It just occurred to me that I started this post almost 2 months ago, but never finished, and now with fall here the grass is beginning to show some signs of dormancy as the rains have subsided and it get’s ready for winter.
But enough about the future. Let’s talk about the past. Face it, if you spend a lot of time working on your lawn, you expect it to look good, and if you’re like me and do it yourself, there is no one else to blame when something goes wrong. You can search google until your fingers are sore and find tons of info and threads with “armchair” landscapers who will tell you what to do, but the bottom line is there are really only a few things that can go wrong with a lawn and with a good lawn care regimen, even those can be avoided.
My problem turned out to be fungus, and embarrassingly enough it was self inflicted. I had cut the lawn when it was very wet and put the mower up with clumps of wet grass in the deck. Wet grass equals a perfect breeding ground for fungus. The following week when I cut the lawn again, I spread the fungus all over the yard. Brown patches started popping up everywhere, growth was stunted, and it looked like it was dying in places.
Keep in mind, up until a few weeks ago, my lawn was lush and green. Then this…
There is a difference between bug/insect damage and fungus. Insect damage usually starts with yellowing, sometimes you can also see physical signs of activity on the blades of grass and even the insects themselves if you check down in the turf. With fungus, you can pull the grass up from the roots and more than likely they’ll be black. You’ll also notice a rotting smell. Fortunately, I was able to get the lawn back in order with consecutive applications of fungicide. First I used Bayer systemic fungicide granules, followed by F-stop granules two weeks later. In between I made an application of green edge slow release organic fertilizer (you can buy it at Ace or most garden centers). The fertilizer actually helps to choke the fungus out.
So, a couple of tips:
- Don’t over water, but when you do water make sure your sprinkler heads are properly adjusted
- Turn off your irrigation system if there is a lot of rain. We have a rain sensor/gauge, and I still turn ours off manually
- Avoid cutting lawn when it’s wet and clean your mower if it gets clumped with wet grass
- Take no more than a 1/3 of the grass at a time and make sure the mower blade is sharp
- Apply fertilizers and pesticides at the correct time, for more info see my lawn care schedule for St. Augustine grass
After the treatment, the lawn went back to looking like this in about 3 weeks, but you have to be patient it won’t happen over night..