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Brown spots in St Augustine grass

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  • Brown spots in St Augustine grass

    Hello. I have several brown spots in my grass. I think it may be "brown patch" from over-watering. What can I do to clear this up? Images included via the link below.


  • #2
    Re: Brown spots in St Augustine grass

    Do a pH test on your soil. After that you can determine what and if any chemicals or fertilizers you could use on it.

    Doug Green


    • #3
      Re: Brown spots in St Augustine grass

      Lespaul, welcome to the forum. I'm also new to this forum, but wanted to come share some knowledge and learn something new from someone else in the business hopefully. I'm also from Texas and deal with the same turf and encounter the same issues as you, which means high disease and insect pressure.

      First, I'll give my perspective considering I don't know what kind of people browse this forum. I'm not an "Organic Guy" who will tell you to use this Organic product and that organic product. I tried it, many years before even going in business. Soy Bean for fertilizer, not meeting Nitrogen requirements to keep up with our Beramuda or St. Augustine. Corn Gluten for weeds, which had a very mild effect. Corn Meal for fungus, which did absolutely nothing, but force me to disagree with Organics as I watched my lawn disappear year by year. And finally, piling compost that retains moisture into clay soils that did nothing but make a mud-fest mix in our clay after rain, promoting turf disease. My argument to "environmentally friendly" is that some will claim chemicals are harmful to our huge lake (Lake Travis.) My argument is, before when depending solely on organics, by lawn had more fungus, thinned out, and had more run-off then ever into our lake.

      Today, I operate a business in Texas offering only All-Inclusive Service. (Mowing, Pruning, Fertilization, Control of Irrigation, and So forth. Sometimes brown patch can be hard to distinguish here with all of the insect damage. Often Grub and Chinch bug damage is mistaken for brown patch. In your case, you have a definite case of Brown Patch. Notice the healthy grass in the center. This is because Brown Patch starts at a center location. And grows outward. Thus, if left un-treated, your yard can be taken over quickly. Now to the bad news, once you have brown patch, it will re-appear next year. Over-and-Over. The worse news, treating it is VERY EXPENSIVE. The cheapest way to fight against it is changing cultural practices. Any time I get called to a lawn to diagnose Brown Patch there is always one of two reasons behind it. 1. Improper Irrigation or 2. A Homeowner Improperly fertilizing "chasing the greenest lawn."

      To treat it, you need a good curative fungicide. I believe in applying preventives to my lawns. I am able to apply much less product year in and year out as a preventive as the preventive rates are much lower. And I don't have to deal with any customers or call backs for "Brown Patch." Also note, fungicides are grouped by class. You MUST rotate fungicides or resistance develops in that category of fungicide. We use the following products on customers lawns, they are expensive, however we ABSOLUTELY ZERO BROWN PATCH outbreak, even when lawns everywhere in our area have symptoms through the fall and winter. The products we use in rotation are Heritage, Pro-Star, Eagle, and Heritage. We start are fungicide rotation with .3 ounces of Heritage on September 1. Pro-Star goes down on October 1. Eagle on November 1. And the finial application on November 15 with heritage. Using this rotation you will have ZERO brown patch in the fall / winter, even in our VERY HIGH disease pressured state. Apply Merit between May and June for year long grub control and cinch suppression. Inspect the turf and soil closely in July and August for cinch bugs and if necessary treat with 1 ounce of Talstar. This will cover you all year for Brown Patch and Insect Damage in your St. Augustine, which is highly susceptible to both in our state.

      Another issue I see in our state is (TARR) Take-All Root Rot. This is primarily associated with our high soil pH. 100+ soil test down, and I've yet to see a soil test below 7.3 in our area. Most being around 8. With that said, it kills me to see people fertilizing with bags from the hardware store that have nitrogen primarily derived from Urea. Homeowners apply these products not knowing the truth, urea hydrolysis raises pH by removing hydrogen ions. (H+) from the soil solution. Store bought fertilizers containing Urea is not the solution to our soils.

      The next issue I see is, homeowners buying "Slow Release" fertilizers without any kind of knowledge on these products. Keeping turf well fed is a must on nitrogen loving turf such as Bermuda or St. Augustine to keeping a healthy, thick lawn. Most of these slow release products with the exception of Organics is "coated products." They might contain a sulfur coating, polymer coating, and so on. However, people rarely know that these products don't exactly last three months keeping the turf well fed. Both of the commonly used coatings above are "Temperature Dependent." Meaning the coatings break down faster the warmer the temperature. For us in Texas, that's completely useless, however many fail to understand, other then what the bag says.

      Also, I'm against soil test. While they can be useful at times, often they don't tell me what I need to know. A common soil test around here says we have plenty of Phos. and Potassium. What many don't know, is soils are made up of three different forms of Potassium. Slowly available, Readily available, and Not Available to the plant. Our soils contain 90-95% Potassium that is in "NOT AVAILABLE FORUM." So to someone reading a soil test, that is completely unacceptable advice.

      Lastly, I see too many homeowner maintained lawns with serious brown patch issues, simply because they know Nitrogen makes grass green. They then push Nitrogen to push growth and green. However, there are many other nutrients that make green. This is what makes our lawns stand out. While competitors continue to chase after having the greenest lawns, similar to how TrueGreen does, by using lots of Nitrogen. We give lawns a beautiful green that stands out by using micronutrients. Sulfur, Manganese, and Iron are big contributors to a beautiful green color. Our soil levels tend to be very high in calcium in Central Texas where I am due to an abundance of limestone. There is a mg to ca imbalance. Too much calcium, not enough mg. These two need to work together for a healthy lawn. With that said, we develop BEAUTIFUL lawns, by once again adding micro-nutrients rather then nitrogen. We don't use ANY slow release products for feeding. Instead, we feed similar to the golf coarse. We don't need "Sulfur" applications, because we use the correct fertilizer from the start.

      My mix looks something like this.

      Note this mix is sprayed at high volume (5 gallons per 1,000 square feet) nearly year-around, on monthly applications.

      .50N from Ammonia Sulfate
      .40 Potassium from Potassium Sulfate (We use Potassium Nitrate in the Spring / Potassium Sulfate in the Summer.)
      2.2 ounces of Feature 6-0-0 Micronutrients (Iron, Sulfur, Manganese, Magnesium)

      If we need additional sulfur, we use Ferrous Sulfate to supply both sulfur and iron. During the summer, we like to use a Moisture Management program so customers can conserve water and reduce dry spots. If the lawn is on the severe side with a pH in the range of 8.0-8.7, we use Citric Acid in our monthly mix applied at 1 lb. per 1,000. This will also chleate Ferrous Sulfate, to the FS won't stain as much. This will keep the pH down if your soils are calcareous like mine.

      During the summer we like to use a few Organic Products such as Seaweed and Kelp, especially during times of drought.

      I can't stress enough.

      1. Get on a preventive fungicide schedule (Using Heritage and Pro-Star) Eagle if necessary.
      2. Irrigate no more then 1" per week. Once-Week in Spring/Fall. Twice in summer with split applications.
      3. Cut your St. Augustine at 4-5" through Summer. 4" in Fall.
      4. In Texas you will encounter Cinch, and Grubs, so prepare yourself or get on a program.

      Enjoy the healthiest lawn in your neighborhood.


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