Step 1 – Fertilization. We recommend something with a 1-0-2 ratio. In other words, 1 part nitrogen, 0 parts phosphorus, and 2 parts potassium….like an 8-0-16 for example. Obviously the 1-0-2 ratio is meant as a starting point. A local expert can better give you specific needs for your area. If you have trouble finding a fertilizer with that ratio, a fertilizer with a 1-0-1 ratio will also be acceptable.
Optional Steps 2, 3, 4
Step 2 – Fungicide. Watch for fungus outbreaks like large patch and grey leaf spot. Large patch appears in somewhat circular patterns…usually about 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Grey leaf spot is easily recognizable by grey lesions on the grass blade. If you have had a fungus in your St. Augustine or suspect you have one, put down a fungicide to help the grass enter into the cold months healthier. You will likely need multiple applications. Remember to wait 21 days between each application.
Step 3 – Insecticide. With the exception of the resistant St. Augustine Captiva, it’s been another bad year in many places for the dreaded chinch bug….the number one lawn enemy of St. Augustine grass. Chinch bugs are about the size of the tip of a writing pen but can be seen if you get down on your hands and knees. Something else that has been bad this year are fall armyworms. They are much easier to spot as they chow down on your lawn. Heres the thing, if you have had or suspect you have pests, you can spray your lawn with insecticide to get rid of them. But if you don’t have any lawn pests, and don’t suspect that you do, you can hold off putting down insecticide in the fall.
Step 4 – Weed Control. When the temperatures start dropping, summer weeds will start dying off and winter weeds will start to pop up. In some areas of the country, winter weeds aren’t a big problem. If you haven’t had problems with them in the past, forgo putting down any herbicide this fall. However, if you know that weeds in the winter time are an issue for you, get a pre-emergent herbicide from your local lawn care store and apply it to the lawn now to stop the winter weeds from popping up.
Step 5 – Mowing. Mowing in the cooler months is slightly different. Leave the St. Augustine a little bit higher than normal to encourage deeper root growth for the winter. Basically adjust your mower settings to go up one notch.
Step 6 – Watering. As for watering, as temperatures drop, grasses won’t need as much irrigation….so adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Too much watering can lead to fungus and disease outbreaks.
Remember with all lawn products be it fertilizer, insecticide or herbicide…read the label and follow the proper instructions.