St. Augustine is a tropical plant and our summer highs of over 100 degrees and occasional single digit winters makes it far more stressed than its more natural home of Houston or Orlando. That stress makes it a prime candidate for two issues we’re seeing quite a bit of this fall…
Chinch Bugs – The first, and most destructive, is Chinch bug damage. These insects have been very active in the north Dallas area the past two years. This is actually a summer problem but, because the damage looks like a sprinkler problem, you may just now be realizing that “dry” area isn’t recovering – even after all the rains we’ve had.
What should you do if you have chinch bug damage? Our cooler weather may have already killed them but you might want to treat the areas with a Bifenthrin product, just to be sure. If you have dead areas and they are in a sunny area, if you’re patient the areas will fill back in on their own next year. If you’re in a hurry, you can fill in the areas with a few yards of St. Augustine sod. Next summer if your St. Augustine starts turning yellow, especially near concrete such as your driveway or sidewalks, you might want to check for chinch bugs while your checking your sprinkler heads.
Brown Patch – Over the past three or four weeks you may have notice some light brown rings cropping up in your St. Augustine. More than likely this is brown patch, a fungus that attacks St. Augustine in fall and spring. When our evenings become cool while our days are relatively warm the grass never quite dries out making perfect conditions for fungus to develop. Left untreated the areas will spread until the frosts stop it. Most of the time it is just unsightly for a while but if we have a cold enough winter, these weakened areas might suffer freeze damage.
What to do to avoid or treat brown patch? First, water in the morning so the lawn has a chance to dry quickly. Cut back on watering shady areas as much as possible, instead of 30 minutes per week, try 10 or 15 minutes in those areas. Second, brown patch feeds on nitrogen so avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers in St. Augustine during early spring and fall – we use a 5-10-31 ratio. Last, if you see signs of brown patch treat the areas with Propiconazole. This won’t make the brown patches go away but it will stop it from continuing to spread.
We offer preventative programs for both of these problems so if you haven’t already signed up for our Surface Insect Program and our Brown Patch Program you can go to our website and sign up or give us a call.