St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas
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Author:  doorhinge [ Tue May 19, 2009 4:27 am ]
Post subject:  St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

I have St Augustine grass in coastal Alabama. Have been on a synthetic program for many years. Would like to start organic. My lawn has irregular growth patterns. Thick and lush in some areas, but shorter height and thinning in others. I put out cottonseed mean three weeks ago at 10 pounds per 1000 sq ft. Only water once a week deeply, and mow it at four inches. Have considered my problem is it needs aerating to help the shorter growing areas develop deeper roots, so it can grow taller and thicker. Soil test showed pH of 6.1 What product if any should I put out after aerating? What kind of annual organic program can I get on? Any thoughts would be deeply appreciated.

Author:  user_48634 [ Thu May 21, 2009 9:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

Hi Doorhinge,
If you can swing it in this economy, I would suggest going a little heavy on the cottonseed meal this first year. (By the way, before I go on, cottonseed sometimes acidifies the soil, so you might consider using alfalfa pellets, corn meal, soy bean meal, used coffee grounds, or commercially bagged organic fertilizer. You also might consider compost at 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet.) But to continue, apply the fertilizer monthly at 10 pounds per 1,000 like you already did. Also I would suggest at least once spraying with molasses diluted at 3 ounces per gallon of water. In order to rule out fungal disease causing the thinning, you might apply ordinary corn meal one time (sooner than later) at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Is it possible you have leaf litter in your turf? I have an area like you described. It seems to come and go and I have not determined the cause of it. This year I did something different. I raked out the live oak leaf litter. I was surprised to collect about 1 cubic yard of undecomposed leaves from my lawn. After removing all the leaves I was left with bare spots.

Author:  doorhinge [ Mon May 25, 2009 5:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

No, leaf litter is not a problem. I am planning on aerating this weekend. Also plan on applying cottonseed meal after aeration. How much would you apply? How many other applications would you apply this year since I am just getting started on an organic program. Didn't want to overdo things. After this year, what would you do in the years ahead as an annual organic lawn program?

Thanks for your help!

Author:  user_48634 [ Fri May 29, 2009 10:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

The application rate was in my first reply. How often? I apply fertilizer on the federal holidays. I start on Washington's Birthday and repeat on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. If you want to go a little heavier to get started, you can use it at that same rate every month.

You cannot overdo it. One of my co-moderators on another forum just realized he had been making a mistake in his calculation for square footage. He was using the square footage of his entire property without subtracting off the house, driveway, patio, and flower garden. After refiguring it, he decided he had been applying soy bean meal at a rate of 100 pounds per 1,000 square feet, three times per year. I can't imagine making a mistake that big...and the smell !!! But his lawn is very impressive by any measure or standard you can come up with. In the pictures people accuse him of Photoshopping the colors.

If the grass does not seem to respond in a month, it might be time for a soil test from The Texas Plant and Soil Lab. Tell them you are starting on an organic program and they will give you lots of ideas how to proceed. Follow their advice above all others (including, if not especially, mine). They perform miracles.

Author:  doorhinge [ Sat May 30, 2009 5:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

I plan on aerating today, applying cottonseed meal, and liming. Will see how things go. The lawn perked up with just the first application of cottonseed meal four weeks ago. Hoping the aerating will speed the process by delivering the cottonseed meal to the good guys deep in the soil. Will apply again as you recommended. Interesting thing, I haven't seen any grey leaf spot this year. We have it really bad here on the coast in Alabama in May and June. By not using synthetic fertilizer, I think it hasn't had a chance to take hold. Thanks for your advice.

Author:  doorhinge [ Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

It has been three weeks since I aerated, applied both cottonseed meal and lime. Lawn looks very healthy and thick. No rainfall in three weeks has been tough here in southwest Alabama on the Gulf Coast. Having to water at least once a week. Having to cut every five days, but it sure looks nice. I have thought of applying fertilizer only once more in late August. What about using Milorganite instead of cottonseed meal like I have been applying? Any other tips to help the areas that are still thin to thicken up and rejuvenate?

Author:  user_48634 [ Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

You're pretty much doing what needs to be done. Go heavier with the fertilizer and water longer in the weak places.

Milorganite is fine but I avoid it. It has measurable amounts of heavy metals in it while the animal feed materials are usually pretty free of all that. Anything you can get cheap at a farm and ranch store is good. It must be ground or pelletized though. You should be able to get free coffee grounds from a coffee house. Starbucks prepackages it for you.

Author:  doorhinge [ Sat Jul 04, 2009 2:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: St Augustine too low and thinning in some areas

I have noticed heavy out break of grey leaf spot on the turf. We went four weeks with no rain here in coastal Alabama. The first week and a half I didn't irrigate at all. Had to start watering deeply due to lack of rain. I ran each zone about an hour each. Noticed the grass responded nicely to this. But, after only three days the lawn looked terrible in areas of full sun. Leaf blades were closed up, and lawn looked blueish grey. I realized the sun, high temps in the upper nineties and lack of rain were hurting the lawn. I started to water about every fourth day, because of no rainfall. I knew going in that this could cause grey leaf spot, but I didn't know what else to do. The areas that looked bad in the hot Alabama sun have returned to normal, but now are exhibiting the most grey leaf spot. Are these areas showing more of the disease, because they were under more stress than the rest of the lawn? I notice that several leaf blades in these areas are dying, and showing signs of thinning out. We have received two good rainfalls in the past week. I haven't ran the irrigation since the normal rainfall resumed. What should I do? Will it recover on it's own? You mentioned to keep fertilizing, but I am afraid to add any more nitrogen to the lawn while it has this grey leaf spot.

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