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Dead spots near the sidewalk

Hello everyone.


So this is my dilema. I live is Southern California i have Mostly St. Agustine grass and i was told to water it for 30-45 min a day which i do. it has done a good job of squeezing out weeds i had up there. i was told to Mow the lawn short and add Fertilizer which i did. The rest of the lawn is reacting well to this except the edge that is near the sidewalk it looks like this. What should i do next to help this section fill in and green up. Thanks for any help.



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Posted 2012-07-24T17:37:10+0000  by tubbyrob tubbyrob

Hey Tubbyrob,

Welcome to the community and thanks for the question! We don't deal much with St, Augustine grass here in the northeast, but, I know the care instructions for that turf, and you are following it to a "t"! We do however have dogs here, could that possibly be "death by urine"?  Seems to me that it could be, close to the sidewalk, do you have many people that walk their dogs past your home?  Dogs will try to cover the scent of the last dog to "squat by". I suggest you monitor that, see if you have guest on your lawn.

Urine is high in acid and will burn turf. Lime will help to neutralize the site and help the turf as well! If you find that dog urine is the cause of the burnt spots, we do sell dog deterrent at The Home Depot, to help combat your intruders!  This may not be the case but it was my take.  Let us know how things are growing, we want to help you green up your brown spots!  Good luck!   BostonRoots

Posted 2012-07-24T18:54:25+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS

Hi tubbyrob,


Thank you for your question and welcome to our community.  I also have St. Augustine in my back yard and I love it.  It is very kid and pet friendly.  From the looks of your pictures, there seems to be a bit of a slope on your front yard.  It looks like more of the water is running onto the side walk the water than soaking into the grass. 


In IMAG0992, the ground appears to be very dry.  One of the conditions here in SoCal, is compaction.  This causes the water to run off the grass rather than oak into it.  Have you ever aerated your lawn?  I just recently did my back yard and with weeks there was a major difference in green.  


In addition, it is also possible to have some of the sprinklers not working properly so be sure to turn them on and check how much water is going to each area.  With St. Augustine, you do not want to be watering in the evening!!  This will cause a fungus and your grass with start dying off in patches.  I water my St. Augustine 2-3 times a week for about 30-45 minutes with good results.   


In IMAG0993, there appears to be a spot that looks "very" green. Is that a sprinkler head??  If so, then the water on the rest of the lawn is not reaching down to the root system.  Do you have a hose end sprinkler and a Tilling Fork??


Tilling Fork for aerating lawn or trees.jpgHose end sprinkler,Twin Melnor.jpgHose End Multi Pattern ornamenal Melnor.jpg


This is a quick way of aerating a small area of your lawn.  Take the tilling fork and push it into the ground 3/4 of the length of the forks.  Rock the tines back and forth so that you are making small holes in the ground.  Repeat this step every 6 inches all over the areas that appear to be dry.  Next, set you hose end sprinkler in the prepared area and water until it appears the water is running onto the sidewalk.  Stop, then wait about 15 minutes and repeat.  I know it seems tedious, but the objective is to get water to the root system of your grass.  


If the grass starts to green up in the next few days then compaction was your issue.  If you have been watering late in the day or in the evening, stop doing so, follow the above procedure and add a lawn fungus control to save your grass for this year.  


                                         Scotts lawn Fungicide.jpg


If you would like to aerate your lawn, The Tool Rental Department at your local Home Depot should have a aerating machine that will make quick work of this project.  One word of caution though, be sure to mark your sprinklers before you use the aerating machine.  The tubes are about 3-4 inches long and can easily break any sprinkler head.  I did not have any in ground sprinklers in my back yard when I aerated.  It makes it easier, but if you do, just mark them and do not run over them!! 


Do not mow your St. Augustine short!!  This will burn it in the hot sun.  Your grass should be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.  Be sure that you are using a fertilizer that is appropriate for St. Augustine.  A standard fescue fertilizer is TOO strong and can burn your lawn.  Be sure to use a nitrogen content that is about 21-27%.  Anything higher will result in a burn for your St. Augustine grass.  Ironite is also a great additional nutrient and can be used along with any appropriate fertilizer for you grass.


