East Texas Ag News: San Augustine lawns require work to get rid of tough weeds

San Augustine was called the “drama queen” of turfgrasses.
San Augustine was called the “drama queen” of turfgrasses.(Karol D on
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 4:19 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) -San Augustine turfgrass is known for being a rather difficult lawn to work with. From an online meeting that I was having several days ago, I heard a humorous description of the beloved San Augustine. It was called the “drama queen” of turfgrasses. I think that’s hilarious and quite accurate.

Many homeowners think it’s the prettiest grass around, yet it has a whole lot of issues. It’s very temperamental and quickly falls to several ailments such as insects and disease.

I got a call from an Angelina County resident named Melba the other day. She was asking me how she could get rid of White clover in her Saint Augustine lawn.

Now there’s a lot of good weed control products out there that will do a fine job of eliminating weeds, but the problem is how it will affect the existing grass. An employee at a local establishment had recommended a certain product to her that was labeled for weed control ‘in grasses’, but not in San Augustine grass.

Melba applied the product according to the label but was very disappointed with the results. The clover in her lawn didn’t look fazed at all, but the San Augustine took weeks to recover.

White clover can be one tough weed in a lawn that can be a drama queen.

White clover is a perennial clover that has a white flower and is typically valued in a pasture that is grazed by livestock. As a legume, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen so well that other plants can utilize it. Basically you get free fertilizer. From university studies, you’ll find that White clover has a creeping growth habit and spreads with stolons or “runners” above the soil with adventitious roots forming at each node.

This growth pattern is one reason for the excellent grazing tolerance of white clover. Livestock only consume the leaves and flowers of the plant, reducing plant injury, and promoting timely regrowth. But in your lawn, this very same growth habit can be annoying when all you want to see is grass.

The safest and best control that I know of is a product called Atrazine. I learned more about this product from a friend of mine that manages a golf course. He is the only fella that I know personally who has a college degree in turfgrass management. Years ago, he told me that Atrazine is the only product that he would put on his San Augustine grass at home.

Are there other products labeled for San Augustine? Certainly. How will they affect this drama queen of a turfgrass? The results vary.

It is true that Atrazine is slow to do its work and that the label only says to use it in the fall and again in the spring (do not take my word, read the label). But will it set back San Augustine? Not once that I’ve seen.

You can find Atrazine at most any garden center or feed store. It may be under the product name “atrazine” or any other number of other product names. Regardless of the name, look for it in the active ingredients. Apply according to the label.

Weeds are nothing more than plants in the wrong place. And for a drama queen, any other plant that takes attention away from it is a weed.

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