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What Is Wrong With My Lawn?

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

By: Jack LeCroy, Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperation Extension System, jml0003@aces.edu

Living in Mobile, Alabama, comes with many benefits: warm weather, longer growing seasons, and being close to the beach (a personal favorite). Have you ever stopped to think, "How does this affect my lawn?" For the past couple of months, I have helped answer dozens of lawn care questions from concerned homeowners.


As spring rains begin and our warm-season grasses start to green up, the questions start rolling in. Many Mobilians do not realize that we live in one of the rainiest cities in America. We top the list at number one, depending on the list that you consult. That news is essential because our rain can affect everything from when and how to put out fertilizer to disease problems that pop up seemingly out of nowhere. That amount of rainfall and high humidity can make two things grow like crazy: fungus and bacteria, disease causes that affect our most popular grasses, St. Augustine and centipede.


Diseases can be a reason for grass decline in our yards, but some things we also do can stress our grass very quickly. Putting out fertilizer too early in the season is an example. We should fertilize St. Augustine in April and wait for centipede grass until May. Factors like homeowners not following the labeled rates on a bag, not knowing their grass type, watering at the wrong time of day, treating the wrong problem, and not giving our grass enough sunlight can make our grasses look less than their best and leave us scratching our heads. Also, many of our grasses in our lawns don’t take a lot of wear very well. Repeatedly walking in the same spot, parking cars in the yard, or a dog that runs in the same spot will all stress the grass out very quickly.



So, how do I fix my lawn?


First, complete a soil test. (Info at Soil, Forage & Water Testing Lab | Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (auburn.edu) Not all yards need lime or a 13-13-13 fertilizer. Centipede grass is nicknamed the poor man’s grass because we don’t usually have to do very much to it. In fact, if we try to add too much fertilizer, for example, it will start to decline. We can make problems worse by putting out lime and the wrong type of fertilizer. After sending off the soil test, I would inspect the yard and make sure that my grass is getting 6-8 hours of full sun a day. Remember, shade tolerant grass does not mean shade resistant. Shade tolerant grasses still need a minimum of 4-5 hours of sunlight a day. If you are having trouble growing grass in a shady area, make your landscape bed bigger to incorporate the troubled turf and add some flowering shade plants to cut down on your frustrations.

If you are having issues with weeds, try to be proactive instead of reactive. Many times, we don't realize we need to do something about a weed problem until after we see them growing. The older a weed is, the harder it is to control. Using a preemergent at the right time in early spring and fall will dramatically cut down your weed populations to help put a stop to both the warm season and cool-season weeds.

It is imperative that you know the grass type that you are taking care of. We have yearly grass schedules available at our office along with soil test kits to help you start making your lawn the best looking on the block! If you cannot identify your weed or have other lawn questions, contact your County Extension Master Gardener Help Line: Home Grounds and Garden information line 1-877-ALA-GROW (252-4769)


Garden Events for Your Calendar

What: Become a Mobile County MG in 2021

When: Classes (early August-early Nov)

Every Wednesday: 9am - 2:30 pm

Fee: For materials used in 12-week training

Where: 1070 Schillinger Rd N, Mobile

Application Deadline: June 7, 2021

Or call 251-574-8445 or email jda0002@aces.edu


What: Marketplace at Mobile Botanical Gardens

Plant Retail venue at end of our parking lot

When: Fridays, Noon to 2 pm

Saturdays 9 am to Noon

Where: 5151 Museum Drive, Mobile 36608


What: Market in the Park

When: Saturdays – 7:30 am to noon through July 17, 2021

Where: Cathedral Square, 300 Conti Street, Mobile

Look for the Master Gardener Tent!


What: Alabama Garden Chat, a Zoom Space

to learn about seasonal garden problems

When: Wednesdays, 2 - 3 pm (April through August)

Questions: Email AlabmaGardenChat@gmail.com

Join with this link: auburn.zoom.us/j/82398811386


What: Walk the Mobile Japanese Garden

Accessible entrance through trail #1

Where: 700 Forest Hill Drive, Mobile

When: Daylight hours daily

Fee: Free, but donations appreciated


Master Gardener Helpline 877-252-4769


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