Brown Tips On St Augustine Grass: Be Prepared For 2023

Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Mattias

St augustine is one of the most desirable warm-season grasses that make up for an aesthetically pleasing turf. Similar to every other grass variety, st augustine also needs proper lawn care and maintenance to grow properly and maintain its appearance. When that care isn’t given, it develops various diseases and oftentimes adopts an unsightly appearance. 

No one likes a lifeless-looking lawn that is covered in irregular patches. However, signs such as this one rarely occur because of natural factors. 

Lack of lawn care can be identified through various signs but in this article, we are going to discuss what brown tips on st augustine grass means.

Brown Tips On St Augustine Grass

Brown patch disease is one of the most common fungi in warm-season turfs and if you have spotted brown tips on st augustine grass then it may be a sign of this threatening disease. It thrives in hot humid conditions but it is also common in late spring and early fall. Since it mostly occurs due to poor lawn maintenance, it is most certainly avoidable.

However, brown tips can also be a result of improper watering, drought stress, insect infestation, and other maintenance-related issues. Once you determine the primary cause, you can solve the problem and put the entire thing behind you. Until then your lawn is weak and vulnerable to damage.

Is your st. Augustine grass lawn slowly turning brown? What may have started off as small brown spots would slowly take over your entire lawn and leave the grass looking unpleasant?

Even though there can be a number of reasons behind the brown tips on st augustine grass, the most common one is the attack of a fungal disease. Lucky for you, this disease is curable and you can revive your lawn with little effort.

Lawn owners take great pride in their property’s appearance and you must want your lawn to look healthy and green as well. If you want to avoid seeing a lawn that is covered in brown patches then keep reading this article and find out what’s affecting the growth.

Why Does Your St Augustine Grass Have Brown Tips

There are plenty of reasons that can be behind the brown tips of your lawn grass. The only way you can solve this problem and recover your lawn is by diagnosing the reason first. Take a look below at some of the most common causes and see where your lawn is lacking.

Fungal disease

As mentioned above, fungal diseases are the most common and probable reason behind the brown tips of your st augustine grass. They spread quickly and particularly thrive under humid conditions. If your lawn’s soil has too much moisture or water dries out at a slower rate then the chances of fungal infestation automatically increase. Lawn diseases such as brown patches, spring dead spots, dollar spots, fairy rings, and gray leaf spots can easily attack your lawn and affect its appearance.

The fungus directly attacks St Augustine roots and decreases their ability to transfer nutrients. When the grass blades do not receive essential food, their tips begin to turn brown. Since fungus particularly thrives in poor lawn conditions and high humidity, brown tips are most likely to appear during fall and spring.

All of the diseases mentioned above are capable of causing significant damage to your lawn and brown tips will be among one the first signs of their presence. Brown patch fungus (large patch disease) is the most likely problem that may attack your st augustine lawn because the grass’ weaknesses align with this disease’s features and gives it a chance to thrive. 

Since you can’t know for sure which fungal disease has affected your lawn, we would recommend looking for particular signs and patterns. Once you diagnose the disease, you can take the necessary measures to solve it. However, the standard solution is to adjust your soil ph levels and ensure that favorable conditions are available. 

Drought stress and dormancy

Brown tips on st augustine grass can also be a side effect of drought stress or dormancy. These two options are closely associated because your grass is just as weak in either. The browning of tips is not always a red alert and a sign of deadly fungus, sometimes it can be an indication of preservation. As you must know, almost all of the warm-season grasses go dormant during the winter months. It is common for the tips to turn brown and for the grass to appear dead during this season. However, it should not be understated and you should conduct a “pull test” to ensure that the grass is not being attacked by fungus. 

Fact: winter dormancy is unlikely to begin before late fall.

.In case you are curious, the grass turns brown under drought stress and dormancy because of natural factors. When the adequate water supply isn’t received, the grass directs all of its previously absorbed nutrients toward survival, and appearance gets neglected. Water is undoubtedly the most important component for healthy growth but when it comes down to lushness and survival, the roots unsurprisingly choose the latter.

As for dormancy, the grass tips turn brown during that period because of environmental stress. St augustine is one of the least cold-tolerant grasses so when cooler temperatures approach, this grass resides into preservation and saves up its energy for the upcoming cold.

There is no need to worry when your st Augustine grass has brown tips because of these reasons. Your grass will green up on its own when the weather changes. 

Improper watering

Speaking of water, it is important to remember that the excess of it is just as bad as its shortage. When you water the grass frequently, the water stays on the leaf blades for a long time and attracts various fungi. Improper watering doesn’t only refer to the frequency of water but time as well.

You should never water the grass in the evening because the sun has already set by that time. The water droplets will not evaporate and chilly breezes at nighttime will make it difficult for the grass to avoid excess moisture. Lawn fungus diseases such as mold and the brown patch will be attracted and your grass will become prone to damage. 

Other than that, overwatering is also dangerous because it increases the moisture level of your field and causes the soil surface to become waterlogged. The roots begin to drown and suffocate beneath the ground which eventually leads the grass to die. The browning of tips may be an indication of root rot and dying grass.

