5. Lay out the sod. If you are sodding solid put the squares next to each other. To save expense you can also lay the grass out in a checkerboard pattern but it will take longer to cover. St. Augustine sod comes is grown on a thick gummy layer of clay soil to make transporting and harvesting more efficient. To have a good lawn you have to dissolve and defeat this soil. After it is all laid out soak slowly and thoroughly with a sprinkler until you are sure the water has been absorbed by the clay and the layer of natural soil is now wet as well. This will take a while and do it slow to avoid runoff. If you are under watering restrictions you can soak the sod with a hose by laying it on the grass and running it slowly until the watering level is reached. This is an important step. You want the root bearing layer of clay to be in solid contact with the native soil. Carefully step on each square of sod to firm it in place until you are positive contact is made. You can also rent a roller which is then filled with water to provide weight to speed up this process. NOTE: For the very best results use a watering can to soak each square with a gallon of water mixed with two ounces of Nature’s Guide Root Stimulator. In a large area this can be a time consuming process but it will help new roots spread much faster.
6. Put down an application of Nature’s Guide Premium Turf Food 6-1-4. The normal application rate is 4,000 square feet per 40 lb. bag. For new turf double the rate to 40 lb. per 2,000 square feet. Because of its organic content of alfalfa, soybean meal, and molasses this amazing fertilizer also acts a a soil amendment by adding nutritious organic matter to the soil. Apply it while the soil is still wet from the first soaking. The fertilizer pellets will begin to absorb this moisture then swell and break down into a much finer material. After application do not water for a day or two until the surface is dry. Then water again slowly enough to allow absorption without runoff. This will wash the fertilizer and its organic components deeper into the gummy clay layer. The fertilizer will increase microbial activity in the clay layer as its nutrients are slowly released.
7. During June, July, and August spray the lawn with Nature’s Guide Lawn and Garden Fertilizer. With a mixture of seaweed, molasses, Chilean Nitrate, and compost tea. much of the nutrition will be absorbed through the foliage and the remainder will feed the soil microorganisms that keep your lawn green and help increase moisture penetration. This fertilizer will not burn even in the hottest weather and monthly applications will speed leaf and root growth.
8. Wait until the grass is at least three inches high before mowing. For the first couple of months do not cut shorter than two inches. This will allow the grass itself to shade its own roots and retain more moisture. Never use a grass catcher. Allow the clippings to remain on the soil so that they will in turn add more organic matter and be processed into food by soil microbes.
The worst nemesis of St. Augustine is a viral disease known as St. Augustine Decline or SAD. Most varieties today have a resistance to this disease with no known control. It can be hard to avoid unless you mow your own grass. It is spread by direct physical contact with implements that have been used on affected grass. By using your own mower on your own lawn the chance of SAD can be all but eliminated.
For years we treated all lawns with thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals to kill grub worms and the elusive Chinch Bug. Except in the most unusual and extreme circumstances these pests are not really a problem. Most of what is presumed to be their damage can be attributed to what we know now as microclimates. Grass planted by concrete surfaces, walls, or driveway is more susceptible to heat damage by reflected heat or drying out because of retained heat of these areas. A little extra attention to watering can solve these problems. Follow up with a good soaking of Nature’s Guide Liquid Seaweed every couple of weeks during the hottest weather to increase heat resistance and mitigate salt damage from water salinity.
Starting a St. Augustine Lawn
A healthy lawn is a valuable addition to any home. It adds a depth, color, and texture that nothing else can. You do not need a degree in horticulture or an agricultural obsession to have a beautiful lawn. By following a few rules and using Nature’s Guide products any lawn can be a showplace. Lawn grass varieties vary with your geographical location. This article is written specifically for the Texas St. Augustine lawn.
Starting a new lawn
Starting a new lawn or rejuvenating an old one is not the daunting task it appears to be.Larger lawns are a little more intimidating but they can be broken into sections if time and expense are a problem.
The most important thing to remember is that once the grass is planted you will not have an opportunity to work the soil from scratch again. You can fill and level with impunity and add a good base of organic, moisture holding amendments to the soil to provide optimum growing conditions. The most expensive part of a new lawn will be the actual grass itself. With a little labor, and time well spent, you can make an investment that will last for years.
1. Assess the property and take note of shade and sun. Many of us who have lived in the same house for years do not notice how much shade has increased. Trees and shrubs grow, new structures are built that affect our sun exposure. Even trees or structures on your neighbors property can have an effect.
All grass needs sun, even the more shade tolerant varieties like St. Augustine and some of the fescues still need sun. NO grass will grow in total shade. Often we can see where grass has died or receded under the drip line of a tree. This can be due to shade and a trees ability to rob grass of water and nutrients. Some common trees like the the Black Walnut, Hackberry, Southern Wax Myrtle, American Sycamore, Cottonwood, American Elm, and Red Oak are allelopathic. Alleloppathic plants are those that give off natural substances that inhibit the growth of competitors. The natural chemicals that these trees give off combined with their shade makes establishing good grass an uphill battle. If you have doubts about your sun exposure take some pictures and discuss it with a nursery professional.
2. When you have the shade restrictions figures out you will be starting with a blank canvas. The more work you put in now will be the most important aspect of the entire project. By spending one weekend you can build a lawn that will last for years.
Preparation it the key to success. If you do not have a rear tine tiller, get to the nearest home improvement store or rental agency that has one. It will allow you to complete most projects in a day. (If you start early). The other tools you will need are a bow rake, a leaf rake, a good shovel, a watering can or sprayer, and a water source and hose.
3. Start by making a couple of passes with the tiller set on a high setting just enough to barely break the soil over the whole area. Then rake away all the rock and top growth. Continue the tilling and raking process, setting the tiller a notch deeper each time until you have clear bare soil. Fill in any holes or depressions now and pack them down so they do not reappear with the first rain.
4. Cover the area with 1/2 to 1 inch of Nature’s Guide Shale & Compost or Nature's Guide Compost , and spread an application of Nature's Guide Dried Molasses over each 3,000 square feet. Till again only enough to mix it into the top three inches. Rake again with the bow rake to level. Check that the surface is level and that you have moved enough soil around to fill any low spots.