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 Post subject: white spots
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:37 pm 
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There are white spots on my St. Augustine grass! I read it is a fungus, but I'm not sure how to get rid of it. Help please! Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:57 pm 
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Please post photos, of the spots close up and of the lawn in general. That would be a huge help. Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:40 pm 
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here is the grass and the lawn... it is all brown with a few spots of green grass. we had some watering restrictions and then lots of too cold weather recently.


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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:00 pm 
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The white isn't on St. Augustine. St. Augustine is still dormant, that is the majority brown in your yard - the grass that is green now is a native winter grass. From the closer photo it looks like some kind of white aphid on the weed grass.

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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:41 pm 
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ok, so let me get this straight... the St Augustine grass is dormant, the lawn isn't dead?? When does it "wake up"? And all of the green patches are a weed grass?? I know you said "native winter grass" but what is it called? Do I need to kill it?? pull it out?? will the white aphid-looking things get onto the St Augustine when it wakes up? I went out into the yard today and noticed the white spots on the green patches that are closer to the house. They weren't there yesterday... How do I kill it without killing the grass? What if it isn't aphids but a fungus? Sorry for all the questions. I have a hard time keeping plants alive and don't want to kill my lawn and have to reseed the whole thing...


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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:17 am 
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You can just pull that winter grass by hand. I wish I could tell you what it is, the only thing I know
for sure is that my dogs love to munch the stuff. They seek it out in the yard when the turf is dormant.
I like the look of it and there is enough in my yard that it acts like a layer of rye in the winter: the yard is
mostly green, but it seems to blend in or die off in the summer months. I haven't let it grow tall so I can't
identify it by the seed heads, but If I had to make a guess I'd say it is a perennial ryegrass.

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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:13 am 
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I wish more people could photograph their grass like that. That close-up is EXCELLENT!

With the word fungus in the mix and looking at the picture my first thought was powdery mildew, but I believe northwesterner is right. That looks more like an insect. Just because the insect is one one variety of grass, I would not assume it will jump to the St Augustine.

The St Augustine will come out of dormancy by late March or early April unless you live in South Texas or Florida. In those places it is already coming out of dormancy. Just be patient.

When you see it first starting to green up, if you have not had any rain in the previous few weeks, then you could water it a full inch. You'll have to measure an inch of water using cat food or tuna cans placed around your yard. My watering system is extremely slow and takes 8 hours to deliver an inch, so you'll have to check yours for yourself. Don't get excited about watering again for about 3 weeks after that first watering. If you get an inch of rain before then, then set your watering calendar for 3 weeks after the rain stops.

It sounds like you might be doing several things wrong in your lawn. Here is the 1-2-3 of basic lawn care.

  1. Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds and prevent new (weed) seeds from germinating.
  2. Mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. Bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses are the most dense when mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. Dense grass shades out weeds and uses less water when tall. Dense grass feeds the deep roots you're developing in 1 above.
  3. Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 4 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above.

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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:21 am 
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I asked on the program this morning - that patchy grass is probably rescue grass. Howard says you can kill it now with vinegar if you want.

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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:57 pm 
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Thank you!! I guess I could just let the grass stay instead of killing it. Makes the yard look less "dead" lol. We have an irrigation system, put in by the previous owners. It does 15 minutes here, 25 minutes there, and 40 minutes for a bigger part of the yard. I don't know how to program the timer (or even if I can) but I will try to figure that out to water an inch. By the "highest setting" do you mean the 3" setting? Cutting it as low to the ground as possible?


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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:37 pm 
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No, the opposite, leave it as tall as you can.

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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:31 pm 
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Went outside to look at the grass today... found this. It's turning yellow... and I accidentally brushed the grass blades and got the white stuff on my thumb... almost like flour/powdered sugar/cornstarch-looking... what do y'all think? Oh, and what kind of weed is the other pic?


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 Post subject: Re: white spots
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:56 pm 
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Looks like a thistle. Wear heavy gloves if you're going to pull it out - they're sharp, and it takes a special kind of pull and twist to get the whole root. Those sharp weed-popper things work well with this, or you could dislodge it from the side with a spade fork and pull it out easily, leaving the turf intact. Best to get them when they're small and tender, they're much easier to pull. When they get big they are sharper, it's a lot more work, and they can leave behind a big hole.

In your earlier photos I saw some henbit (with little purple flowers - very easy to pull out).

If those are aphids on the rescue grass then they have targeted it because it is in stress. Even weeds get pests, and quite often the pests are interested only in a specific species of plant. You could spray with vinegar, pull out, or do nothing, but it will spread and there will be a lot more in the turf next winter if you don't get it out now.

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