Lawns in Florida

Material Information

Lawns in Florida
Series Title:
Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Enlow, C. R ( Charles Ranger ), b. 1893
Stokes, W. E ( William Eugene ), 1889-1948
Place of Publication:
Gainesville Fla
University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
20 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Lawns -- Florida ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
Cover title.
Statement of Responsibility:
by C.R. Enlow and W.E. Stokes.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
027172520 ( ALEPH )
18173327 ( OCLC )
AEN4067 ( NOTIS )

Full Text

Bulletin 209 December, 1929

Wilmon Newell, Director


Associate Agronomist, Forage Crops Ofice, U. S. D. A.,
Agronomist, Florida Experiment Station

Fig. 1. A lawn of centipede grass. This lawn is on deep Norfolk sand at
Lake Wales, and is two years old.

Bulletins will be sent free upon application to the
Agricultural Experiment Station,


P. K. YONGE, Chairman, Pensacola
A. H. BLENDING, Leesburg
W. B. DAVIS, Perry

FRANK J. WIDEMAN, West Palm Beach
J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Tallahassee
J. G. KELLUM, Auditor, Tallahassee


JOHN J. TIGERT, M.A., LL.D., President
WILMON NEWELL, D. Sc., Director
S. T. FLEMING, A.B., Asst. Director
R. M. FULGHUM, B.S.A., Asst. Editor

K. H. GRAHAM, Business Manager


W. E. STOKES, M.S., Agronomist
W. A. LEUKEL, Ph.D., Associate
G. E. RITCHEY, M.S.A., Assistant*
FRED H. HULL, M.S.A., Assistant
J. D. WARNER, M.S., Assistant

A. L. SHEALY. D.V.M... Veterinarian in
E. F. THOMAS, D.V.M., Asst. Veterinarian
R. B. BECKER, Ph.D., Associate in Dairy
W. M. NEAL, Ph.D., Assistant in Animal
C. R. DAWSON, B.S.A., Assistant Dairy

R. W. RUPRECHT, Ph.D., Chemist
R. M. BARNETTE, Ph.D., Associate
C. E. BELL, M.S., Assistant
H. L. MARSHALL, M.S., Assistant
J. M. COLEMAN, B.S., Assistant
J. B. HESTER, B.S., Assistant

W. A. CARVER, Ph.D., Assistant
E. F. GROSSMAN, M.A., Assistant*"
RAYMOND CROWN, B.S.A., Field Assistant

C. V. NOBLE, Ph.D., Agricultural Economist
BRUCE McKINLEY, A.B., B.S.A., Associate
M. A. BROOKER, M.S.A., Assistant**
JOHN L. WANN, B.S.A., Assistant
L. W. GADDUM, Ph.D., Assistant
C. F. AHMANN, Ph.D., Assistant
J. R. WATSON, A.M., Entomologist
A. N. TISSOT, M.S., Assistant
H. E. BRATLEY, M.S.A., Assistant'*

A. F. CAMP, Ph.D., Horticulturist'"
M. R. ENSIGN, M.S., Assistant
HAROLD MOWRY, B.S.A., Assistant**
G. H. BLACKMON, M.S.A., Pecan Culturist**
W. B. TISDALE, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
G. F. WEBER, Ph.D., Associate
A. H. EDDINS, Ph.D., Assistant
W. B. SHIPPY, Ph.D., Assistant
K. W. LOUCKS, M.S., Assistant
ERDMAN WEST, B.S., Mycologist**


R. R. KINCAID, M.S., Assistant Plant Pathologist (Quincy)
JESSE REEVES, Foreman, Tobacco Experiment Station (Quincy)
J. H. JEFFERIES, Superintendent, Citrus Experiment Station (Lake Alfred)
W. A. KUNTZ, A.M., Assistant Plant Pathologist (Lake Alfred)
B. R. FUDGE, Ph.D., Assistant Chemist (Lake Alfred)
GEO. E. TEDDER, Foreman, Everglades Experiment Station (Belle Glade)
R. V. ALLISON, Ph.D., Soils Specialist in charge Everglades Experiment Station (Belle Glade)
L. O. GRATZ, Ph.D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Hastings)
A. N. BROOKS, Ph.D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Plant City)
A. S. RHOADS, Ph.D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Cocoa)
STACY O. HAWKINS, M.A., Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Homestead)
D. G. A. KELBERT, Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Bradenton)
R. E. NOLEN, M.S.A., Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Monticello)
FRED W. WALKER, Assistant Entomologist (Monticello)**
D. A. SANDERS, D.V.M., Associate Veterinarian (West Palm Beach)
M. N. WALKER, Ph.D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Leesburg)

*In cooperation with U. S. Department of Agriculture.
^*On leave of absence.