I hope this gives you a few good ideas on how to proceed.  Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.  




This has been another of

Posted 2012-07-24T19:23:32+0000  by Rick_HD_OC

Thank you both for your input. There might be a urine situation going on i have not noticed it but it is a posability. Rick There is no slope i was just holding the cam at a angle im sorry about that. The water run off is just my bad aim with the hose. i do not have a sprinkler system i water twice a day in the A.M. and again around 5:30-6 pm is that to late to water? Should i cut down to once a day in the morning instead and not do the afternoon session? i Aerated my lawn about a month ago and threw EZ seed over it thinking that might help the dry section but i may need to aerate it again.The spot that is "very green" is actually an old bare spot that i prepared and layed ezseed over and now is filling in with a mixture of tall fescue and st. agustine that is spreading. I only mow the lawn short when im going to spread fertilizer because that is what was recommended to me for the fertilizer to settle into the bottom and the roots easier but the lawn is kept tall due to the heat we are experianceing this summer.

Posted 2012-07-24T22:07:06+0000  by tubbyrob

Hi again tubbyrob,


Sorry bout the hill thing!!lol   For the West Coast, try not to water much past 4pm unless you have a lot of sun and air circulation to get the grass to be dry by sunset.  Morning watering is best for both grasses.  Do not water by hand!   The water needs to rain down on one spot for the entire 30-45 minutes to be effective and must percolate down about 3-4 inches.  Yes, animal urine can over fertilize your lawn. That was a good point by Boston Roots.  For that issue, you can use a product called Critter Ridder by Havaheart.  It is basically an oil of pepper base that is very pungent!!  It should be carried by most of the Home Depot Stores here on the West Coast.  


Critter Ridder by Have a Heart.jpg


The only way to disperse the urine already deposited is to use a dish soap and  water mixture in a watering can and flood the area with the mixture.  This will help to breakdown the urine.  Once it has been washed away, the area just outside this dead spot will actually turn a very bright green due to the nitrogen left over.


Yellow spot from mans best friend


Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.


Posted 2012-07-24T22:35:31+0000  by Rick_HD_OC

should the lawn be cut short to spread fertilizer or cut to normal height and spread it that way?

Posted 2012-07-25T20:59:20+0000  by tubbyrob

Howdy Tubbyrob,


I'll throw in my two cents since it's seems your lawn has some serious problems.


1) With St. Augustine grass, the lawn should only be about 2-3 inches. It's a good idea to always use a grass catcher on St. Augustine grass to keep thatch from developing.


2) At this time you should only use a fertilizer without a weed killer,(it might stress the lawn even more).


3) As correctly prescribed by "RicksPicks", aeration would be a good idea to have your soil absorb as much water as possible, with staying around so long that it creates fungus. I like to add gypsum to keep the soil from compacting.


4) Watering more than once a day is not a good idea. This will definately cause fungus problems and the roots will grow sideways instead of down.


5) The usual watering pattern is either 3 days a week at 10 minutes or 2 days a week at 15 minutes. Either way I think your watering too much.


Let us know how this works for you.


Happy Gardening,





Posted 2012-07-26T17:53:24+0000  by Dave_HD_OC

Greetings Tubbyrob,

I was just wondering how you are doing with your lawn restoration? Were you able to figure out the cause of your "browning " patches by the sidewalk? Have you become a true "turf detective"? I have been thinking of your dilemma and just wanted to follow-up and see how things are growing?? Let us see some(hopefully fresh) pictures, the community is here... for you!  Look forward to seeing some results.....BostonRoots 

Posted 2012-08-07T14:06:22+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS

Hello everyone. well my lawn has improved some thank you all. it still has a few issues like a few dried up spots after i mow it. i mow it to about 3in and in certain spots it is green on top but as soon as the mower goes over it is brown and dried up. some of the problems near the sidewalk have also improved but now it is greening up but not thinkining. from a distance it looks nice and lush but as u get closer u can actually see to the bottom and see the dirt. also i belive there might be a fungus on a section of my lawn the is a brownish color to the grass in the middle of the lawn and it does not grow. it is not a brown like dried up it appers to be a dark brown haze on it. but the grass is still green but with that haze to it and will not grow at all there. i have mowed twice and both times that section has not been cut because the blade wont reach the grass. i will be attending a workshop on saturday for fall preping my lawn. but any suggestions on here would be greatly appreciated. i will try and post some fresh pic's soon and show my progress.


