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Dallas Morning News - August 28, 2018

Bad Looking Lawns

Brown patch - one of the common fungal diseases

Lots of bad looking turf right now, especially St Augustine. Could be several things but the problems are at least partly due to the erratic weather - extremely hot periods with good rain events mixed in. Homeowners will sometimes get a little lazy when we have some nice rain and not be as careful as they should be about irrigation schedules and amounts.

I have some bad looking spots in my St. Augustinegrass because the sprinkler system has a really goofy feature that mysteriously kicked on. The controller can change the run times of sections on its on. My system changed itself from settings of 25 minutes to 5 and I didn’t notice it until the damage was done. This feature is supposed to cut the times down automatically in the winter when the temperatures drop. Dumb idea. Who knows why mine kicked in just as the blazing temperatures hit town. Somebody probably accidently hit the wrong button - maybe me! If you have an automatic system, check to make sure this feature is turned off and leave the clock set on manual so it only runs when you push the button. Then pay attention to how long the sections are running - something I didn’t do.

Grubs, chinch bugs or irrigation problems?

Another issue that could be causing turf problems now is chinch bugs. Get on your knees and check the bad spots to see if there are any very small bugs running around. If there are, spray with one of the essential oil products such as Puregro Insect Control, EcoSafe or EcoSMART. Natural diatomaceous earth dusted on dry sometimes works as well. Stressed turf is the cause of these little bugs showing up so adjusting the water may again be needed. If you find grubworms in a shovelful of soil, apply beneficial nematodes.

Fading green or yellowing may be precursors of Take All Patch. Circles and halos indicate Brown Patch that is not just a fall turf disease. Both of these fungal diseases should be treated with whole ground cornmeal at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. If the corn is applied after hydrogen peroxide (3% from the drug store) has been applied in a

50/50 mix with water, it works even better. See for mixing and application rate details. Don’t like home brew? Try the commercial hydrogen peroxide product BioSafe.

And for much more information on gardening, landscaping and human health, there’s an event coming up that I recommend. I’ll be giving my Natural Organic Pest Control talk and Fantastic Trees slide show - also will be many other exhibits, health screening, presentations and displays. It is the Health, Home and Garden EXPO at the Plano Center, September 15th.

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