INTRODUCTION ........ ............ ................. 5

GRASSES TO USE ................................................. 6
St. A ugustine ............................................ 6
Bermuda ............................................ 9
St. Lucie ................................... ............. 10
Centipede ................................... ........... 10
Carpet .............. .............................. 1

PREPARATION OF SEEDBED ................... ....................... 12
Sowing the seed .............................................. 13
Establishing the grass ................. ................... .. 13
Renovating old lawns .................. ...................... 15

CARE OF THE LAWN ................... ............................. 15
Mowing ............. ...................................... 15
W watering ........................................... 16
Fertilizing ................................................ 16
Top-dressing .................... ................ ........... 17

W INTER GRASSES ...................... ..... ........... 17
Seeding .......................................... ........... 18
Fertilizing ................................... ............ 18
W watering ................................................ 18
Mowing ........................................... 18

THE CHINCH BUG ON ST. AUGUSTINE LAWNS ........................ 18

There are several good lawn grasses that can be used in Flori-
da. St. Augustine grass, for either shade or sunlight, requires
abundant moisture and plant food; Bermuda grass prefers heavy
soils with an ample moisture supply; St. Lucie grass, very simi-
lar to Bermuda, but slightly better for maintaining a dense sod;
centipede grass, is best for dry soils; and carpet grass for the low
moist lands of the state.
Carpet grass and Bermuda can be started from seed but
require two to three weeks for germination. All the other
grasses must be propagated vegetatively, and a carpet or Ber-
muda lawn may be established more quickly by propagating
vegetatively instead of seeding.
Old lawns can be renovated more cheaply and in much less time
by proper top-dressing and fertilizing than by digging them up
and reseeding or resetting the grass.
Frequent mowing is essential to keep a lawn in good condition.
A thorough watering two or three times a week is better than
a light watering daily.
Nitrogen is the important fertilizer element for Florida lawns
and it should be applied as often as necessary to keep the grass
dark green and vigorous. Frequent light applications of fertilizer
are much better than heavy applications once or twice each year.
Top-dressing of lawns is important, and soil may be applied
each fall in seeding winter grasses on top of the regular lawn
grass. Italian rye grass is the best winter grass for general use,
although Kentucky bluegrass and red top are sometimes used. If
kept mowed, these grasses die out at the approach of hot weather
and the permanent lawn grass becomes vigorous with no injury
to the latter. By using rye grass a green lawn may be enjoyed
the entire year.


A lawn is ground covered with fine, closely mown grass. It
provides a proper setting for the home, adds to its beauty, in-
creases its value and affords a clean, safe place for the children
to play. Many housewives have the idea that they must keep the
yard bare and give it a vigorous sweeping every Saturday morn-
ing. A good lawn is more attractive and less dusty.

Fig. 2.-A watering system in operation on a St. Augustine grass lawn. This
system is arranged so that all of the lawn or only a small portion may
be watered at one time-a convenient arrangement in case of low water

Beautiful lawns can be found in every section of Florida, but
they are in the minority. The fact that beautiful lawns do exist
in all of the towns and cities and in the rural districts proves
conclusively that it is possible to have such lawns.
It is the purpose of this bulletin to make available to those who
are interested in lawn improvement information on this subject
gathered at the Florida Experiment Station and at other points
in the state.
*Mr. Enlow was formerly assistant agronomist, Florida Experiment
Station; at that time he was also associate agronomist, Forage Crops Office,
U. S. D. A., which position he still holds, being now located at Washington,
D. C.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


There is considerable choice of grasses to use for lawns in
Florida, as there are grasses adapted to practically all soils in the
state. The principal lawn grasses are discussed separately in the
following pages. They are: St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum
secundatum Walt.), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon (L.)
Kuntze), carpet grass (Axonopus compressus (Siv.) Beauv.),
centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack.), St.
Lucie grass (Cynodon dactylon var. St. Lucie (L.) Kuntze).

