About Me

My photo
As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.

Friday, September 12, 2008

St. Augustine Lawns Get a Bad Rap

Hot dry summers can sure make our water bills expensive as anyone who survived this summer can testify. We all like a beautiful lawn but continual watering to keep it beautiful has made many homeowners call to ask for another grass to plant besides St. Augustinegrass.
St. Augustinegrass can be a high water use lawn grass. In fact some cities are banning the installation of St. Augustinegrass in any new home landscapes simply because it has one of the highest water requirements of the commonly used turfgrasses. While this is true what is the requirement? Well, Extension recommends watering St. Augustine just like you do bermudagrass, one inch of water per week! Of course when you water like this the more drought tolerant Bermudagrass will look better than the St. Augustinegrass in really dry years like this one. BUT the St. Augustinegrass will still do just fine. This is really just a matter of personal appeal not a matter of life or death for the St. Augustine.
Right about now you are disagreeing with me but I have proof. Here at our Extension Office on the Inner Loop in Georgetown we have many different varieties of turf so that you can look at their individual differences. We have a large area dedicated to an old turfgrass drought study and in that area is St. Augustinegrass. This patch of St. Augustinegrass has not received any water except for rain. In August is looked dead, really dead. I thought it would not come back, but after a couple of small rains and cooler weather this area is full of new leaf blades. It is certainly not pretty but it is not dead either.
What does this tell us? First St. Augustinegrass is very drought tolerant, not as much as some other turfgrasses but still more than enough for this area. Second, with just a few irrigations this summer it would be in very good shape. Third, we water our St. Augustinegrass too much!
Last, I want to ask a question that most people just can’t answer. If we don’t have St. Augustinegrass to plant, what turfgrass are we going to plant in shade? Some of the zoysiagrasses have shade tolerance but still nothing to compare with St. Augustinegrass.