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St. Augustine Grass - High Quality - Schedule A Delivery

Are you looking for St Augustine sod or St. Augustine grass in the San Antonio area?

We offer high quality St. Augustine sod at a very affordable price. If your home needs a beautiful and healthy new lawn, we can help! Maybe you are working on a home improvement project, and you need your outdoor landscape up to par. Refresh your outdoor area by having a healthy, green lawn in your front yard, as well as your backyard. Schedule Delivery

We have accumulated the information on this page to help you manage a new St. Augustine lawn in San Antonio. We have tips for the professionals and your weekend gardner. This includes tips on controlling bugs, watering your St. Augustine yard, picking the correct type of lawn mower to the methods of identifying St. Augustine grass & fertilizing a new and established St. Augustine lawn. In San Antonio & South Texas a majority of home owners will have the same question "How Do I Repair My Yard", We also include tricks and suggestions you will need to repair and upgrade your St. Augustine lawn.

We'll have you enjoying your weekends this year, not working them. We are Locally owned and operated in San Antonio,TX, and we appreciate your support of local businesses!

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Grass Plant Growth and its Relationship to Lawncare

A lawn is an area of land covered by many individual turfgrass plants. In fact, a lawn may be considered a garden area comprised of many individual grass plants rather than just a few flower or vegetable plants. It has been reported that in a typical 1,000 square feet of lawn there are about 1 million grass plants.

The first step in any lawn care plan should be to provide an ideal environment for growth and function of grass plants. A healthy, vigorous lawn is the best defense against attack or invasion of various pests. Also, a healthy lawn is much more capable of quickly recovering from modest damage caused by insects, diseases, or physical wear and tear.

Creating a healthy lawn environment is like any other type of gardening. The same good practices used in vegetable and flower gardens are just as appropriate for growing grass plants. The means to achieve those conditions are somewhat different for lawns than gardens, but are just as important for healthy grass plants as for healthy tomatoes.

As with other garden plants, knowledge about the plant and how it grows is often the key to successful growing. Large juicy tomatoes, fresh crisp lettuce, and colorful marigolds are the result of applying knowledge about those plants to growing them in the garden. Likewise, similar knowledge about the grass plant will be very helpful in successfully growing it and creating a healthy attractive lawn.

St. Augustine grass, scientifically known as stenotaphrum secundatum, is a popular, warm-weather grass. Found in California and the southeastern coastal line of the United States, the hardy St. Augustine grass provides a rich green color and thick coverage. Designed for warm weather, winter can be brutal on this grass species. Take care of St. Augustine grass in the winter by promoting a healthy lawn during the warmer months.

Proper Planting Areas

St. Augustine grows from South Carolina, stretching through Florida and Georgia all the way to Texas. This grass also is commonly found in California. The one similar trait of these states is that they are not usually subject to extremely cold temperatures. In Georgia, St. Augustine grass is rarely grown north of central Georgia due to the occasional frosts that hit the area.

The first step to properly care for this grass in the winter is to only plant it in proper climates. The lethal temperature for St. Augustine grass ranges from 25 to 18 degrees F. If your area remains above these temperature levels, growing St. Augustine grass is feasible. If not, consider other grass options.

Ensuring Health Before Winter

Even if your climate does remain above the lethal temperature window, winter can still wreak havoc on St. Augustine grass. A healthy lawn during the spring, summer and autumn months will prepare your lawn for winter. Fertilize your lawn to help protect it from winter lows. Use a phosphorous-heavy or well-rounded fertilizer after the first three months of planting. This is the crucial growth period. Fertilizing in this time period will ensure thick and heavy coverage. Fertilize every subsequent month after the initial fertilization with a nitrogen-based fertilizer. Follow the directions found on the package for proper application of the fertilizers.

Winterizing

Several winterizing methods will help your St. Augustine grass come back strong in spring. Mow your lawn evenly and cut it to a length of about 2 inches on your last trimming before winter. This concentrates the nutrients in a smaller section of the grass. During the rest of the year, do not cut your grass too short; cut only the top one-third of the grass blade. This will allow your grass to re-seed itself, helping it remain thick and hardy during the winter.

Remove all major debris from your lawn, including lawn tables, branches or anything that covers a substantial area of your sod. If you have pets, watch for areas where they urinate frequently. The acid can kill the grass, especially in the winter months. Hose down these areas to dilute the urine concentration.

Rake up heavy collections of leaves. A thick layer of leaves cuts down the oxygen intake of the grass.

How Do I Fix Dead Spots

St. Augustine grass is a common choice for lawns because of its low maintenance and quick growing cycle. It is also a hardy grass, which makes it ideal for hotter climates. Even the easiest of grasses, however, can become thin if not cared for properly.

Identifying the Problem

Check your yard to see if you can discover what caused the bare patch. Is the grass in a too shady area? Perhaps trees should be trimmed to allow more light to filter through. Over or under watering can also cause bare patches. Grass should be watered enough to completely soak the grass, but not enough to leave puddles of water for any length of time. Grass can also become choked by weeds or dead grass layers from winter or previous grass plantings. Treat the lawn with weed killer or other treatment to clear away competing plants. Fallen leaves can also cause grass to choke and die. Make sure to keep the lawn well raked and free of debris.

Grass Plugs

The best time to plant grass plugs or sprigs is during the spring when there is no danger of frost and the temperatures have not yet skyrocketed. The first part of repairing bare spots in any kind of grass is to eliminate all of the old, dead grass. A thatching rake can be used for this, and can be very effective at removing old and dead grasses. Make sure to pull up all of the old grass, including the roots. Dig holes for the plugs equaling about 6 inches square. Grass plugs are a lot like mini grass-sod squares and should be treated in a similar manner. Plant the plugs as soon as possible and keep them moist until they start to grow into the other grass patch. You can buy plugs at a garden supply store or you can create your own plugs from a well-covered area of the yard. Just be sure to dig deep enough to get the root system of the plant, otherwise the grass will quickly die out. Depending on the spacing between the plugs, grass can take three months to a year to fill in.