St. Augustine grass is the most common lawn grass in Florida.
It is a coarse but tender grass, rank-growing and vigorous when
well fertilized and watered. If the grass is not mowed, the leaves
often attain a foot in length and one-half inch across. St. Augus-
tine forms very few seed in Florida, although it does form
rather flattened seed spikes from 6 to 8 inches in length. The
grass spreads by surface runners, and forms a dense turf under
optimum conditions.

Fig. 3.-St. Augustine grass seed
head and stolon.

Fig. 4.-Carpet grass seed heads
and stolons.

Bulletin 209, Lawns in Florida

Fig. 5.-St. Augustine grass growing in shade. If given plenty of water
and nitrogen, St. Augustine grass will flourish in continual shade. With
the trees continually drawing on the food and moisture supply it is
necessary to fertilize and water very frequently under such conditions.

Fig. 6.-Bermuda grass in a park. A dense sod of Bermuda grass makes the
most attractive lawn of any of our lawn grasses. However, Bermuda
requires a heavy soil, plenty of moisture, fertilizer and continual weed-
ing to keep free of weeds. Other grasses are coming in the Bermuda sod
shown in the picture above.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

St. Augustine grass grows equally well in shade and sunlight,
but must at all times have plenty of moisture and plant food in
order to be attractive. It is more resistant to cold than any of
the other lawn grasses discussed, oftenremaining greenthrough-
out winter. It is adapted to practically all soil types provided
plenty of moisture is present. It also must be kept fertilized in
order to maintain the desired dark green color.

Fig. 7.-Bermuda grass seed head, stolons and rhizome or underground

The chief weakness of St. Augustine grass it its susceptibility
to chinch bug1 attack during dry spells in the summer. It is the
only lawn grass injured by the chinch bug. Control measures for
this pest are given in the back of this bulletin.

S(Blissus lencopterous Say.)

Bulletin 209, Lawns in Florida 9

Where conditions are ideal for Bermuda grass, it makes a very
attractive lawn, comparable to the Kentucky bluegrass lawns
farther north. It prefers loam or clay loam soil and grows well
on sand or muck but requires an ample moisture supply or a
heavy subsoil which will retain moisture. It is practically use-
less to try to establish and maintain an attractive Bermuda lawn
on other than heavy soil unless the lighter soil has a clay or marl
Bermuda, if allowed to form seed heads, will grow to a height
of six to twelve inches. The leaves are fine and if plenty of nitro-
gen and moisture are supplied it will make a very beautiful lawn.
However, it has a tendency to thin out and allow weeds to get
started. Apparently, Bermuda needs an occasional cultivation
to keep it in vigorous growing condition. Spading up a Bermuda
lawn when it begins to thin out is a good practice.
Bermuda will not grow as well in the shade as St. Augustine.
It spreads by surface runners and also by underground root-
stalks. A lawn can be started by setting out the plants or sowing
seed, but the seed require from two to three weeks to germinate.

Fig. 8.-A lawn of centipede grass. Once established, centipede grass re-
quires the least attention of any of the lawn grasses. It will not thrive
in soil continually moist, but favors drier conditions. It is the best lawn
grass for high and dry soils in Florida.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

St. Lucie grass is a strain of Bermuda without underground
rootstocks, which makes it easy to eradicate, if desired. It also
has slightly coarser leaves than common Bermuda, and is a shade
lighter in color. It is adapted to the same soils as Bermuda, and
seems to maintain a more dense sod for a longer period of time.
Like Bermuda, it is practically free from disease except leaf
spotting which sometimes is quite prevalent, especially on lawns
of this grass along the East Coast of Florida.

