St Augustine Grass turned to Straw (Why + How to Do)

Your St. Augustine lawn could look more like a field or wheat than a putting green, no matter how hard work you do. Even if you haven’t changed your lawn maintenance routine, your St. Augustine lawn may develop a straw-like appearance. What could be causing this problem?? There are many reasons why St. Augustine turfgrass may be turning brown. These problems can be quickly fixed with the right knowledge.

Why is My St. Augustine’s Grass now a Straw? (The Short Solution)

Watering, nutrients, and weather are the main causes of straw-like appearances on your St. Augustine lawn. St. Augustine lawn grass can appear straw-like because of any combination of these.

8 Reasons why Your St. Augustine grasse may have changed to Straw

You should quickly diagnose the reason for any changes in your St. Augustine lawn’s appearance. Let’s take a look at the common problems in more detail and what could be causing your lawn to suffer and struggle.

All Root Rot

Milder weather can cause TARR (Take All Rootrot), lawn fungus attached at the roots. The pathogen Gaeumannomyces GraminisThis attack the roots of turfgrass and completely destroys any part that grows below the ground.

TARR is visible on the plant’s upper part by the grass blades’ yellowing and withering. This can make the lawn appear patchy or may only affect a small area. If TARR isn’t treated, the lawn may turn brown and become covered in patches. Lawn owners often mistake this problem for underwatering.

It’s important to note that it’s less common to see TARR during the peak of summer or winter as the weather conditions are not right.

White Grubs

The larvae of beetles, also known as grubs, are called grubs. The larvae stage is located under the lawn just below the surface. This is the best spot to eat roots. Once your lawn starts to lose its roots, you’ll notice the top turn brown and start to have a straw-like appearance.

If you are concerned about grubs (read this: Signs that they are in your yard), then grab some shovels to remove the top inch of dirt from the affected areas. If you find a grub, you can also look for it in other areas.

Usually, a couple of grubs around the yard isn’t going to make much of a difference to the lawn, but if you find several in a single square foot, then you’ll need to take some action to get rid of them.

Gray Leaf Spot

Gray leaf is another disease that can affect St. Augustine turfgrass. Gray leaf is a disease that develops in mid-summer. It appears as a spot in the leaf as if it’s been burned. It can cause lawn death and give it an appearance that is straw-like if it is allowed to continue growing.

Gray leaf spot growth can be accelerated by nitrogen, which is a key ingredient. Gray leaf spot disease can be diagnosed if your lawn begins to show gray spots following fertilization.

Chinch Bugs

If you think you have a dry lawn and you’re giving it more water with no effect, then you could have chinch bugs. These tiny black insects are most active during summer in the sunniest parts of your lawn.

If you’re having a problem in the shade, then it’s unlikely to be the chinch bugs, as these guys like the sun. If you see large rings or dying grass with folded blades and a washed-out color, it could be chinch bugs.

Nutrient Levels

Problems with nutrient levels can lead to lawn problems. Too many nutrients can cause problems. Over-fertilizing can result in yellowing or even death of the lawn. Whereas under fertilizing can cause the lawn to brown and die as the lawn doesn’t have enough food. It is important to aim for the middle of your scale. To see which side of the scale you are overdoing, review your fertilizing schedule.

Poor Watering

Too much watering can cause St. Augustine roots to lose their oxygen and nutrients. Constant moisture can cause the root to become rotted. Without enough water, the grass will eventually die. Make sure to check your watering frequency and take a look at what’s below the grass. You’ll want to check the top few inches and make sure it’s holding a bit of moisture.

Cold Weather

St. Augustine will go dormant if the temperature drops. This is to be expected. But if you have a particularly significant drop in temperature, it could make the grass struggle beyond what it’s used to. So, if you see the lawn changing, then take note of the weather and check to see if you’re experiencing out-of-the-ordinary temperatures.

Too much shade

St. Augustine isn’t a grass type that enjoys being in too much shade. In the absence of sunlight, St. Augustine has to work harder to survive. This creates unmanageable stress. St. Augustine grass grown in the shade is usually very thin and weak, and it’s only a matter of time before it turns brown and begins to die. You should keep track of how much sunlight your St. Augustine lawn gets each day as the sun changes throughout every year.

What can you do to save a St Augustine lawn from going to the trash?

These eight issues can make your lawn look like a field covered in hay, but there is still hope. Let’s take a look at how you can tackle each of these common issues.

Take All Root Rot Solutions

You can take care of Take all Root Rot in five steps. To kill the fungus, first use a fungicide. Get a chemical fungicide that targets the TARR.