Other Repair Tricks

An alternative to grass plugs or sod is sprigging. This is a collection of tiny grass sprigs that can be planted into the soil. The bottoms of the sprigs should be covered with soil, but the tips of the grass blades should be exposed. Care for grass sprigs is the same as for plugs. Weeds should be vigilantly removed to prevent them from taking over the space where the grass should be growing and from stealing the grass's nutrients. Grass sprigs take anywhere from one to two years to fully grow in.

St. Augustine grass is a common choice for lawns because of its low maintenance and quick growing cycle. It is also a hardy grass, which makes it ideal for hotter climates. Even the easiest of grasses, however, can become thin if not cared for properly.

Identifying the Problem

Check your yard to see if you can discover what caused the bare patch. Is the grass in a too shady area? Perhaps trees should be trimmed to allow more light to filter through. Over or under watering can also cause bare patches. Grass should be watered enough to completely soak the grass, but not enough to leave puddles of water for any length of time. Grass can also become choked by weeds or dead grass layers from winter or previous grass plantings. Treat the lawn with weed killer or other treatment to clear away competing plants. Fallen leaves can also cause grass to choke and die. Make sure to keep the lawn well raked and free of debris.

Grass Plugs

The best time to plant grass plugs or sprigs is during the spring when there is no danger of frost and the temperatures have not yet skyrocketed. The first part of repairing bare spots in any kind of grass is to eliminate all of the old, dead grass. A thatching rake can be used for this, and can be very effective at removing old and dead grasses. Make sure to pull up all of the old grass, including the roots. Dig holes for the plugs equaling about 6 inches square. Grass plugs are a lot like mini grass-sod squares and should be treated in a similar manner. Plant the plugs as soon as possible and keep them moist until they start to grow into the other grass patch. You can buy plugs at a garden supply store or you can create your own plugs from a well-covered area of the yard. Just be sure to dig deep enough to get the root system of the plant, otherwise the grass will quickly die out. Depending on the spacing between the plugs, grass can take three months to a year to fill in.

Other Repair Tricks

An alternative to grass plugs or sod is sprigging. This is a collection of tiny grass sprigs that can be planted into the soil. The bottoms of the sprigs should be covered with soil, but the tips of the grass blades should be exposed. Care for grass sprigs is the same as for plugs. Weeds should be vigilantly removed to prevent them from taking over the space where the grass should be growing and from

stealing the grass's nutrients. Grass sprigs take anywhere from one to two years to fully grow in.

What Lawn Mower Should I Use?

St. Augustine grass is a warm weather grass that gives a lawn a lush and green appearance. Although St. Augustine is a turf grass and hardy, it is not as difficult to cut as some other warm weather grasses. The choices for cutting St. Augustine grass are reel and power rotary mowers. A reel motor is pushed by hand and has a series of blades that rotate north and south. A rotary mower has one blade that spins horizontally. Both mowers will cut St. Augustine grass. Take into account several considerations when selecting the mower.

Consider how much time you want to spend mowing your lawn. Take into account the size of the lawn. Be aware it will take longer to mow a lawn with a reel mower than a rotary mower. A reel mower is better for smaller lawns. The peoplepoweredmachines.com website recommends reel mowers for lawns 10,000 square feet or less.

Decide how attractive you want your St. Augustine grass lawn to look. A reel mower cuts the blades cleanly like a pair of scissors. A rotary mower rips the grass and can damage it. A lawn cut with a reel mower is healthier. The lawn will also be more attractive if you cut it with a reel mower. Consider the contours of your lawn. Rotary mowers do not work as well as reel motors on lawns that are not flat. On the other hand, pushing a reel motor up a hill can tire you out. Take into account the cost factors. Manual reel mowers tend to be less expensive to purchase. They also require far less upkeep than rotary mowers. Reel mowers are environmentally friendly. Unlike power mowers, reel mowers don't require oil and gas. Reel mowers are also quieter.

Water Requirements for St. Augustine Grass  

Grass needs water, but how much?  The combined loss of water from plants and soil ("evapotranspiration") was measured in a classic turf study in south Texas (Table 1).
It should be easy to replace the total evapotranspiration loss of about 43 inches per year, because south Texas gets about 60 inches rainfall.   But typically, dry weather in April and May means that just about all the turf water must come from irrigation.  And in other months, such June through October, rainfall is plentiful, on average, but sporadic. The story is more complicated.  Soils with good water holding capacity, such as organic soils, provide more water reserve for the roots than sand soils.  Turf grown near heat sources, such as pavement, uses more water, while turf under trees uses less water. The process of water loss by plants is a simple physical process of heat exchange.  This is proven by the coolness of your bare skin when you walk out of the water, and the heat rising from the stove where you boil water.  Plants generally differ little in how much water they use.   Forests use a little more water than grasslands, hence forests generally occur in moist regions, and grasslands in arid regions.  Except for cacti and other succulents, most plants use about the same amount of water.  The main difference is that some plants need more irrigation, while other plants, woody plants especially, are better at tapping the underground reserves.  With its long roots, bahiagrass can generally be grown in level areas of south Texas with no irrigation.

