Healthy St. Augustine lawns
Nothing adds to the beauty and value of your home like a healthy, green lawn. A report in CNN MONEY says it can increase your home’s value by up to 11 percent. When it comes to lawn grass species, St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular choices in Texas thanks to its love of warm weather and its preference for full sun. St Augustine grass makes a beautiful light green to dark green turf. It grows well in most soils throughout the south. Another reason for it’s popularity is St Augustine also has good shade tolerance. It is water efficient, has few pests and grows quickly in the summer.
The best way to make sure your St. Augustine grass looks as good as it should, is with proper lawn maintenance.
The easiest way to water your lawn is to water whenever the grass needs it. That may sound strange, but grass will tell you when it is time to water. When the grass begins to turn a bluish green color or you see rolled or folded leaves, it is time to give it a good deep drink. Another way to tell is by walking across the lawn and then checking to see if your footprints are not immediately going away. If the grass does not spring back up, then it is time to water. When you water, water deeply to wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches. This promotes deeper root growth and helps the grass survive longer without water during periods of drought. The best time to water your grass is in the morning so the soil surface has time to dry out. If you water at night, the overly moist grass and soil is more prone to fungus growth.
Begin a routine mowing program as soon as the grass starts to turn green in the spring. Cut no more than one-third of the leaf area with any one mowing. Set the mowing height at 2 ½ to 3 inches. At this height, your lawn can better resist weeds and pests and it also encourages deeper roots. Frequent mowing at a lower height produces higher quality turf grass. If you cut at this height, you can leave the grass clippings on the surface of your lawn. Grass clippings decompose quickly, giving significant amounts of nutrients to the soil which helps keep your grass green.
Begin fertilizing your St. Augustine grass three weeks after the grass turns green and when there’s little chance of a late frost. The Texas Agriculture Extension Service recommends applying one pound of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn every 8 weeks. You can test your soil to see what other nutrients your lawn may need or use a complete fertilizer with a 3-2-1 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium . Fertilizing your St. Augustine grass will make it greener, promote greater turf density and reduce its susceptibility to pests and disease.
Controlling weeds and pests:
The best way to control weeds is to have a healthy, dense lawn. If needed apply an herbicide that’s specifically labeled for use on St. Augustine grass. Apply pre-emergent herbicide in the spring. Use post-emergent herbicides if weeds have already sprouted. But be careful and read the labels closely because St. Augustine grass is very sensitive to some herbicides and you don’t want to damage your turf.
Grubs and chinch bugs are some of the most commonly encountered pests in St. Augustine lawns. Fight them with a broad-spectrum lawn insecticide.