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Last Update 06/03/08
Tips for Taking Care of Your St. Augustine Lawn in a Drought

Let it Grow!

There really are no secrets for maintaining a green St. Augustine lawn in a drought without supplemental watering. All it takes is practicing some common sense tips...

Comparison of St. Augustine turf cut at full height of the lawn mower versus neighboring turf cut almost as low as possible.

St. Augustine turf cut at the full height of a Yard Machines by MTD High Wheel mower.

 

Neighboring lawn with lawn mower set almost as low as possible.

 

1) Lift the deck of your lawn mower to its full height so your grass will grow taller. You do not want to scalp your lawn. Cutting at a taller height forces the grass roots to grow longer to reach deeper into the soil for moisture. Also, taller grass helps to shade the roots to slow the rate of evaporation of moisture from the soil.

Grass clippings left on the lawn add nutrients back to the soil.

Grass clippings left on the lawn add nutrients back to the soil.

 

2) Do not bag your grass clippings. Leave them on the lawn to rot, this adds nutrients back into the the soil. It is helpful to use a leaf blower or rake to spread the clipped grass drifts out evenly on the turf. This allows the clippings to decompose quicker and more evenly by not allowing matted clumps to form.

3) Fertilize your turf no more or no less than twice a year with a high quality weed and feed fertilizer. The FloridaGardener advises spending the money on the best quality "Southern" formulation Weed and Feed for St. Augustine turf you can afford. It is really worth the money in the long run. Feeding too much or too little is not good for the best lawn growth.

 

Overfeeding is bad because it forces the turf to grow faster than is healthy for it and actually makes the turf weaker and more succulent to insects and diseases; underfeeding causes the lawn to become weak and encourages attack by insects and diseases. Like Goldilocks, fertilizer application for Florida turf needs to be "just right" -- once in the spring and once in the fall.

Sun scalded St. Augustine Turf cut to short. {Click to Enlarge}

 

Thick & healthy St. Augustine Turf cut high. {Click to Enlarge}

Sun scalded St. Augustine Turf cut too short.
{Click Image to Enlarge}
  Thick & healthy St. Augustine Turf cut high.
{Click Image to Enlarge}

4) Short-cut turf is subject to "sun scald" (Definition: "Clipping grass too closely removes foliage necessary for food manufacturing and exposes stolons to direct sun rays. When this occurs, a brown lesion or burned areas is found on the upper surface of the stolon.", Source: Texas A&M University).

Arrows point to sharpened leading edges on lawnmower blade. Keep your lawn mower blade sharp!

Arrows point to sharpened leading edges on lawnmower blade.

5) Keep your lawn mower blade edges sharp. Dull blades do not cut the turf, but  tear it which speeds evaporation, lawn drying and browning. For more lawn mower and lawn care tips see Lawn Mower Care, How to Tune-Up Your Lawn Mower and A Sharp Blade Keeps Your Turf Looking Its Best!

 

 

 
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