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St. Augustine Grass

1. Q. Why won't my grass grow under the tree? I have the best St. Augustine type.

A. The reason for the general poor performance is a lack or alteration of light. The light quality is diminished because trees absorb the same light needed by grass, and since the trees get to it first, they get the most. In addition, trees affect the intensity and duration of light on the turf.

Trees alter conditions by moderating temperatures, leveling out the highs and lows, decreasing wind, increasing humidity and intensifying competition for water and nutrients.

As a result, turf experiences reduced shoot density, more upright growth, increased plant height, decreased root depth and thinner leaves and cell walls, causing fewer carbohydrates to develop in the cell walls, reducing photosynthesis and transpiration rates and making them more susceptible to disease.

2. Q: My folks say one of the reasons they switched to St.Augustine grass 45 years ago was the chiggers didn't infest the St.Augustine as vigorously as Bermuda. What's the story on chiggers? What grass do they like the least?

A: I have heard that old chigger story for years but have never seen a case of a chiggered up bermuda lawn. That doesn't mean you will EVER convince your parents!! Chiggers could easily be controlled with anything(diazinon, malathion) that controls fleas. The reason most folks don't like bermuda grass is because they have fought it in flower beds and gardens for years and can't imagine being a part of planting it! That was before glyphosate herbicides (Roundup, Ortho Kleanup). Also, bermuda grass will not grow in shade so homes surrounded by large trees have to rely on St. Augustine or ground covers (Asiatic jasmine, English Ivy). If they have a full sun lawn condition, tell them to give some of the hybrid bermudas such as Tifway another chance. Besides, the fireants have eaten everything that moves including chiggers and ticks!

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