Centipede grass has short leaves. It seldom grows more than
three or four inches high. It spreads by means of surface run-
ners and forms a very dense sod. The leaves are about inter-
mediate in fineness between Bermuda and St. Augustine, being
somewhat narrower and shorter than carpet. The seed spikes
resemble somewhat those of St. Augustine, and grow three to
four inches high. A fair quantity of seed is formed in the spikes
but so far no attempt has been made to save seed. The grass was
introduced from China in 1918.
Centipede is more nearly adapt-
ed to dry sandy soil than any of
the other grasses. While it be-
comes wilted and dry under
drouthy conditions, it recuperates
quickly and on high dry Norfolk
sand has crowded out all other
grasses, including Bermuda.
Centipede grass makes a very
attractive lawn with less atten-
tion than any of the other lawn
grasses. It requires less water
and mowing and, once estab-
lished, holds its stand indefinite-
ly. There are many beautiful
lawns of centipede grass growing
on high dry sand, as well as
heavier soils, scattered through-
Fig. 9.-Centipede grass seed out the state
heads and stolons. out the state.

Bulletin 209, Lawns in Florida

Carpet grass, like St. Augustine and centipede, spreads by
means of surface runners only. This grass is very common in the
southeastern states and is one of the most desirable pasture
grasses for the lower or more moist lands of Florida.
Under optimum conditions, carpet grass grows to a height of
six inches, with seed stems eight to ten inches or more in height.
The seed stems are tall, with two or three branched panicles, and
usually are inclined rather than erect. This makes it difficult to
cut the lawn so that it will be absolutely free of them. The best
practice is to mow often enough during the time the grass is seed-
ing to prevent the seed stems from becoming very long. The grass
is particularly well adapted to moist soil, and, if plenty of plant
food and moisture are available, will grow readily on any soil
type. The grass is not well suited to drouthy conditions.
Carpet grass seed are available at a reasonable price, and
germination usually is high, but it requires from two to three
weeks for the seed to germinate. Vegetative planting can be
practiced with carpet grass.

Fig. 10.-Carpet grass lawn. On soils where moisture is always plentiful,
carpet grass abounds, and makes an excellent lawn. It is not suited to
extremely dry conditions unless the lawn can be watered frequently.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

In starting a lawn much trouble can be avoided later by
thorough preparation at the start. Problems of drainage and
watering in particular should be taken care of in advance of
It is advisable, wherever possible, to pipe the lawn for water-
ing. There are many good water distributors on the market, and
after the decision is made as to the type to use, the pipes may be
laid in trenches a foot or so in depth at such intervals that the
water from the distributors will cover the entire lawn at one
time. Such an arrangement gives much satisfaction in that the
entire lawn can be quickly and uniformly watered.
After the watering apparatus has been installed and the yard
carefully graded, the seedbed should be put in excellent condition
by being spaded or hoed and raked smooth. All clods should be
broken and the soil well pulverized, after which it should be well
watered in order to settle and become firm for seeding or setting
out the grass.
If the soil is extremely sandy or poor, it is advisable to improve
it by hauling in rich soil or manure. The ideal arrangement is to
have a rather impervious layer of clay a foot or two below the
surface to help retain moisture, and good rich soil for the surface
six inches. If such a condition exists or can be prepared, it should
be a simple matter to keep the lawn in perfect condition.
It is also advisable to broadcast 10 or 12 pounds of superphos-
phate, two or three pounds of muriate or sulphate of potash and
about two pounds of cottonseed meal or some other organic
nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn in advance of seeding or
setting the grass. This fertilizer should be well worked into the
soil. After the grass starts growth, applications of nitrogen, as
mentioned under fertilization, should be given.
The soil should be carefully leveled before the grass is seeded
or set, in order to have proper surface drainage. This is taken
care of naturally, provided the land has a slope. A general
practice is to provide a slight slope away from the house. De-
pressions should be filled so that water does not stand in pools
on the lawn.

