Palmetto grass, a cultivar of St. Augustine turf, is prized for its ability to grow in partially shady areas of the lawn. Unfortunately, Palmetto grass experiences problems when subjected to high foot traffic. In addition, chinch bugs, gray leafspot and brown patch may thwart your attempts to maintain a thick Palmetto lawn.
Palmetto is a fine-textured grass, which means it's easily damaged from foot traffic. Foot traffic causes damage to the grass shoot tissues of Palmetto grass. Grass blades suffer from tearing and abrasion, inhibiting their ability to photosynthesize or produce their own nutrients. Furthermore, soil becomes compacted during heavy foot traffic, preventing proper air flow and water drainage. Prevent foot traffic injury to your Palmetto turf by installing pathways through lawns. Keep pets in one area of the lawn or in a dog run.
Chinch bugs are the number one pest of St. Augustine turf, according to Alabama Cooperative Extension. These pests suck out the nutrients from Palmetto grass blades and inject a toxin that clogs up the turf's vascular system. Gardeners with chinch bug infestations notice their Palmetto lawns experience discoloration, grass blade yellowing and irregular patches of dead grass. To control chinch bugs, use an insecticide that has an active ingredient such as cyfluthrin, deltamethrin or carbaryl.
Gray Leaf Spot
Gray leaf spot, a disease caused by the Pyricularia grisea fungus, quickly spreads during warm, rainy weather. Upon close examination, you may see small gray spots with dark borders appear on your Palmetto grass blades. Grass eventually turns yellow and dies out in patches. Control gray leaf spot by watering in the morning, so that moisture is evaporated during the day. Treat gray leaf spot with a fungicide. Palmetto lawns with a history of gray leaf spot must be treated with a preventative fungicide each year.
Brown patch is a fungal disease that causes circular dead patches of Palmetto grass. Also, gray cottony fungal growth may be seen growing on grass blades. Typically, brown patch is more prevalent in the late fall to early spring when temperatures are between 75 to 85 degrees F. To control brown patch, water your Palmetto lawn in the morning and treat it with a fungicide that contains active ingredients such as triadimefon, 3-thioallphanate or thiophanate-methyl.
- University of Florida Extension; Minimizing Traffic Damage to Your Florida Lawns; L.E. Trenholm
- Alabama Cooperative Extension; St. Augustinegrass Lawnseffery M. Higgins; December 1998
- University of Florida Extension; Gray Leaf Spot of St. Augustinegrass: Cultural and Chemical Management Options; P. Harmon, L. Datnoff, R. Nagata, M. Brecht, and C. Stiles
- The City of Austin and the Texas AgriLife Extension: Earth-Wide Guide to Lawn Problems