Back to the St. Augustinegrass lawn.   Typically, in south Texas soils, St. Augustinegrass has about 3/4 inch total soil moisture reserve.  That's how much water it loses before it wilts.  The simplest way to know when the lawn has lost this much water lawn is . . . watch it wilt.  If you notice gray areas which "footprint," and individual leaf blades that are curled, it's time to irrigate.  The wilting is normally noticed in the late afternoon, and the turf should be watered the following morning, or certainly within a few days. How much to water?  About 3/4 of an inch.  Since irrigation systems are not perfectly tuned to provide 3/4 inch to every corner of the lawn, one would normally water more than this amount.  How much depends on how bad is the irrigation system.  The simplest way to find out is to place more-or-less straight-sided containers, such as coffee cans or frozen drink concentrate cans, etc., preferably 10 or 20 per lawn, and run the sprinklers for a timed test, say, one hour.  If the sprinklers put out 3 inches in one hour, then you can figure on watering for 15 minutes to provide the "average" turf needs, until the next time it wilts.

Uniformity is Goal #1 of a good irrigation system.  Bad irrigation  wastes water.  So how does one tune-up a bad irrigation system, or design a good system?  The biggest corrupter of irrigation systems is poor sprinkler placement.  Generally the sprinkler heads should be close enough so that the spray or stream from each head just barely touches the neighboring heads.  So if your sprinklers are place on a square grid, the arc from each head must touch four other heads.  Except, along the edges and corners of the landscape, half- and quarter- circle matched precipitation heads would be used so as not to put water on the street or building.  Accomplishing proper head placement, and uniform irrigation, will be the subject of another article.  But for now, make sure you have an adequate water source, that you don't have too many heads per zone, and that pressure, pipe size, and layout make sense.  Retail outlets that sell sprinkler parts normally have free pamphlets or inexpensive booklets that will tell you how.

One way is to shut off the irrigation.  It's often the dry season when we see how poorly our sprinklers have been working.
The photo shows a planned curtailment, to measure differences in drought survival among different St. Augustinegrasses.  Some of the grasses were totally killed and others survived.
In other studies, the killing injury (damage %, below) was closely associated with the number of days wilt.  While FX-10 and Floratam were slower to wilt than Bitterblue and Seville, once a grass had been wilting off-and-on for a week, it was on a death course.

After the first week or so, St. Augustinegrass plots suffered 15% loss of canopy per day.  Plots which underwent two weeks of wilt were completely killed.  Any subsequent recovery was from stolons growing in from the sides.
Actual results which you might experience in a lawn will vary according to microenvironment, e.g., the presence of trees, exposure to the wind, the quality of your soil, and the condition of the turf.  Other organisms, such as nematodes, can compromise the root system and make the grass less able to stand up to lack of water.  Grass which has been fertilized recently with highly soluble fertilizer often wilts quickly.  The Texas experiment was done in a microenvironment of sandy soil under full sun exposure.

 

St. Augustine Grass - High Quality - Schedule A Delivery

Origin and Distribution. St. Augustine grass is a widely used lawn grass along the Gulf Coast in the U.S., in Southern Mexico, throughout the Caribbean region, South America, South Africa, Western Africa, Australia and the South Pacific and Hawaiian Islands. The species is primarily of tropical origin and is native to sandy beach ridges, fringes of swamps and lagoons, salty and fresh water marshes and limestone shorelines. St. Augustine grass gradually moved inland to naturally open sites such as streambanks, lakeshores and other moist sites. It tolerates a wide range in soil types, but does not withstand waterlogged or droughty sites. Schedule Delivery

In the U.S., St. Augustine grass is found from the Carolinas to Florida and westward along the Gulf Coast to Texas and in Southern and Central California. Because of its lack of winter hardiness, St. Augustine grass is restricted to areas with mild winter temperatures. Like bermudagrass, St. Augustine thrives in high temperatures, but the growth of St. Augustine is better than that of bermudagrass in cool, coastal climates.

St. Augustine grass is native to the Gulf of Mexico region, the West Indies and Western Africa. For as long as there have been records, St. Augustine grass has been reported as a seashore pioneer along the Atlantic coasts of Africa and the Americas. Prior to 1800, the species was reported in Uruguay, Brazil, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the West Indies, Bermuda and South Carolina. In the Pacific, records are not nearly as old, but it was reported in Kauai prior to 1800. By 1840, St. Augustine grass had also been collected from Australia and New Zealand. Schedule Delivery

Several variants or strains of St. Augustine grass have been reported. The normal strain in early records has a white stigma color and was found to be a fertile diploid with 18 chromosomes. A sterile triploid variant with purple-colored stigmas was first collected around the Cape of Good Hope in 1791. By 1900 it was being used for lawns in Natal and has since been planted in Rhodesia, the Congo, Senegal, Australia and Southern California. In Florida it has been planted for lawns since the 1890's.

St. Augustine grass was moved inland from coastal regions by man for use in pastures and lawns. Its requirements, other than mild winter temperatures, include moist and somewhat fertile soils. St. Augustine grass will not survive in dry inland areas without supplemental irrigation. It is not as drought tolerant or cold tolerant as bermudagrass; consequently, its inland movement has been restricted to states and countries bordering coastal zones. Schedule Delivery

This species is called "St. Augustine grass" and sometimes "carpetgrass" in the Southeastern United States and in California, "crabgrass" in Bermuda and the West Indies, "gramillon" in Argentina, "wiregrass" in St. Helena and "buffalograss" in Australia and the South Pacific.

Description. St. Augustine grass, Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze, is a perennial robust grass widely used for pastures and lawns. In the warmer climates of the tropics and subtropics it rivals bermudagrass in importance.