Bulletin 209, Lawns in Florida

Bermuda and carpet grass seed can be purchased on the mar-
ket, but it is advisable to ascertain the purity and germination
of the seed before buying. If a lawn is to be seeded, good clean
seed free from weed seed and of high germination should be used.
It requires three weeks for seed of either of these grasses to ger-
minate, and then the young plants grow quite slowly at first so
that the presence of weed seed in the soil or in the seed sown
generally makes weeding necessary at first. After the grass plants
are well started it is not necessary to weed the lawn to any ex-
tent as the weeds can be controlled by frequent mowing.
Two or three pounds of good quality seed of Bermuda or carpet
is sufficient to seed 1,000 square feet of lawn. The seed can be
sown with a broadcast seeder or by hand. It is advisable to go
over the lawn twice in seeding, covering the entire lawn with one
half the total amount of seed to be used, then again with the
remaining seed, scattered at right angles to the first seeding.
That is, if scattered in a north-south direction the first time over,
the seed should be scattered in an east-west direction the second
time. This insures a good distribution of seed. Then the lawn
should be raked to cover the seed, after which it must be watered
and kept moist until the grass is up. Owing to the slow start
made by these grasses, it is advisable when planting material
can be secured to set out the grass.

The more common method of starting a lawn is by setting out
the plants or runners, as they start much quicker than seed and
when the grasses are started this way, weeds are less trouble-
some. To establish a lawn vegetatively prepare the seedbed as
described for seeding. Open small trenches about 10 or 12 inches
apart and place the plants or runners six inches apart in the
rows, covering with soil immediately to prevent drying out. It
is advisable to get the plants well into the soil, leaving only an
inch or two of the stem tips protruding. The lawn should then be
kept well watered until the plants are rooted firmly.
The vegetative planting material of the lawn grasses can be
secured from seed firms, nurseries and a few farmers. The
Agronomy Department of the Experiment Station keeps a list of
those having plant material and seed for sale, and will be glad to
inform anyone interested.

401 1


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Fig. 11.-Setting a centipede lawn in the grounds of the Mount Lake Corporation, Lake Wales.
(Courtesy Mr. D. K. Stabler.)

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Bulletin 209, Lawns in Florida

Two pounds of runners or what is called vegetative material
should set 100 square feet of lawn at the rate given above,
provided the runners are broken into pieces from five to six inch-
es long. Care should be taken not to set these runners upside
down in the soil, which is a common but careless mistake.

There are many lawns with a fair stand of grass but so com-
pletely neglected that they appear unsightly. Many times these
lawns are spaded up and started over, which is a mistake, as
they can be reclaimed much more quickly than if they are started
over. The only excuse for digging up a lawn is in case a water
system is to be installed, the yard is poorly leveled, or it is desired
to change grasses.
A good top-dressing of muck, finely pulverized manure or rich
soil is the first step in improving an old lawn. The grass should
not be buried completely but the dressing should be at least one-
half inch thick. If the fertilizing program given in the following
pages is then carried out, and the lawn given plenty of water, it
should soon be looking much better and continue to improve. It
may be necessary to reset bare spots in the lawn with grass
plants, but this will be much less expense and trouble than re-
setting the entire lawn.

The lawn should be mowed once each week or 10 days, depend-
ing on the growth of the grass. It is not advisable to mow too
closely as it will remove too much leaf surface and weaken the
plants. The mower should be set to mow seven-eigths inch to one
inch from or above the surface runners. Never mow so close as
to bruise the surface runners.
Mowing encourages the horizontal growth or spread of lawn
grasses, and discourages weed growth. If the mower is used
regularly it will usually be unnecessary to weed the lawn, unless
it has just been started or to remove a very persistent weed. As
mentioned previously, weeding is necessary until the grass is
large enough to mow and some weeding may be necessary later,
depending on the kind of weeds present in the lawn.
Experiments by the Agronomy Department indicate that
newly set or seeded lawns can be made to cover the ground much

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

more quickly and satisfactorily if moving is commenced just as
soon as the grass has produced runners 10 to 15 inches in length.

