Ask Burton: This week, we’re talking about the upcoming lawn fertilization. Our lawns need a good feeding to do their best, but it’s quite possible to overdo things. The best way to do things right is to know where you’re starting from! Q: I have a St. Augustine lawn and last year, fungus ate my yard. Obviously, this is not ideal. How do I fix things properly, and make sure this does not continue to happen?

A: St. Augustine is a vigorous turf grass that likes moderate fertilization; overdoing the fertilizer makes it prone to disease and insect issues. Here are a few things to do in order to do better than you’ve been doing:

  1. Fertilize two to three times per year, normally. St. Augustine does not generally need or want fertilization in hot weather, and disease spread is rampant when you do so. A good average rule of thumb is to start with a feeding in late March, one more in May, and a final feeding in September, if you don’t have a direct measurement otherwise. Don’t feed in June, July, or August in your case.
  2. Get your soil nutrition levels checked. The Texas Agricultural Extension Service’s soil testing lab in College Station charges a modest fee to tell you exactly what you have and what your soil needs to succeed. The directions for taking a sample are simple, and the fanciest test any homeowner could need will run less than twenty dollars. If one or more of your soil nutrients are too high, this is a way you can just KNOW. Knowing is so much better than guessing, and it’ll help us tell you how to properly fertilize a lawn in your particular conditions to do better – or if you need to fertilize at all this spring.
  3. Proper applications of peat moss and fungicide. For most common turf diseases of St. Augustine, our Infuse lawn fungicide is a good prevention and treatment. If you had take-all root rot diagnosed last year (turf starts to die out in large patches in April and May, doesn’t regrow well back into the area in the following months is a good indicator), an application of Canadian peat moss is very helpful in addition to the fungicide. Chip sulfur is also helpful, but slow to make a difference.

Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.