St. Augustine grass is a coarse textured, stoloniferous species that roots at the nodes. Unlike bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass does not have rhizomes. Its stems (stolons) and overlapping leaf sheaths are generally compressed; leaf blades generally folded, abruptly contracted at the base, rounded at the tip, and smooth; ligule is reduced to a short fringe of hairs; collar is petioled and the sheath greatly compressed and ciliate along the margins. Inflorescences mostly terminal, some also axillary, spike like (corky) racemes and spikelets imbedded in main axis; each raceme bearing 1-3 spikelets; spikelets lanceolate or ovate, awnless and sessil; glumes membranous, the lower glume less than half as long as spikelet; lower floret staminate, upper floret complete and caryopsis ovate to oblong, 2.0-3.0 mm long, often failing to mature. Schedule Delivery

Adaptation and Use. St. Augustine grass is adapted to moist, coastal areas with mild winter temperatures. It is known to be tolerant of high summer temperatures, and St. Augustine grass retains its color at temperatures as much as 10° lower than those which discolor bermudagrass.

St. Augustine grass tolerates moderate shade, being as good or better than other warm season grasses for shaded sites. However, under densely shaded conditions, St. Augustine grass develops thin, spindly turf.

So long as fertility and drainage are adequate, St. Augustine grass tolerates a wide range of soil types. St. Augustine grass grows satisfactorily at a pH range from 5.0 to 8.5, but develops a chlorotic appearance in highly alkaline soils (above pH 7.5). It does not tolerate compacted or waterlogged soil conditions. St. Augustine grass is highly tolerant of soil salinity, producing satisfactory growth at salt levels as high as 16 mmhos. Bermudagrass will tolerate only slightly higher salt levels. Schedule Delivery

St. Augustine grass is used primarily for lawns as it does not tolerant traffic as well as some other warm season species. It produces satisfactory turf at moderate levels of maintenance, effectively competes with weeds and other grasses and has only a few serious pests.

In moist, warm climates St. Augustine grass maintains a satisfactory turf cover with only occasional mowing. In drier climates (below 30 inches annual rainfall) it survives with supplemental irrigation. At higher maintenance levels, St. Augustine grass produces a thick, lush, dark green turf that is highly preferred by homeowners. Schedule Delivery

Varieties. Since St. Augustine grass has been propagated vegetatively for 200 years, only a few strains or varieties have evolved and none have been developed through grass breeding programs. The common strain, a fertile diploid with a white stigma color, is native to the Gulf-Caribbean-W. African region. This species may have crossed with another species of Stenotaphrum to produce the sterile triploid strain originally reported in S. Africa. This strain, distinguished from the common strain by its purple stigma color, has been found in Australia, New Zealand and in the Pacific Islands. It has been planted in Florida since the 1890's and in California since 1920.

Several selections from Florida were made available prior to 1960. Floratine, a purple stigma type, was released by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station in 1959. Floratine was released for its somewhat finer texture and darker green color than the typical purple stigma type strain found in Florida prior to that time. It also retains its dark green color long into the fall and was reported to tolerate closer mowing than other St. Augustine grass selections.

Prior to Floratine, Bitter Blue was selected as an improvement over coarser textured types of St. Augustine grass used in Florida for lawns. Both of these selections, Floratine and Bitter Blue, are similar to the coarse textured triploid types reported in Florida prior to 1900. Schedule Delivery

Floratam St. Augustine grass was released by the Florida and Texas Agricultural Experiment Stations in 1972 as a SAD virus and chinch bug resistant selection. Like other Florida types, Floratam is a vigorous, coarse textured St. Augustine grass variety. Floratam has a purple stigma color and is sterile. Stolons of Floratam are large, purplish-red in color with internodes averaging 3 inches in length. Leaf blades are wider and longer than common St. Augustine grass. The morphological characteristics of Floratam are similar to those of Roselawn St. Augustine grass which is used as a pasture grass on muck soils in south Florida.

Floratam is not as cold tolerant as the common type found in Texas. Its use should be restricted to south Florida and the coastal zones of other southern states. Floratam also lacks the degree of shade tolerance that other St. Augustine grass varieties possess. Schedule Delivery

Seville St. Augustine grass was released by the O. M. Scott and Sons Company in 1980 as a SAD resistant and chinch bug tolerant variety. Seville is much finer textured than Floratam, but it too lacks the necessary cold tolerance to extend its area of adaptation beyond the southern boundaries of the Gulf Coast.

Raleigh St. Augustine grass was released by the North Carolina Experiment Station in 1980 as a cold tolerant, SAD resistant strain. Raleigh is finer textured than Floratam and develops a dense turf much like the Texas Common strain of St. Augustine grass. Raleigh is also more shade tolerant than Floratam. But, unlike Floratam, Raleigh is not resistant to lawn chinch bugs. Schedule Delivery

A strain of St. Augustine grass grown and produced commercially in Texas since 1920 is called Texas Common. Texas Common is typical of the white stigma type reported to be native to the Gulf-Caribbean-West African region. Texas Common was found to be a fertile diploid with 18 chromosomes. Seedling progeny from this white stigma type show wide variations in morphological characters. However, since the strain has been propagated vegetatively for over 100 years, only a few variations in the grass have been produced. Natural variants of the common strain are found throughout the state. It is assumed that these variants developed from seed produced by the common strains of St. Augustine grass.

Dwarf and variegated types of St. Augustine grass have also been selected from seed produced by Texas Common. However, these strains are more ornamental and novelty grasses than turfgrasses. One of the dwarf types (patented in the U.S. as Garretts 141) has been evaluated for its seed production potential. However, Garrets 141 and its progeny lacks the cold tolerance necessary to extend its area of adaptation beyond Southern Florida and South Texas in the United States. Schedule Delivery

Propagation. As long as St. Augustine grass has been cultivated, it has been propagated by vegetative means -- stolons, plugs or sod. Only recently has the seed production potential of St. Augustine grass been realized; but, as yet, significant use has not been made of that potential.

