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How to Care for St Augustine Grass in Florida

Lawn image by Yuriy Rozanov from <a href=''></a>

St. Augustine grass thrives in the hot climate of Florida. With regular irrigation and fertilizer, it is a thick dark-green grass that grows slowly, needing less mowing than other grasses. It grows well in the slightly acidic soils found in most areas of Florida, as well as the alkaline soils in areas with heavy limestone content. The main issue in growing St. Augustine grass in Florida is balancing the needs of the lawn with local watering restrictions. Water St. Augustine grass deeply to encourage deep roots and allow longer periods between watering.

Check with your local water district about watering restrictions in your area. Water St. Augustine grass immediately after planting. Water daily for the first two weeks, then increase the time between watering gradually. Water established St. Augustine lawns once a week, providing 3/4 to 1 inch of water each time. Water in the morning or evening, not during the hottest part of the day.

Fertilize St. Augustine grass with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 during the growing season. Broadcast fertilizer onto dry grass at a rate of 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet monthly. Water after fertilizing. Withhold fertilizer during long, dry periods.

Apply an iron supplement in areas with alkaline soil. Soil pH greater than 7.0 prevents the uptake of iron.

Mow grass two to four times a month with a mulching mower during the growing season.

Check the lawn in the fall for excess thatch buildup. Dethatch the lawn when the thatch layer is greater than 1/2 inch.

Watch for small brown patches caused by fungus diseases during warm, wet weather in Florida. Avoid overfertilizing and treat with a fungicide.

Check for cinch bugs by inserting a ring or can with the ends removed into the soil. Fill the can with water and watch for cinch bugs to float to the surface. Control cinch bugs with an application of diazinon.

Control sodworms, the larvae of pale moths that can be seen at dusk, with an application of insecticide.

Control weeds with a pre-emergent herbicide specially formulated for St. Augustine grass. The thick growth of St. Augustine effectively crowds out most weeds and other grasses.

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