - February;
Do not apply fertilizer or lime.
Although the lawn will be dormant, water occasionally to prevent excessive dehydration.
Apply broadleaf herbicides to control chickweed, henbit, etc. St. Augustinegrass is sensitive to certain postemergence herbicides like 2,4-D and MSMA, so follow label directions for reducing rates, and use with caution. Selected herbicides like atrazine and simazine can be applied in November or December to control annual bluegrass and several winter annual broadleaf weeds. Read the label and follow directions carefully.
Once you get your lawn on a regular maintenance schedule it will look as good, if not better, than your neighbor's!
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