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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 4:52 pm 
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I need help!!
Details: Dallas/Fort Worth area. St Augustine, established yard/neighborhood. Mostly sunny. PH 7.0 Testing N-P-K tonight
My husband has been fired from lawn duty. He is now only allowed to mow (to 3")

Long story short... 4 years ago our lawn got the nasty TAKE ALL and killed about 50% of our lawn. We treated and treated with sphagnum moss and chemicals. Our entire street got hit with the fungus. We hit it hard and then resodded before it got hot. The yard did okay, we continued to use fertilizer, fungicide and sphagnum moss for the past 3 years. This spring, only 20% of it came back. We were worried this past fall/winter and did treat with chemicals but lost most of the yard anyways.

My husband has thrown his hands up and quits so I told him I would try my way. His way is chemical, I prefer organic. We will not resod this year, don't have the heart to waste money on more grass right now. Any suggestions?? What can we use to clear the soil of TAKE ALL?? Any strong homemade fertilizer mixes recommended to get the grass spreading again?

I have read so much on Take All, I am on overload and just need someone to tell me what to do... I read corn meal is good to use? I plan to lower the PH slightly with either iron sulfate or aluminum sulfate, but have no plan beyond that...

Thank you in advance for any suggestions or recommendations!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:45 am 
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If you are planning to go organic and not use chemicals, then why would you plan to use chemicals to adjust the pH?

Do not worry one more second about your pH. My pH, and most of Texas, is 8.0. We're on limestone deposits hundreds (and hundreds) of feet thick. You can't hope to adjust the pH of all of it. St Aug is extremely forgiving when it comes to pH.

Corn meal is going to be the solution eventually. First you have to recover your soil from the abuse of years and years of fungicides. The only way you can do that is with compost. I am not someone who suggests compost very often, but you are definitely a candidate. In fact y'all are the poster child for ruining your soil. I hate being this harsh but on this forum we never see anyone doing this to their lawn. Anyway, compost has the microbes you need to restore the lawn. The application rate is 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet of grass. DO NOT OVER APPLY. Use less but do not use more. St Augustine is easily smothered by too much compost. I see it in my neighborhood every year. When you apply it, drag something over the compost to bring all the grass blades up through it. A leaf rake is a start. You could try a pushbroom, or even a hose. Every blade of grass that comes up through the compost will live. Every blade left under the compost will die and leave a bare spot for a year. For some reason St Aug cannot recover from being smothered.

When you water, water only once a week this time of year. If you have daily temps in the 100s, then water once every 5 days. When you water, water a full inch as measured by tuna or cat food cans placed around the yard. Time how long it takes to fill the cans so you can water that same amount every week.

After at least a month with the compost, then you should be able to apply the corn meal. Note that you cannot simply apply corn meal to a lawn which has had repeated apps of fungicide. The corn meal approach relies on beneficial fungi to kill the disease fungi. Since you have killed off all the beneficial fungi, you have to wait until the compost restores the beneficial fungi before this approach will work. Apply corn meal at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Reapply a month later. Actually you should reapply corn meal every 30 days for the rest of the season. This will clear up the disease and allow new grass to return permanently.

You can also permanently dispense with using peat moss. Corn meal is not the best organic fertilizer in the world but peat moss is the worst. If you want to supplement the corn meal as a fertilizer, use alfalfa pellets or meal if you can find it. The application rate for that is also 20 pounds per 1,000. You can apply both corn and alfalfa the same day if you like. You will need the corn every month to ensure you get rid of every bit of disease. You can supplement the corn with alfalfa on the major holidays (4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving).

If 3 inches is the highest setting on your mower, then stick with that. Otherwise go ahead and raise it all the way. There is never any reason to lower the mower for St Augustine. And I take that a step further and only mow every other week. Tall St Aug seems to be much healthier than short St Aug.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:33 pm 
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I sorry for bumping an old post, but I just joined the forum a couple of days ago and this thread caught my interest. I have take-all in my side yard which is bermuda.

I have had success getting some improvement by aeration and use of compost and compost tea among other things to fight the fungus. All of the reading that I have done on take-all includes aeration as part of comprehensive program to fight take-all to give soil microbes enough oxygen to work with.

I "brew" compost tea and apply it both to the surface and inject a few inches under the surface with a home-made soil injector probe similar to this http://www.rittenhouse.ca/asp/Product.asp?PG=753.
It's easy to make a nice injector for about 1/4 the retail price with the tube from a Ross root feeder and some plumbing parts from the HW store. Injecting the tea helps with aeration as well -- each injection point leaves a nice hole and the pressurized tea pumped into the soil breaks up the compacted soil structure. I have been spacing the injection points about every 6 inches. Yes it's time consuming.

Good luck. Hope you beat it.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:30 am 
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brownthumb, at the risk of being discouraging, 99.99999% of all lawn owners are not doing what you're doing and they are successful. Take all is easily beaten with one app of corn meal.

Compaction is not a thing in a normal lawn. It is only a thing for livestock producers, golf courses, and football fields. Even baseball fields don't have the problem, because they don't play in the rain. Compaction is caused by mechanical compression of soggy soil. That drives the air out and leaves no way for air to get back in. Adobe bricks are made by mechanical compression. Hard soil, on the other hand, is often found in a normal lawn. That is caused by reduced beneficial fungal populations and soil particle deflocculation. You can fix both issues in the soil by spraying it with shampoo (3 ounces per 1,000 square feet) and deep watering once per week.

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