Yes, we are getting near the transition from summer to fall. Cooler weather is just around the corner and we will have survived another Lowcountry summer. One question that should come to mind is do I want to put out ryegrass for a green lawn all winter or paint the lawn green? Should I just let it go dormant as usual?
If you decide to rye, watch the timing of your preemergent herbicide and the seeding rate you use with the rye. You do not want any trouble in the spring with the transition back to your permanent grass. Many people are hyper-allergic to fire ant stings. Several people each year die from fire ant bites as well as many more end up in the hospital. Bait products are best used over your entire yard (beds and lawn areas) and are very inexpensive. Other broad spectrum products like Bug Blaster and Lebanon Insect Control will kill fire ants and other pests like the "nasty rascal, the chinch bug." Landscape and garden insecticide (contains Spinosad a synthetic organic) is very good at killing fire ants as well as some other insects. The "nasty rascal, the chinch bug," has been bad all spring. Products containing Bifen or Lebanon Insect Control will control "nasty rascal, the chinch bug," fleas and fire ants.
Fleas have been particularly bad this year as well. he fleas that attack our dogs are actually known as cat fleas. Fleas reproduce at a very rapid rate. A female flea averages 1,350 eggs laid in the first 50 days of landing on a host. This is why it is so important to use a growth regulator like Nylar or Precor to control these pests. Nylar is more photo-stable and does not break down in the sunlight like Precor does. This means that you can use it outside as well as inside. Most dogs like to sit in front of a window and watch for squirrels and other invaders in the yard. Using Precor in a place like this will not be as effective as using Ultracide which contains Nylar. Nylar also acts as a growth regulator for roaches.
Alpine Flea Insecticide with IGR is a new product on the market that is working very well. Diatomaceous earth is an organic option.
Gray leaf spot fungus has been attacking St. Augustine grass. The recent afternoon thunderstorms have created a perfect environment for this disease to flourish. This disease likes hot and humid weather, so turn off your irrigation system, mow your St. Augustine lower than normal (2 1/2 - 3 inches), mow your grass more often - every 3-5 days - and pick up your clippings.
These cultural practices will help manage the disease by drying off the grass; however, if you need to use a control product, Honor Guard is a great liquid product and Prophesy is a good granular product to use.
Using a fertilizer like 04-00-10 (a 1 to 2.5 ratio of nitrogen to potash) with minors, humic acid, and root enhancer will give the grass the food to help battle this disease. Army worms have started munching on our grass. This worm seems to like Bermuda grass the most; however, they will sometimes attack other grass. Sod webworms that munch on our St. Augustine and Centipede grass usually attack a little later in the year.
Wasps and other stinging insects seem to be out in full force. Although it can be entertaining to blast them out of the air from 20 feet with Wasp Freeze, you will have much better success if you can locate their nest, wait until late in the afternoon when they all come home, then treat with Delta Dust or some other control product and nail them all at one time.
(Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum's Landscape and Pest Control Supply, 481 Long Point Rd. in Mount Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Call in your questions to the Garden Clinic, Saturdays 11:00-noon, on News Radio 94.3 FM (721-TALK).