As reported by Long and Bashaw at Texas A&M in 1961 only a few strains of St. Augustine grass are fertile. The common strain of St. Augustine grass found in Texas is generally fertile; whereas, the strains used in Florida since before 1900 were found to be sterile. Schedule Delivery

St. Augustine grass is readily established from sod since the species is vigorous and spreads rapidly by creeping stolons. Sod plugs or stolons planted on 1 to 2 foot spacings can be expected to cover in one growing season. In commercial St. Augustine grass production 300 to 500 square yards (bushels) of sod are planted per acre. In small lawn plantings, 2 to 4 square inch sod plugs are planted on 1 to 2 foot spacings. St. Augustine grass can be successfully established from plugs anytime during the growing season if water is available.

Unlike bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass is not effectively propagated from stolons. St. Augustine grass stolons are much more prone to desiccation than bermudagrass. Also, bermudagrass roots much faster and has a faster growth rate than St. Augustine grass. As a result, St. Augustine grass is not successfully established by hydromulching or broadcasting stolons.

Some St. Augustine grass strains can be established from seed by planting at 1/3 to 1/2 pound of PLS per 1,000 square feet. The rate of establishment from seed planted at that rate would be about the same as for 2 inch sod plugs planted on 1 foot spacings. A seeded St. Augustine grass lawn should be kept moist for several weeks after planting to obtain a satisfactory stand of grass. Only after the seedlings have begun to spread can the grass tolerate dry conditions. St. Augustine grass should be seeded in late spring to early summer.

Fertilization during the establishment period (first three months after planting) is critical to developing a complete cover of St. Augustine grass. A starter fertilizer (one high in phosphorous) or a balanced, complete fertilizer should be applied at planting time. Subsequent applications of nitrogen at monthly intervals at a rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet will promote rapid spread of St. Augustine grass plugs. Weeds can be controlled preemerge with atrazine or post emerge with asulam (Asulox) and hormone-type herbicides (2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba).

Management. After establishment the success of St. Augustine grass as a lawn grass depends largely on management. Mowing, fertilization and supplemental watering are required to maintain a dense, green, weed-free turf of St. Augustine grass. In coastal areas where rainfall is adequate, St. Augustine grass will survive with little care. In inland areas, where rainfall is less dependable, close management of water is required to maintain a satisfactory lawn with St. Augustine grass. Schedule Delivery

The growth rate of St. Augustine grass is dependent on temperature, moisture availability and nutrient availability. Any one of these factors can limit the rate of growth of this species. In the spring with mild daytime temperatures and cool night temperatures, St. Augustine grass greens up, but makes little growth. As day and night temperatures increase during late spring and summer, the growth rate increases. Thus, an established turf of St. Augustine grass may require mowing every 2 weeks in early spring and as often as every five days by late spring if nitrogen fertilizer is applied.

During the fall, as temperatures cool, St. Augustine grass maintains its dark green color, but its growth rate declines sharply. Mowing frequency may be reduced to twice monthly during late fall and early winter.

Mowing heights may range from 1 to 3 inches depending on the frequency of mowing and the degree of shade present. At mowing heights below two inches, St. Augustine grass should be mowed every five days during late spring and summer. At a 2 1/2 inch mowing height, a 7-10 mowing schedule is adequate. Above 2 1/2 inches, St. Augustine grass should be mowed at 10 to 14 day intervals. In moderate to dense shade, St. Augustine grass should be mowed at about 3 inches at 10 day intervals. Schedule Delivery

During the fall, mowing height should be raised about ° inch to increase total leaf area of the turf. The increased leaf area will help the grass accumulate energy reserves to get through the winter. The greater leaf area will also help prevent weed invasion during the dormant season.

St. Augustine grass is responsive to nitrogen fertilizer in terms of color and growth rate. On sandy soils St. Augustine grass requires about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per month during the growing season to maintain satisfactory color and density. At rates above 1 pound per 1,000 square feet, St. Augustine grass produces lush growth that is highly susceptible to insects and diseases. On heavier textured soils ° pound of nitrogen every month is adequate to maintain good color and growth. Thatch accumulation is also a problem when nitrogen fertilization exceeds the required rate.

Late fall fertilization of St. Augustine grass helps maintain color and density of the lawn into the winter and promotes early recovery of the grass in the spring. Thus, to extend the length of time a St. Augustine lawn is attractive, the lawn should receive about 1 pound of nitrogen every 30 to 60 days from early spring through late fall.

St. Augustine grass is sensitive to iron deficiency and readily develops chlorotic symptoms in alkaline or iron deficient soils. This deficiency can be corrected with foliar applications or iron sulfate or iron chelate. Soil applications of iron sources are less effective than foliar application in alkaline soils.

Potassium requirements for St. Augustine grass are about the same as for other grasses. About half as much potassium as nitrogen is required to maintain growth. Potassium has been shown to increase root growth, cold tolerance and drought tolerance in St. Augustine grass. Schedule Delivery

Phosphorous requirements for established St. Augustine grass are very low and generally met from the soil. Occasional applications of a phosphorous fertilizer material may be required. Newly planted St. Augustine grass will respond to phosphorous fertilizers in terms of an increased rate of spread.

Insects. Several insect pests cause serious damage to St. Augustine grass lawns. The Southern lawn chinch bug is the most serious pest on St. Augustine grass in Florida where the insect if active most of the year. In other states it ranks among the most serious pests along with SAD, brownpatch and white grub. Schedule Delivery

The chinch bug damages St. Augustine grass by feeding on the stems at the base of the leaf sheath. Populations of chinch bugs may reach several hundred per square foot with damage usually apparent at 20 to 30 chinch bugs per square foot. Initial injury symptoms from chinch bugs resembles drought stress -- stunted, chlorotic spots in open (full sun) areas of the lawn. As feeding continues, irregular areas of dead grass develop in the lawn.