Thank you again and hope to hear from you guys

Posted 2012-09-14T18:17:56+0000  by tubbyrob


Posted 2012-09-14T20:16:02+0000  by tubbyrob

Hi again tubbyrob,


It is great to hear from you.  I am glad to see that your lawn is doing better.  Some of the thinner spots on your lawn can be thickened up just with regular watering.  St. Augustine grass has a deeper root system and responds much better with deep watering as opposed to short shallow.  In California, do not water your St. Augustine at night!!! Best watering times are early AM to late morning. 


I had the same issue with my St. Augustine lawn in my backyard.  I stopped night time watering and the problem was resolved.   You will promote a fungus by watering at night that will kill off your St. Augustine grass in patches resulting in the dried brown look that you are experiencing.  It is also very important that you lawnmower blades be very sharp, otherwise you will be ripping the grass rather than cutting it.  If the top of the blades of grass are ragged and brown then you need to sharpen your blades.  Be sure to mow once a week or your St. Augustine will get too tall

and the lower grass blades will be sun deprived also causing them to brown and even burn in our hot sun.


To help retain daytime moisture in your St. Augustine, you can add some Kellogg’s “Garden Soil"which is available at your local Home Depot Garden Center.  You can put as much as 1/2 of the Garden Soil over the thin areas.  It will be a good idea to use the Scotts Fungus Control to get a quick handle on the existing issue. 


            Kellogg Garden Soil.jpgScotts Lawn fungus Control.jpg

I believe you also had a problem with the local K-9's using your lawn as a rest stop as well.  The best defense here will be a regular application of soapy water to the affected area.  The dish soap application will help to break down the urea to something more acceptable to your St. Augustine.  


As the St. Augustine matures it will naturally thicken up.  A two inch thick mat is OK but letting the grass grow too tall will deprive the lower level grass blades of the needed sunlight.  The Dried up portion is very synonymous with a fungus though.  The below picture is what my back yard looks like now.  It used to look like your yard but I stopped watering at night and it cleared up over the winter.  The brown image behind me is from my fire pit.  It got too hot for the grass and the hot burning log that fell on the grass did not help either. (opps!)




Chameleon Dial and Spray (2).jpg



Remember that you St. Augustine may start to go slightly dormant as we get into the later months of October.  As the ground temperature cools down, your grass will begin to go into its semi dormant stage and start to looks like it is dying.  This is normal for the winter.  As long as you grass has be well watered, you can think about adding a higher nitrogen fertilizer to your St. Augustine.  A fertilizer with 29-30% nitrogen will work well once our current hot temperatures start to back off.  Right now it is still too hot to use the higher nitrogen grass fertilizer.


You can also use Ironite which is a mineral replacement.  Ironite only contains about 1% nitrogen and is safe to use along with your regular grass fertilizer.  

Ironite Liquid Lawn Fertlizer.jpgIronite Mineral Supplement Fertilizer.jpgVigoro Super Green.jpg


Just got your pics and yes it does look like a fungus.  Be sure you do not have any leaks in your sprinkler system that will not allow the grass to drain during the night time.  I noticed that the area  to the left of the camera (top pic) and to the right of the camera (bottom pic) is much greener and taller indicating that it is getting more water.  Regular weekly mowing of your grass will help to even the grass out too.  


Thank you for the updated pictures of your lawn.  Let me know if you have applied the Scotts Lawn  Fungus Control.  Best of luck with your project. 


This has been another of,

Posted 2012-09-14T20:40:46+0000  by Rick_HD_OC
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