Once you have removed the fungus from the lawn, it is time for topdressing. Topdressing refers the addition of quarter inch of compost directly on to the lawn. Mixing mushroom compost and Sphagnum peatmoss in spring, fall will give you the best results. This will last for 2 to 3-years.

The third step of the TARR treatment involves aeration. It is best to do it between May and June. The fourth step is to lower the nitrogen rate. This can be done by increasing the levels micronutrients, Potassium/Magnesium and other micronutrients.

The last step is to reduce herbicide use in areas with straw-like appearances. So, you’ll have to stop using targeted weed killer in your yard.

1Chemical FungicideTargeting Chemicals With TARR
2TopdressingMushroom Compost & Sphagnum Peat Moss
4Nitrogen ReductionMicronutrients & Potassium/Magnesium zero Nitrogen
5Herbicide Reduction

How to Deal with White Grubs

White grubs can be eliminated with an insecticide. You can purchase an insecticide to kill white grubs from your local garden store.

Trugreen can be reached at any time. You’ll find that TruGreen’s prices are very competitive and their treatments very effective.

To make grub treatments work, the insecticide must reach ground below the area where the larvae are living. Make sure you read the instructions and drink enough water.

Gray Leaf Spot Treatment

Gray Leaf Spot treatment involves several stages. Let’s take a look at what you will need to do.

Mow Lower

To reduce moisture in your lawn, lower the cut height. Reducing the cut height by ½ inch will reduce the moisture held in the lawn and also help the sunlight reach the crown of the plant.

Reduce your lawn’s frequency

You can let the sun penetrate your lawn more often and keep it dryer by cutting it more often. Your lawn should be cut every 2-3 days.

Bag Clippings

You should use your bag to transport your mower. Clippings can be left on the lawn to retain moisture and block sunlight. Additionally, the clippings will compost and add nitrogen to the lawn, which you certainly don’t want.

Reduce Nitrogen

You should also remove any clippings from your lawn. You should also stop fertilizing your lawn. You can stop Leaf Spot Disease by removing the fertilizer (Nitrogen included). Slow-release fertilizers may take 6-8 weeks to fully dissolve in soil. So, you’ll have to be patient.

Growth Regulator

If all this extra work seems like too much, then a product is available to slow the lawn’s growth. If you have ever wondered why golf courses and places like Disneyland keep their mowing to a minimum, it’s because they use a growth generator to slow vegetation growth.

If you want to keep your lawn neat and reduce growth, a regulator is a good option.

Reduce watering

Reduce your lawn’s water intake is the best way to reduce the amount moisture it receives. You should not reduce the water supply to the lawn so that it becomes dehydrated.

Pyricularia Grisea is treatable

If all else fails try to treat Pyricularia Grisea Fungus. This is a direct treatment that targets the fungus. You can also go to the garden shop to purchase a chemical treatment.

How to Get Rid Of Chinchbugs

Regularly trimming the lawn can get rid of chinch bugs. This is another reason to use a proper fertilizing plan. You can also use a professional treatment or DIY method to get rid. You can quickly address the problem by visiting a local gardening store or calling professionals. You can also introduce predators to eat the Chinch Bugs.

Improved Nutrients

Moderation is key as with all things. So, to avoid overfeeding or starving your lawn, a soil test will give you detailed information on the state of your lawn’s nutrient level. A lack of nutrients is the most common reason for straw-like appearances. However, this test can prove to be very helpful. Once you have the soil test results, you can plan a fertilizing schedule that keeps the nutrients at an acceptable level.

Watering schedule

Watering is a complicated topic. Even though there are restrictions in place, you can still end up overwatering and rotting your lawn’s roots.

You may also end up drowning. It is common for irrigation timers not to work properly, to be set too low or inadequately covered.

As you’ve read, too much water can lead to fungus growth. Watering is complicated, as I mentioned. A moisture tester can help you determine how much water your lawn needs. This simple tool measures the soil moisture to determine how much water your lawn requires. This tool is available at your local garden store for around twenty dollars.

Too much shade

Shade is a difficult issue to address. There isn’t much you can do about reducing the amount of shade other than chop down trees and knock down the neighbor’s house. So, if you’re struggling with shade, then switching to an alternate grass type more suited to these conditions could be the solution.

St. Augustine needs approximately 4-6 hours of sunshine each day. It is the warmest, most shade-tolerant grass. If your lawn is not able to receive enough sunlight, it might be worth looking at other grasses that are more tolerant of the shade.

Summary Chart for St. Augustine Grass & Straw

Here’s a quick chart you can use to help identify which of these problems could be causing your St. Augustine to have a straw-like appearance. This chart is only a guideline. The seasons can also affect the time of problems.


St Augustine Grass turned to Straw (Why + How to Do)

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