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One Simple Trick to Improve your Lawn
St Augustine turf that is 4 inches tall or higher is the best looking lawn, very drought tolerant, chokes out weeds – and did I mention it is the best looking lawn. “Tall lawn“ is an oxymoron to most people, because if you grew up anywhere in the world other than the Gulf Coast, you believe lawns are mowed short – that’s what makes them a lawn.
Not so for St Augustine! St Augustine turf “anatomy” (the physical structure) is quite different than other turf grasses and MUST be maintained at 4” tall or higher to survive and thrive (thriving lawns look better).
Two Distinctives of St Augustine Turf
St Augustine turf has two distinctives that prevent it from thriving as short lawn and looking great as a “Tall Lawn”:
1. All but the roots of St Augustine grow on top of the soil – the first 2” of St Augustine are the tender plant stems. The stems require the leaves above to protect them from the summer sun. A stem exposed to the summer sun quickly withers and dies. Yet stems protected by a thick canopy of leaves will thrive and produce more stems and leaves.
2. The leaves of St Augustine grow erect and are very rigid – like the bristles on a paint brush. The erect leaves form a dense canopy above the stems intercepting sunlight for photosynthesis and blocking all sunlight from reaching the stems below.
Skeptics have Poor Lawns
Some accept the higher mow height without question and they have great lawns. Others doubt but raise their mowers and they have great lawns. But the skeptics – the ones who only believe a lawn is a lawn when it is short – always have weak, thin weedy lawns. Don’t be a skeptic! Raise your mower as high as it will go!
How Tall is Your St. Augustine Turf?
Simple – measure the distance from the soil to the tip of the leaves. You can do this easily with a pencil and a ruler. Using the eraser end of the pencil push the pencil into the St Augustine turf until it reaches the soil. Slide your finger down the pencil until you hit the top of the St Augustine turf. Measure the distance from eraser to your fingers and that is the height of your St Augustine turf.
Below 4” = Bad - Above 4” = Good – it is that simple.
How it Works
So many people think to get a great lawn they need to replace the existing lawn with a new one. Yet, I have recovered many lawns by simply raising the mowing height and being patient and tolerant while the canopy reaches the 4” height.
For example: A lawn that has been maintained at a 2” height (“mowed to the bone”) is weak, thin and weedy. First thing to do is to skip a week or two of mowing. Then raise the mower as high as it will go. The first mowing will just nick the tops off of weeds and such and level the lawn. Meanwhile the St Augustine is developing roots and stems – preparing to overtake the lawn. Each week your mower seems to be mowing “nothing at all” but you will notice the St Augustine turf is becoming thicker and more aggressive choking out weeds and filling in bare areas. It takes time for the St Augustine to grow the stems and leaves needed to be a thick lush St Augustine Lawn. Don’t despair, keep the mower high and within a few months, you will see your St Augustine transform from weak, thin and weedy to a tall, lush green lawn.
Want a New Lawn for Free?
Raise the mower to as high as it will go, be consistent about mowing at this height and be patient while the lawn “grows up”.
ILoveTurf.com - May 9th, 2010
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