Timely applications of insecticides will control chinch bugs. Two or more treatments are required during the growing season in most areas, and as many as 5 or 6 may be required in some areas of Florida. Floratam St. Augustine grass is resistant to the Southern lawn chinch bug and is widely used in South Texas where the grass is adapted. In Florida severe damage to Floratam has been observed in lawns infested with chinch bugs.

White grub are also a serious pest on St. Augustine grass lawns. The grubs are the larvae of the May beetle or June bug that develop in the summer and fall just below the soil surface. The grubs feed on roots of St. Augustine grass and cause significant losses of turf during some years. Damage usually appears the following year as dead areas of grass that can be easily lifted from the lawn. Schedule Delivery

Grub control is difficult since the larvae are often quite large when detected and feed below the soil surface. Also, for them to be effective, insecticides must be drenched into the soil where the insects feed. Since some insecticides are tightly bound to the thatch layer of St. Augustine grass, drenching the material into the soil is difficult.

Timely and proper application of insecticides is the only method of controlling white grubs. Since they are only an occasional problem, inspection of the turf in midsummer is required for effective control. Biological control with milky spore disease has not been effective against this species of white grub.

Sod webworms, armyworms and cutworms can also feed on St. Augustine grass leaves and can cause damage when infestations are heavy. Evidence of heavy feeding by these insects includes a skeletonized appearance of leaf blade, silk-like webs visible in early morning (webs cover earthen tunnel in the thatch layer of turf) or defoliation of lawn in irregular patches. All of the leaf-feeding insects can be easily controlled by insecticides or biological worm control. (Bacillus sp.) Schedule Delivery

Ground pearls, subterranean scale insects that feed on roots of grasses, can also cause damage to St. Augustine grass lawns. The scale insects attach themselves to grass roots and secrete a waxlike shell around their bodies that resembles a pearl. At the immature scale inside the pearl grows larger, the pearl also increases in size. The pearl may reach 1/8 inch in diameter, and can be found attached to grass roots in the top several inches of soil.

Ground pearl damage becomes evident in spring and summer, particularly during dry periods, as small irregular areas of unthrifty or dead grass. Insecticide treatment should be made in May or early June when the insect is in the crawler stage. Consecutive treatments for 2 or more years may be required for effective control.

Diseases. St. Augustine grass is susceptible to a number of turfgrass diseases including brownpatch, SAD, gray leaf spot, Helminthosporium, Pythium, rust, downy mildew and others. All of these diseases, except SAD, are caused by fungi and can be controlled by good management and fungicides. SAD is a virus disease for which there is no chemical control. Only resistant varieties of St. Augustine grass are effective against this disease. Floratam, Seville, Raleigh and several experimental varieties have shown good resistance to the SAD virus.

Brownpatch and gray leaf spot are the most serious diseases caused by fungi attacking St. Augustine grass. Although these diseases rarely kill St. Augustine, they severely weaken and thin the grass to the degree that the lawn is unsightly. Preventive applications of fungicides are most effective against these diseases.

Weeds. A healthy St. Augustine grass lawn effectively crowds out most weeds. But St. Augustine grass that is not properly maintained or is weakened by insects or disease can be invaded by grassy and broadleaved weeds. Cool season weeds such as henbit, chickweed and clover are a serious problem in dormant St. Augustine grass. These weeds can be controlled by hormone-type herbicides in early spring.

Annual grassy weeds such as fescue, annual bluegrass and crabgrass are best controlled by timely applications of preemergence herbicides. Perennial grasses such as dallisgrass and bermudagrass are difficult to control in St. Augustine grass turf. Nonselective products can be applied as directed sprays to these weeds to obtain control.

The southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis, is one of the most important insect pests of St. Augustine-grass in Texas. Although most damaging in Gulf Coast regions and in the southern half of the state, chinch bugs can be a problem anywhere St. Augustinegrass is grown.

Although the southern chinch bug is a serious pest only on St. Augustinegrass lawns, it occasionally may feed on zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, bahiagrass, or bermudagrass. The common chinch bug, Blissus luecopterus, is a closely-related species that is a pest of grain crops in Texas and throughout the Midwest. This species also occasionally damages turfgrass and may be responsible for infrequent reports of chinch bugs in bermudagrass, fescue, and zoysiagrass lawns. Schedule Delivery

Identification

Expanding, irregular patches of dead or stunted grass surrounded by a halo of yellowing, dying grass often provide the first clue to the presence of chinch bugs. These islands of dying grass tend to increase in size and merge as insect numbers increase. Damage can develop rapidly, especially in sunny locations during hot, dry weather (Fig. 1).

Chinch bug damage can be confused with certain lawn diseases or other physiological disorders. Brown patch is a common disease affecting the leaf blades of St. Augustinegrass. Brown patch symptoms, however, usually occur in a circular or semi-circular pattern, as opposed to the irregular-shaped areas of dead and dying grass that result from chinch bug feeding. Chinch bug damage also can be difficult to distinguish from that caused by drought. Detection of significant numbers of the insects themselves is the best proof that chinch bugs are the cause of the damage.

