28 May Summer Maintenance Tips for Your St. Augustine Lawn
Summer Maintenance Tips for Your St. Augustine Lawn
Summer is here! With public distributions of the COVID-19 vaccine, most of us can finally get outside and enjoy the sunshine with friends and family! When it comes to inviting guests over, lawn care nuts like us enjoy having the best looking yard on the block. Sod University combines a few lawn care tips for your St. Augustine this summer. Be sure to also check out our series of Homeowner Maintenance Guides for generic St. Augustine, Palmetto® St. Augustine and CitraBlue® St. Augustine.
St. Augustine Grass Summer Mowing
Summer mowing is one of the most dreaded outdoor chores as temperatures rise and physical exertion becomes exhausting. It’s even more annoying that you have to keep up with frequent mowing because when the grass gets too tall, the lawn mower becomes harder to push.
St. Augustine mowing heights during the summer generally range from about 2–4 inches in height, however, if your St. Augustine is located in partial shade, keep the mowing height to 3–4 inches. Palmetto performs better with a mowing height 2–2.5 inches and CitraBlue performs better at a mowing height of 2–3 inches during the summer. Floratam continues to perform its best when heights are kept between 3– 4 inches. Never remove more than a third of the leaf blade. If more than this amount is removed, the grass will stress and turn brown for a short period of time.
If you are returning from a summer vacation, you may have to mow multiple times to get the grass back to its desired height. Be sure to wait about 3–5 days between each mowing. If you want to reduce the amount of time spent outside mowing your lawn as much as possible, check out our blog on Strategies for Reduced Mowing Inputs During the Summer.
St. Augustine Grass Summer Fertilization
St. Augustine grass, as well as any type of turfgrass, requires different nutrients as seasons change. This is because outdoor temperatures change throughout the year and, as a result, so do soil temperatures. Your lawn will more than likely endure some form of stress from the summer heat. It’s important to feed the grass with the appropriate amount of nutrients to help out with this stressful period.
Grass requires less nitrogen in the summer than it would in the spring when it’s coming out of dormancy and trying to green up. Nitrogen promotes new growth, which will not survive in the heat of the summer. The wrong fertilizer combined with excess sunlight during the summer can easily cause scorched spots in your yard. To prevent this, Sod University recommends two different fertilizer options for the summer. You will only need to use one of the two options for summer fertilization. Using both at the same time may result in burns in your lawn.
The LawnifiTM Summer Fertilizer Box is a liquid fertilizer program designed to give lawns the nutrients they need to survive and flourish during the hot summer months. With one bottle of Maintain and two bottles of Recover, the Summer Fertilizer Box’s application schedule will give your St. Augustine nutrition all summer long. Maintain’s 16-0-4 formulation works to fortify your lawn with potassium, amino acids and carbon. Recover’s 13-0-0 formulation was created to provide the optimal balance of nutrients to lawns as temperatures start to rise. In addition to nitrogen, Recover delivers critical micronutrients like soluble manganese, iron, sulfur and carbon, which help your lawn get through the dog days of summer.
Lawnifi Foundation is a granular fertilizer option that comes in a 25 pound bag and lasts for three months. With a 29-0-5 NPK formulation, Lawnifi Foundation is the perfect granular fertilizer for lawns and gardens. The two percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation’s mixture helps plants carry oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plants to promote a green, healthy lawn. Featuring slow-release nitrogen, Foundation gradually feeds your lawn over an extended period of time without overwhelming your lawn with nitrogen during the summer. Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Summer Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking on the two products below. For more generic information about the Lawnifi brand, read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
St. Augustine Grass Summer Watering
The summer season comes with significantly warmer temperatures and a longer amount of time with sunlight. This frequently tempts homeowners to water the lawn more often to make sure it’s hydrated. This is not always recommended as waterlogged soils in warm climates are ideal environments for disease outbreaks. Despite the hot temperatures that occur during the summer, St. Augustine should only need about one inch of water on a weekly basis. This is best accomplished with one or two waterings a week. Water in the early mornings for longer periods of time, less frequently and take any rainfall into consideration. Watering your lawn in the early morning decreases the dew period. As a result, this also decreases the amount of time the grass blades are wet, which is a helpful disease management practice. If you aren’t sure how much water your St. Augustine is receiving, consider conducting a simple and cheap irrigation audit. If the lawn seems to become too warm or starts accumulating scorched, brown spots, instead of adding more water, consider adding a layer of top dressing to keep it shaded and cool. Read more about this in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost.
