Pro Tips From Central Florida Sod & Turf Experts

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St. Augustine Grass Maintenance In Central Florida

Apr 18, 2017 | Lawn Care


The most efficient and least costly way to irrigate is to only do it when the grass requires it. Give enough water so that the soil is wet to about 4 inches deep. This encourages the roots to grow deeper, which helps the grass tolerate dry conditions better. You can tell by looking at the grass when it is time to water it again. The color will start to change to a blue-green. At this point, it’s time for another deep watering. You can also tell the grass needs watering when you walk on it. If the grass does not rebound quickly after you step on it, it needs to be watered again.Don’t irrigate the grass at night, this creates moist conditions which promote disease. It is best to water St. Augustine in the early morning so the surface of the soil will dry by evening.

Mowing St. Augustine Grass

Most types of St. Augustine do best at a height of three or four inches. If you are installing a new lawn and you would like a lower cut, you may want to look into planting a dwarf species. For example, Delmar is a dwarf cultivar that can be cut to 2 inches.A level cutting surface should be maintained to prevent scalping the grass. Keep in mind, dwarf species are more susceptible to insects and disease.

It’s important to sharpen the cutting blades because dull blades can cause the grass to shred and cause it to appear light brown.

New Sod Installation

Laying down new sod is costly, but it’s the quickest method for establishing a lawn. There are businesses, such as Lake Jem Farms, that offer this service. Prior to installation, it is important to grade and fertilize the soil to ensure your grass will thrive. If the grading is not done properly, the lawn mower will rise and fall and scalp portions of the lawn.

Daily watering is needed until the roots are established and firmly attached to the soil. This may take several weeks. Daily watering prevents the roots from drying. Don’t water at night and don’t water so much that the sod is “water logged”.Avoid mowing the grass until the roots have been established or the sod may be lifted off the ground and get shredded in your mower.

Additional methods of planting St. Augustine are called sprigging and plugging. Sprigging involves planting the stolons of the grass. The stolons should be covered with a fine layer of soil. This promotes rooting. It is additional work, but the results will be much better. Plugging involves planting squares of grass that are about 10 inches apart and waiting for the spaces to fill in.

St. Augustine Seeding

St. Augustine grass seed has a very poor performance, and for this reason, it is often unavailable. It is very difficult to grow St. Augustine grass from seeds. Hence, the vast majority of lawns are laid from sod that comes from an experienced grower.

Fertilizing St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine needs 2 kg (4.4 lbs.) of nitrogen for a 1000 square foot area each year. If it is new grass that has just been planted with stolons or plugs you should use one pound of nitrogen every month per 1000 square foot area from May to September.Don’t fertilize mature grass too much because it promotes the growth of thatch and causes disease and insect problems.

Quite often, fertilization perplexes people. To fertilize correctly, you must know the quantity of nitrogen that is used. When fertilizer is sold, there is always an indication of the percent of nitrogen it contains. Therefore, the quantity of nitrogen that is used can be calculated.

St. Augustine Thatch

Thatch can be created by St. Augustine grass.Using too much fertilizer is a primary cause of thatch. Acidic soil may also cause thatch. An application of limestone will raise the ph and prevent thatch. You can test your soil to determine its PH. Excessive watering can also result in thatch build up. Avoid watering when it is unnecessary.

Thatch is a layer of organic material that forms between the grass and the soil. It is mostly made up of stems and shed roots. The roots of grass are completely shed two times a year and new roots grow as a replacement. Thatch can create a barrier that impedes the flow of water and nutrients to the roots. New roots will often grow in the thatch. This causes problems because the thatch does not retain as much moisture as the soil does. When the thatch dries the new roots will die.If thatch totally dries out it can form a crust that water cannot penetrate. The thatch can also impede the penetration of pesticides and fertilizers and they can become trapped within the thatch and thus not reach the soil as intended.

The soil can be aerated to penetrate the thatch and allow air and water to get to the roots of the grass. Let the cores that result from aeration remain on the grass to decay naturally and provide nutrients for the grass.

A top dressing of organic material is sometimes spread over the grass surface. This organic layer will provide food for bacteria that are beneficial, because they feed on the thatch and reduce the size of the thatch layer.