Adult southern chinch bugs are small and slender, 1 /6 to 1 /5 of an inch long. They have black bodies with white wings. Each wing bears a distinctive, triangular black mark. Normally, some of the adults at any given site will have full-sized, functional wings, whereas other individuals will be short-winged and incapable of flight (see the Tips for Professionals section for distinguishing chinch bugs from the common beneficial insect, the big-eyed bug). Recently hatched nymphs (immatures) are wingless, yellow or pinkish-red, with a light-colored band across their backs (abdomen). After each molt the nymphs more closely resemble the adults. Before the last molt, nymphs are black or brownish-black, and have a white spot and two small wing pads on their backs. Chinch bugs are found most readily in the weakened, yellowing grass around a dead spot in the lawn. Schedule Delivery

Biology and habits

In Texas, adult chinch bugs are inactive during the winter. Reproduction begins after the appearance of warm weather in the spring. Under optimal conditions, each female can deposit up to 300 eggs, which hatch in about 2 weeks. The nymphal stage lasts about 30 days (less during hot weather), while the entire life cycle lasts 7 to 8 weeks. This speed of development allows time for three to five chinch bug generations each year. However, as the season progresses generations tend to overlap heavily, with the result that all stages normally are found together.

Mouthparts of the southern chinch bug consist of a long, slender beak, which is held close to the midline of the underside of the insect when not feeding. Chinch bug damage is due not just to the direct effects of feeding, but also to phytotoxic effects of the saliva. Schedule Delivery

Managing chinch bugs

Cultural controls
Control of chinch bugs starts with proper lawn care. Keeping thatch to a minimum, for example, reduces chinch bug numbers and makes other control methods more effective. Thatch is the layer of dead plant material found between the green tops of the grass plant and the soil below. Thatch provides a protective home for chinch bugs, and chemically binds with many insecticides, making such controls less effective.

Excessive thatch forms when soil microbes are unable to break down dead plant material as fast as it is added. Proper mowing practices can help reduce thatch build up. For optimum turfgrass health, no more than 35 to 40 percent of the leaf blade should be removed at a time when mowing. This means that lawns generally should be mowed no less often than once a week during the growing season. Mulching- or recycling-type mowers tear grass clippings into small pieces that are decomposed more easily by soil microbes. Research has shown that proper use of mulching mowers reduces the need for fertilizers and does not contribute to excessive thatch.

When thatch exceeds 1 inch in thickness, it may be necessary to have your lawn “vertically mowed.” Vertical mowing (a method of physically removing thatch) can be performed by a professional lawn maintenance company or by doing it yourself. Vertical mowing can temporarily harm your lawn’s appearance because it destroys the tightly woven stolon system of St. Augustinegrass. Vertical mowers can be obtained through many equipment rental stores.

Lawn aeration, in combination with top-dressing, also can help reduce thick layers of thatch. Aeration is performed by punching holes in the turf to increase air and water penetration. Lawn aeration machines can be obtained from many equipment rental stores, or aeration can be performed by a professional lawn care company. Aeration, in combination with top-dressing, helps correct moderate thatch problems by increasing soil-to-thatch contact, thus speeding up microbial decay. For more information about main-taining St. Augustinegrass lawns, see Texas Agricultural Extension Service publication B-5088, “Home Lawns.” Schedule Delivery

Over-application of fertilizer also contributes to thatch formation and makes lawns more attractive as a food source for chinch bugs. No more than 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen (N) per 1,000 square feet should be applied each year to St. Augustinegrass growing in sunny locations. Grass in shady sites needs no more than 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each year. Organic, or slow-release fertilizers, reduce the risk of over-fertilization because they release nitrogen more slowly. Local nursery professionals or your Extension Service office can provide more information on determining the proper amount of fertilizer to use in your lawn.

Too little or too much water also can cause chinch bug problems. Chinch bugs prefer hot, dry environments. Dry weather enhances survival of chinch bug nymphs and eggs by reducing the incidence of disease. Also, drought-stressed lawns are more susceptible to chinch bug injury. On the other hand, over-watering results in saturated, oxygen-deprived soils that cannot sustain the microbes needed to decompose thatch. Schedule Delivery

St. Augustinegrass lawns should be watched closely during the summer for signs of drought stress. The lawn should be watered immediately when edges of grass blades begin to curl, grass fails to spring back quickly when walked on, or the turf takes on a dull bluish-gray color. Due to the variety of soil types and depths in Texas, the amount of water needed will vary. Whenever possible, apply enough water to wet the soil profile to a depth of approximately 6 inches and let it dry out between irrigations. Frequent watering promotes shallow root systems in St. Augustine-grass, making it more susceptible to injury by chinch bugs.

Resistant varieties
The most commonly planted St. Augustine-grass varieties (including ‘Texas common’ and ‘Raleigh’) are highly susceptible to chinch bug attack; however, research has identified several resistant types. The varieties ‘Floratam’, ‘Floralawn’, and ‘Floratine’ show varying degrees of resistance to feeding by chinch bugs. ‘Floratam’, however, is the only variety that is commonly sold in Texas. ‘Floratam’ generally provides a high level of resistance to both chinch bugs and St. Augustine decline (SAD), a virus disease; however, it should be planted only in the southern half of the Texas because of its lack of cold-hardiness. Residents of counties north of Houston and San Antonio should check with their local county Extension office to determine whether ‘Floratam’ is appropriate for their area.

Biological control
Chinch bugs are attacked by many predatory insects, such as big-eyed bugs (Geocoris spp.), minute pirate bugs (Xylocoris spp.), and ants. Repeated insecticide applications can reduce populations of beneficial organisms and actually lead to increased chinch bug numbers. To preserve beneficial insects, apply insecticides only when necessary.

New varieties of insect-pathogenic fungi are currently being selected and tested for chinch bug control. Beauveria bassiana is one such fungus that has shown potential for control of many pests. Currently, however, there are no consistently effective fungal controls for chinch bug. Likewise, beneficial nematodes have provided inconsistent results when used against chinch bugs. For homeowners who want to avoid the use of any chemicals on their lawn, these products may provide some measure of control. Schedule Delivery

Chemical control
Good water and fertility management, thatch control, and use of resistant grass varieties dramatically reduce the need for insecticides to control chinch bugs. However, when dead and dying zones in turf-grass are accompanied by the presence of chinch bugs, some corrective action is needed. Chemical insecticides, when used according to label directions, can provide a rapid reduction in chinch bug numbers.