St. Augustine Summer Weed Control
The summer season is one of the worst seasons for herbicide applications on any type of turfgrass. When temperatures reach or exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, herbicide chemicals will damage the grass. It is best to wait until it gets cooler and apply a post-emergent herbicide to any weeds that are currently in your yard. Be sure to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall to keep fall and winter weeds out. Learn more about the timing for herbicide applications in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications.
This doesn’t stop you from removing weeds during the summer altogether, though. You can always hand-pull or dig out the weeds. You can also spot-treat them with a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate or other non-selective alternatives. Be careful though—non-selective herbicides will kill any plant it comes in contact with whereas a selective herbicide, as its name suggests, will kill off certain types of weeds it’s labeled to treat. Glyphosate and other non-selective herbicides will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with…this includes your grass. If you choose to use a selective herbicide anyway, be sure to use one that has Atrazine as its active ingredient. St. Augustine is sensitive to a lot of herbicides and Atrazine is one of the safer options. Some examples of Atrazine-based herbicides include Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns For St. Augustine and Centipede, Southern Ag Atrazine and Hi-Yield Atrazine Weed Killer.
A few common weeds you might see during the summer are knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, crabgrass, goosegrass and dallisgrass. If temperatures are below 85 degrees, it is safe to apply a post-emergent herbicide for any summer annual and perennial weeds. Be sure to read product labels thoroughly before application.
Pictured above from left to right: Knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, crabgrass and goosegrass
- Coverage: One bottle covers 3,720 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Atrazine 4.00%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor general weed control for St. Augustine and Centipedegrass.
St. Augustine Grass Summer Insect Control
Insects can be a real nuisance in the summer. Bugs like fire ants or mosquitos aren’t the only ones to watch out for—there are a lot of insects that can cause severe damage to your lawn. Some of the most common summer insects include chinch bugs, grub worms, mole crickets, sod webworms, fall armyworms and nematodes.
Pictured above from left to right: A chinch bug, grub worm, mole cricket, sod webworm, fall armyworm and nematode.
Grub worms are one of the main insects to watch out for at this time. Preventative treatments for grub worms can be made anytime around June, which is around the time adult beetles are flying around and laying eggs. Apply a systemic insecticide like Merit 0.5G to prevent grubs from taking over. If you notice grub worms in your lawn, Scotts GrubEx or Dylox 6.2 Granular Insecticide can be applied as treatment.
Chinch bugs can also be bad around this time—especially in St. Augustine. Signs of a chinch bug infestation include a spotty pattern of patchy grass that almost looks like drought damage. If you know you have a chinch bug problem, apply Dylox 6.2 to knock them out quickly and reduce the amount of damage they can cause before problems get too severe. On the other hand, a mole cricket infestation can be identified by their tunnels which push up soil and grass, as well as the presence of brown and dying grass due to mole cricket feeding habits. Nematodes can be a little tricky to spot because they are located below the soil in the roots and they are microscopic. Signs included stunted plant growth, premature wilting and the yellowing of leaf blades (chlorosis).
Some of the insect control products listed below are labeled to treat these common insects. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. Learn more about different types of lawn insects in Insect Identification.
St. Augustine Grass Summer Fungus Control
Disease outbreaks in St. Augustine lawns are pretty uncommon at this time, however, they can still happen—especially if you overwater your lawn during the summer. The most common of them in St. Augustine at this time are grey leaf spot and large patch, which occur when conditions are warm and wet.
Pictured above: Grey leaf spot in St. Augustine grass.
Although certain chemical solutions found in fungicides have the ability to cure lawn disease, there are a few cultural methods you can perform to keep disease outbreaks from occurring beforehand. These cultural methods are common maintenance practices found in our St. Augustine Homeowner Maintenance Guide. Overtime, these maintenance practices promote a healthy lawn that can withstand stressors and fight off things like insects or disease.
However, there are a few recommended disease control products we’ve listed below. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. You can learn more about these diseases in Identifying Common Lawn Diseases.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredients(s): Propiconazole 1.45% and Lamda-cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for an even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor topical/contact fungus and general insect control.
Summer maintenance tips for your St. Augustine lawn are mostly about keeping it healthy and stress-free during the hot summer temperatures. This will help it continue to thrive when temperatures eventually cool down and we enter into the fall season. We will see you back here in the fall for our updated fall maintenance tips for St. Augustine.
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