Keeping lawns moist at all time is essential for best results in
The lawn should be watered thoroughly each time it is watered,
so that the soil will be moist to a considerable depth, as this
favors root development. If only a light watering is given
frequently during dry spells the roots near the surface are stimu-
lated, and when the watering is neglected for a few days the
grass suffers, owing to the shallow root system.
A thorough watering two or three times a week is much better
than a light watering daily. During the rainy season from June
to September, very little watering is necessary, but during the
fall, winter and spring, frequent watering is necessary to keep
the grass in good growing condition.
Watering of lawns can be done any time of day. There is less
loss from evaporation, however, if watering is done in the eve-
ning or at night.
If the clippings are left on the lawn when the grass is mowed,
and they should be, practically the only fertilizer that need be
applied is some form of nitrogen, as very little else is lost from
the soil under grass. One or two pounds of muriate or sulphate
of potash and four or five pounds of superphosphate per 1,000
square feet of lawn applied once each year should take care of
the requirements of the grass, but the nitrogen must be applied
more often.
Nitrogen is very important. It keeps the grass vigorous and is
also responsible for the dark green color that is so desirable. To
take care of the nitrogen requirement it is advisable to apply
some good nitrogen fertilizer at the rate of two or three pounds
per 1,000 square feet of lawn about once each month. Good results
have been obtained with sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of soda,
urea, leunasalpeter, cottonseed meal, castor meal, and activated
sludge, and fair results from several others. Cottonseed meal,
activated sludge and castor meal can be applied much heavier as
they do not contain as high percent nitrogen as the other fertiliz-
ers mentioned and act more slowly. Mixtures of one of the last
three named with one of the inorganics mentioned first give good

Bulletin 209, Lawuns in Florida

results. The inorganic acts quickly, the organic slowly. The
mixture thus lasts longer, making it unnecessary to fertilize
the lawn so often. For example, a mixture of 1/4 sulphate of am-
monia and %3/ cottonseed meal, applied at the rate of 10 pounds
per 1,000 square feet of lawn should last two months or so, as
indicated by the grass. When the dark green color begins to
disappear it is time to apply more nitrogen. A lawn should be
thoroughly watered immediately after being top-dressed with a
commercial fertilizer, to prevent burning the grass.
If grass begins to look pale green in color this is almost invari-
ably a sign that nitrogen is needed. If the water and nitrogen
requirements are satisfied, most lawn troubles are solved.

Along with the fertilizer program the lawn should be top-
dressed, that is, covered, with 1/4 to /2 inch of good heavy soil,
muck or manure about once each year. This covers the surface
runners and stimulates growth by adding considerable plant
Many times bare or brown spots caused by washing away of
the soil because of too abrupt a slope or improper watering, such
as a dashing stream from a hose nozzle, can be made to grow
grass quickly by judicious top soiling.
Uneven places in lawns can be gradually leveled up by frequent
top-dressing, thus doing away with the scarifying or crowning
of grass on uneven places on the lawn with the mower blade and
its resultant bad effect on the growth of the grass.

A common practice in Florida is to seed Italian rye grass,
Kentucky bluegrass, red top, or mixtures of the three on the lawn
during November in order to have a green lawn all winter. Pos-
sibly the best grass for this purpose is Italian rye grass, as the
seed of this grass germinate quickly and are more reasonable in
price than seed of Kentucky bluegrass or red top. Kentucky
bluegrass requires from two to three weeks for germination, but
the grass makes an attractive winter lawn after it has started.
Red top is very subject to a disease known as brown patch, which
kills the grass in patches and makes it unsightly.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Sow broadcast, on top of the summer grass, according to in-
structions under seeding, four or five pounds of Italian rye grass
seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. This is an excellent time to
apply the yearly top-dressing of 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil, as this will
assist in getting a good stand. The soil should be kept moist
until the seed have germinated, then watered as needed to keep
the grass in good growing condition. It is advisable to wait until
the grass is two inches high before mowing the first time. After
that the lawn can be cared for exactly as the summer lawn is
handled. This applies to mowing, fertilizing and watering.
If desired, Kentucky bluegrass or red top may be used instead
of Italian rye grass. Kentucky bluegrass should be seeded at the
rate of from two to three pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn,
but red top has such small seed that one to two pounds of seed
per 1,000 square feet is sufficient.
Proper precautions should be taken to secure grass seed free
from weeds and of high germination. A good plan is always to
purchase from reliable seedsmen who are anxious to sell good
seed in order to sustain their reputations.
The winter grasses mentioned die out as hot weather of late
spring and summer approaches and the permanent lawn grasses
will not be injured by the winter grasses if the lawn has been
mowed properly. If not mowed, or if mowed infrequently, the
winter grasses will make a tall rank growth and sometimes
interfere with and actually kill out in spots the permanent lawn
grass. This is especially true of Bermuda grass.