The first step when using pesticides for chinch bug control is to determine whether a problem truly exists. If your neighborhood is prone to chinch bug problems, inspect your lawn weekly during the spring, summer and fall months. Look for off-color areas, especially in direct sun, and along sidewalks and driveways. When chinch bugs are present in high enough numbers to cause grass to yellow, they can often be found by parting the grass at the edge of affected areas and examining the soil and base of the turf (see Tips for Professionals section). Several checks should be made in areas with suspected infestations. With heavy infestations, small numbers of chinch bugs may be seen walking on leaves or scurrying about on adjacent sidewalks on hot days. Schedule Delivery

When chinch bugs are abundant enough to cause visible damage, insecticide use can prevent further injury. A variety of liquid and granular insecticides is available to control chinch bugs. Granular insecticides can be applied with a standard fertilizer spreader and irrigated lightly ( 1 /8 to 1 /4 inch of water) to activate the insecticide. Drop-type spreaders are recommended to avoid scattering insecticide granules into gutters, sidewalks and driveways, where the granules can be washed into storm drains and streams. Any granules landing in such sites should be swept up and reapplied properly.

Liquid sprays are usually applied using a hose-end sprayer that can apply 15 to 20 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet. To ensure even coverage, spray back and forth across the same area. Irrigation is not recommended following application of liquid insecticides. Watering the lawn before application can help the pesticide penetrate into the turf.

In cases where chinch bugs are restricted to isolated areas of the lawn, use spot treatments. Treat the off-color turf and all surrounding infested areas. Inspect the site every 3 to 5 days for at least 2 weeks to determine if the infestation is under control. Spot treatments minimize the impact of pesticides on beneficials and help avoid environmental contamination. Schedule Delivery

Products containing diazinon, chlorpyrifos (Dursban®), or acephate (Orthene®) are suggested for homeowner applications. Chinch bugs have been reported with resistance to the above products in some areas of Florida; however, this has not been apparent in Texas. Where any of these products fail to provide control, apply a synthetic pyrethroid such as permethrin (e.g., Spectracide® Liquid Insecticide Spray).

Safety precautions
Always wear appropriate clothing when applying pesticides. Read the label to see what protective equipment should be worn. Minimal protective clothing includes long pants, shirt, shoes and socks. Unlined, chemical-resistant gloves are recommended whenever mixing liquid pesticides. Treated areas should be allowed to dry thoroughly before permitting people or pets to walk or play on the treated grass. Always check the label for information concerning safe re-entry times.

Some communities in Texas experience periodic sewage contamination due to improper pesticide use and disposal. Check label directions for special instructions on disposal of empty containers. Never dispose of unused pesticides down storm sewers, toilets, or sinks. This pollutes the environment and can result in costly cleanups for your community. Clean up pesticide spills immediately. Should any pesticide threaten to enter a storm drain, stream, or lake, call the Texas State Environmental Emergency Response Hotline at 1-800-832-8224.

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Insecticide label clearances are subject to change, and changes may have occurred since this publication was printed. The pesticide USER is always responsible for the effects of pesticides on his own plants or household goods as well as problems caused by drift from his property to other properties or plants. Always read and follow carefully the instructions on the container label.
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Tips for Professionals

An approximate action threshold (level at which damage begins to appear) for chinch bugs on susceptible St. Augustinegrass varieties, (e.g., ‘common’ and ‘Raleigh’) is 20 to 25 chinch bugs per square foot.

An alternative sampling method to simply parting the grass and looking for the insects is the flotation method. A coffee can (with the top and bottom lids removed) should be pushed into the ground with a twisting motion. Use a knife, if necessary, to cut the grass around the rim. Fill the can with water for about 10 minutes and check for chinch bugs as they float to the surface. Action thresholds for samples taken with 4-inch and 6-inch diameter coffee cans are an average of two, and four to five chinch bugs per sample, respectively. Several samples should be taken from different locations in the damaged (not dead) grass. Schedule Delivery

Big-eyed bugs closely resemble, and often are mistaken for, chinch bugs. Big-eyed bugs are beneficial predators that kill chinch bugs and many other pests. Although similar in size to chinch bugs, big-eyed bugs have large, protruding eyes and a head at least as wide as the thorax (the leg-bearing part of the body). Chinch bugs have small heads (narrower than the thorax); eyes are small in proportion to the head; and their bodies are more slender. Big-eyed bugs do not have the distinctive white wings with black triangular marks that chinch bugs have.

Additional labeled pesticides for professionals include bendiocarb (Ficam®, Turcam®), bifenthrin (Talstar®), ethoprop (Mocap®, golf courses only), fonofos (Crusade®, Mainstay®), imidacloprid (Merit®), isofenphos (Oftanol®), lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar®*, Battle®*), and permethrin (Astro™). Resistance of chinch bugs to organo-phosphate insecticides has been reported in other states. In case of suspected resistance, rotate to another class of insecticide. Note that diazinon may not be applied to golf courses or sod farms. Schedule Delivery

Use of surfactants in spray solutions may enhance control, especially in turf with heavy thatch.

Regular, light top-dressing of turfgrass with compost, or soil similar to the existing soil, can help lessen thatch problems.

In turfgrass that is regularly infested with chinch bugs, use organic, or slow-release, nitrogen sources and try lowering the rate of applied nitrogen. Lower rates of nitrogen (e.g., 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year) have been shown to make grass less attractive to chinch bugs and can reduce the need for sprays.

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The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Cooperative Extension Service is implied. Schedule Delivery

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