Insects and pests

Insects are capable of damaging your lawn more than you can ever expect. The most common pests for a st augustine lawn are grubs and chinch bugs. Let’s see how each causes brown tips.

Grubs are a type of worm that infests your lawn and eats the grassroots from within. This problem is most likely to occur during the summer months and early fall. What happens is that grub worms feed on your grassroots, weakening them, and decreasing their ability to absorb necessary nutrients from the ground. Considering the fact that the roots are damaged, they won’t transfer food to grass blades and tips will begin to turn brown.

Furthermore, chinch bugs are another likely cause behind the brown tips on your saint augustine lawn. They are highly attracted to St. Augustine lawns and they also attack in summer months. They feed on your lawn and leave dead grass in their wake. 

Chinch bugs are attracted to warm climates and high temperatures which is why they are mostly seen in southern regions.

Unfortunately, the damage caused by these insects is irrecoverable, and new growth needs to be started in order to recover the area. In simple words, insects don’t only cause grass tips to turn brown. They feed on it until it dies and then move on to the next portion.

Other factors 

There are some other factors that cause brown tips to appear on your st augustine lawn grass. Unlike the previous ones, they aren’t as complex and they lie in your control. By fixing these things, you can prevent brown tips in the future and get rid of the existing ones.

  • Soil compaction

Even though 0.5 inch of thatch layer is safe, any more than that can be adverse for your grass. You might not know this but some of the deadliest pests and diseases thrive in the thatch layer. Small insects live there and actively harm your grass while other diseases find unhealthy conditions to be encouraging for their expansion. Since compacted soil makes it hard for water, air, and fertilizers to reach the ground, the grass establishes a shallow root system. This makes up for a weak st Augustine lawn that is even more susceptible to damage. 

Even though soil compaction and thatch layer don’t cause brown tips directly, they are highly impactful. Once you take proper care of your lawn, the likelihood of diseases also reduces.

  • Excessive fertilizer application

Nitrogen fertilizers are highly recommended for a st augustine lawn but their excess application is harmful to the grass. They contain high levels of salt which reduces grass’ ability to intake necessary water. The grass undergoes drought stress and its tips start to turn brown. Using excessive amounts of phosphorus is just as bad as it also contributes to declining surface water quality.

  • Improper mowing

As surprising as it may sound, something as common as mowing can be the main reason behind the browning tips. People don’t usually evaluate this factor and go straight to check for the big problems.

When you mow your lawn too close to the ground, you unintentionally make it vulnerable. Diseases, pests, and insects find it easy to attack your grass and then they cause the tips to become brown.

Other than that, scalping (mowing too low) can also cause brown tips. When the grass blades will be short, their ability to perform photosynthesis will decrease and they will produce less food. Grass will have less energy to maintain its green color and it will gradually turn brown.

In simple words, short leaf blades mean less energy for the grass and the appearance of brown tips as a result.

How To Get Rid Of Brown Tips On St Augustine Grass

If you have finally decided to take the situation into your hands and get your lawn back then we have some great ideas for you. Assuming that you have already read the reasons listed above, we can expect you to understand that brown tips are mostly a result of your own negligence rather than natural factors. The good news is that since you were the one responsible, some simple adjustments in your behavior can prove to be a good start.

  • Always keep an eye out for fungal diseases and apply adequate fertilizers all year long.
  • Evaluate your ground’s conditions through soil tests and make sure that it is well adjusted to st augustine’s requirements. 
  • Aerate the compacted soil and dethatch accordingly
  • Ensure a good drainage system 
  • Fix your watering schedule and remember that early morning is the best time to water grass. Since the heat’s intensity is neither too sharp nor too dull during this time, St. Augustine will be able to absorb the water at a suitable pace. The grass will also get plenty of time to dry off before sunset.
  • You can water the grass infrequently during drought periods but make sure that you water it deeply.
  • Since grub worms are most likely to attack during the summer months, you should take preventative measures and apply adequate pre-emergent herbicides beforehand.
  • Never mow more than ⅓ of the leaf blade
  • Invest your time and resources in proper lawn maintenance 

Brown Tips On St Augustine Grass Summary

Brown tips on st. augustinegrass is not only an unattractive feature, but it can be an underlying sign of a major problem. You might be able to ignore it for a while, but as mentioned above, it is pretty quick to spread.

In this article, we comprehensively discussed brown tips on st augustine grass. If you want a healthy lawn, learning everything about its strengths and weaknesses is extremely important. We talked about the potential reasons behind this problem, the intensity of its effects, and the consequences that occur if it’s left untreated. Most importantly, we shared some of the best tips and effective methods to help you escape this situation. 

Revival of the grass can be a difficult thing but it’s one step at a time. Remember that adequate steps lead to the best results and once the brown tips are gone, your lawn will appear attractive once again. A general rule of thumb is to avoid getting overwhelmed at the sight of brown tips. Remain patient and treat this disease with necessary attention.

Did you find this article helpful? Brown tips are a sign of poor maintenance and unhealthy growth. Since no one wants that label on their head, make sure to share this information with your friends as well.

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