Easy Do It Yourself Lawn & Grass Care For Southern Turf
Let me start by saying I am no expert landscaper, but I think my yard is pretty nice most of the time.. On a handful of occasions, a few of my neighbors /people just driving by have stopped me to ask what I do or what kind of grass I have. So, in an effort to help my fellow Shellpoint neighbors I said would write out what it is I do. These steps should work for any yard in the South, Southeastern United States: SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, TX, & LA. Essentially places where there is a lot of high humidity and temps over 90 F for at least three months.
I live in Mount Pleasant, and it took me about 6 years to figure it out and devise a system after having talked to a few landscape buddies and one very experienced Columbia SC landscaper, trial and error, etc.. I finally got it a few years ago. I didn’t know a thing about taking care of a lawn really because I had never had one until I built my house in 2006 so I was just winging it without a clue. As you can imagine it was a serious learning process of problems. Luckily, for the readers of this blog, I have made it a very simple step-by-step to a perfect lawn.
There are some things you’re just going to have to accept – It is work. There is no magic trick to a great yard, it requires a lot of attention. So if you’re not willing to do the work it will show.
You’re going to need a drop spreader to do this.
THERE ARE 3 MAJOR THINGS THAT WILL MESS UP/KILL YOUR LAWN
1.) Fungus (happens when lawn stays too wet for too long). If you overwater your lawn this can happen. If it rains for days this can happen. If you have a lawn that can’t dry out because it’s low and too shady this can happen. To keep fungus from growing you must put down fungicide. All the big box home & garden stores have bags of fungicide as well.
Being able to identify it before it’s too late is key. You’ll start to see yellow blades of grass and brown spots starting. DO NOT WAIT!. Put down the fungicide immediately. It won’t hurt anything, and it’s better to spend $20 or $30 on a bag of granules than it is $3000 on resodding your lawn.
2.) Bugs, mainly chinch bugs, which (have killed my yard in the past) and that’s how I learned that lesson. Luckily, the bug and grub killer will also take care of these. Don’t forget about the moles, because moles are also looking for the chinch bugs’ larvae and mole crickets which can damage your yard. The grub killer will also keep the moles at bay too because they moles are looking to eat the grubs in addition to worms. —– Bug and Grub killer. When it gets really really hot about the end of July and beginning of August is when the chinch bug grubs start to “grow up”, and if you haven’t killed them already through putting down bug and grub killer then you definitely want to put it down the end of July because they will begin to suck the water from the roots of the turf and that’s what kills the yard. I always put down a bag of bug and grub killer at the end of July or the first week of August to be safe. It won’t hurt anything, but the cost of replacing your sod will cost $$ thousands. I like to put it down in the spring to kill whatever may be lurking, and then again, when I know for sure they hatch and come out. put down at least every 3 months minimum. The moles eat worms and grubs, so putting down the bug and grub killer keeps the insect “babies” (i.e. grubs) to a minimum and therefore there is much less food for the moles and they tend to go elsewhere in search of more food, but rest assured they will be back.
3.) MOLES We have A LOT of moles and you probably know this already if you have lived here for any length of time and already own your house.
—- Mole Repellent: This is a granular (or liquid) application that has castor oil & peppermint which evidently (according to the bag) moles do not like so they go to someone else’s yard. It has done a good job for me and keeps them away for the first few weeks, but then they return or new ones find your yard, so I will put it down a second time a couple of weeks later. Remember you can’t necessarily every “get rid” of moles, you can just keep them away for long stretches of time.
You need to come to terms with the fact you’ll never get rid of them completely. You may kill some with traps like No Mole (what I use), or if you have a dog that digs them up, but then you’ll just have a torn-up yard from the dog. However, they are rodents and they breed quickly and spread fast so if you kill a few in your yard it will only be temporary until new ones find your yard (new territory) and take over. Just for you to start over again. It is what it is. The best solution for this is I have found suggestions from others admittedly. All that junk they sell at Lowes doesn’t work, (the fake worms, food pellets, traps, none of it works so don’t waste your time or money). I have been there. The best thing is to put down bug & grub killer, & mole repellent.
CHEMICALS & APPLICATION
Most people have one of 4 species (St Augustine [most popular], Bermuda, centipede, zoysia) and sadly my yard has 3 of them which are the most common and my process works for all of them. I have mostly St Augustine but have filled in dead spots with centipede, Zosia, and the neighborhood had Bermuda already so it has also grown in.
—- About mid-February you will want to put down “weed & feed”. You’ll know it’s time to put this down because you’ll start to see weeds popping up, and growing, (thistle, dollar weed, etc). I do think Scotts bonus S for southern lawns does work best and just follow the instructions on the bag. This kills or at minimum seriously inhibits the growth of weeds, as well as fertilizes the roots of the turf. The thicker the grass the more it kills off the weeds from ever-growing.
—- About 2 weeks after I have put down ‘Weed & Feed”, then if nothing else, for safe measure because it is so common, I put down a fungicide because I don’t even want to roll the dice so to me it’s better to start of the spring with a clean slate. Not to mention the spring and beginning of summer is when we get so much rain that the lawn can stay too wet too long so staying on top of the potential risk of fungus is key. Learn to recognize them when you’re walking around your yard so you’ll know when to put some down. Although the bag says it lasts for 3 months or whatever, I don’t trust it and won’t risk it. I know how hard it is to recover from it. It can quickly take over. I have been down that road with half my yard destroyed. So I keep a bag around at all times. It can easily be spread from the front yard to the back of the yard as well through your lawnmower and that’s why new mowers have a rinsing nozzle attachment on them so you can run water through your mower after cutting and get the fungus out so as not to spread it around from one side of the yard to the other. Fungus is going to also be more likely to start in the shaded areas where the grass gets less sun and can’t dry out adequately.
THE BEST WEED CONTROL
If you still need to spray for weeds but don’t want to kill your grass I use there are two products I use, and I have NO weeds at all in my lawn.
2. Weed Free Zone. You can spray dollar weed and all weeds and it will kill it but not your grass (assuming you follow the directions).
- OPTIONAL – I like to de-thatch my grass as well in the spring. Thatch is last year’s growth that is interwoven together that is now dead. This dead grass will make a harder for new growth to “breakthrough” if you will. So in order to facilitate a healthy lawn, if you take rake and semi abrasively scratch out the old grass from last year this will open up dirt for the new shoots to pop through more easily and get sunlight & fresh air. As well as loosen up the topsoil for better growth. It’s not necessary really, but you will have a nicer yard if do this.
4.) My landscape friend at New Leaf Landscaping, Co. told me that it’s best to keep my lawn about an inch tall, cutting it too short can kill your lawn as well because it is too short and the heat will cook it up and kill it. Plus it looks much better if it’s lush and thick. Raise the mowing height of the lawn mower during summer months; a higher mowing height encourages root growth and reduces heat stress.
—– If you have irrigation this will help keep your yard pretty even with a mole problem (but you’ll still notice their tunnels). I know it sounds obvious, but when you do have moles the problem is that our stifling heat cooks up the grass’ roots the moles have pushed up with their tunnels and the sun’s heat will dry up and kill the turf where they have been. However, if you keep the lawn regularly and properly irrigated the moisture keeps the roots from getting dry and dying. If your sprinkler system applies water at the rate of 2 inches per hour and you wish to apply 0.75 inches of water, then you would need to run your sprinklers for about 23 minutes.
If you follow these simple steps you’ll be good to go and be the envy of the neighborhood too I promise. Trust me, my other neighbors follow these steps and I have watched them save their yard even after it looked dead.