This notorious insect, which does so much damage to wheat
and corn fields in the North, is, in Florida, a severe pest of St.
Augustine grass. The insect, especially in its immature stages,
implants itself under the laterals of the close-fitting leaves, and
in its feeding imparts a reddish stain to the plants attacked, and
causes the death of the cells. The grass on an infested lawn turns
brown in patches and if it is not promptly treated may die out
completely. Around the dead brown spots will be a circle of
grass which has turned yellow. It is in this circle rather than in
the dead center that the bugs are working.

Bulletin 209, Lawns in Florida

The full grown insect is about one fifth of an inch long. The
body is black with whitish wings, each having a black spot in the
center. The young are without wings and are reddish in color.
An easy way to distinguish the chinch bug is by its disagreeable
"buggy" odor.
Like all true bugs the insect does its damage by sucking the
juices from the plant and therefore cannot be killed by stomach
poisons, but only by contact insecticides.

One of the most satisfactory dusts is finely ground tobacco,
such as Snuff No. 2, analyzing about 2 percent nicotine. This has
given good kills, is cheap (retailing at about 4 cents per pound),
is perfectly safe (no danger of burning the grass), is harmless to
handle, is easily applied and is valuable as a fertilizer. It should
be applied on a dry sunshiny day and it is better not to sprinkle
the lawn for several days after application. Twenty-five pounds
per 1,000 square feet gives good control but heavier doses do no
More coarsely ground tobacco with lower nicotine content is
cheaper and often gives satisfactory control if applied in the early
stages of the infestation. If this is mixed with an equal weight
of hydrated lime the action will be hastened.
A 3 percent nicotine sulphate-lime dust, when used at the rate
of at least 7 pounds per 1,000 square feet, is also a good insecti-
cide. This can be purchased already made at a cost of around 20
cents per pound, or can be made at home, at a substantial saving,
by thoroughly mixing three and three-fourths pounds of 40 per-
cent nicotine sulphate with 50 pounds of hydrated lime. (For
illustration of a home-made mixer see Bul. 183, Fla. Ag. Expt.
Sta.) A cheaper dust can be made by using 50 percent free
nicotine. A 2 percent dust (two pounds of 50 percent free nico-
tine in 50 pounds of lime) gives good control.
Calcium cyanide is one of the strongest contact insecticides
known but must be handled carefully or the grass will be burned.
It should be applied only when the grass is thoroughly dry. After
it is applied the lawn should be left dry for several hours or the
sprinkler should be kept running continuously all night to keep
the gas washed down. The cyanide must be applied very evenly to
the grass and it is best to take an old broom and sweep the grass

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

immediately after application. This brushes most of the cyanide
off of the green leaves down in to the mat of dead leaves and
stems near the ground. This serves a double purpose of prevent-
ing burning of the green leaves and getting the cyanide down
where the bugs are.
Cyanide is a violent poison and must be handled with great
care. One working with it should keep to the windward of the
dust. Careful precautions must be taken to keep it out of the
mouth and the fumes it gives off must not be breathed. No one
should linger about a lawn while the least odor of the material
can be detected. Cans containing the material should be opened
only where there is good ventilation. It should never be used
near sleeping quarters.
This dust, when washed down as directed above, will also kill
other lawn pests such as moles, and mole-crickets.

The lawn may also be treated with a solution of nicotine sul-
phate, using for this purpose one pint of nicotine sulphate to 100
gallons of water. To make the material spread better it is best
to put into the water five or six pounds of whale oil or laundry
soap or a pound of calcium caseinate.
There have recently been perfected certain oils which act as
activatorss" of nicotine sulphate. By using from 1/. to 1 percent
of these oils the amount of the nicotine sulphate required to kill
can be cut down a half or even a fourth of the amount usually
required. This will effect a great saving, as nicotine sulphate is
Other good spray solutions are those made up of derris or
pyrethrum compounds. Some of these give a better kill than the
nicotine solutions.
An infested lawn should not be mowed too closely. It should be
kept well watered.