Question of the Week – Number 1: August 27, 2020

“What causes these runners to lift off my St. Augustine lawn? It makes it look tacky. What can I do about it?”

Beverly D. posted this photo to my Facebook page.

I get this question 10-15 times every summer and this year has been no exception. The only thing different is that they’re coming in now instead of 6 or 7 weeks ago.

I thought perhaps some university plant pathology department might have identified a minor pathogen that was attacking the roots of these runners that lay across the top of the lawn. They’re always black and stubby. However, after 20 minutes of searching I came up empty.

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Various sites blame these “loopers” on overly wet or overly dry soils, excessive fertilizer, highly compacted soils, thatch accumulations and a variety of other issues. There was absolutely no clear-cut conclusion.

The one thing on which everyone agreed: this is a very minor problem that merits absolutely no worry.

As a teenager mowing yards for $2–$3 a pop in College Station (that was a lot of years ago), I reached out with my right leg and popped up the loopers just before I reached them. The next pass over the lawn they got mowed right along with the rest of the grass and things looked great again. I’ve been doing that ever since.

To put it in other words: I’ve had St. Augustine for my lawns here in Texas for more than 50 years, and I’ve spent more time over those years answering this question than I have in dealing with the problem itself.

So now, I’m going to go worry about something else. Goodness knows we have plenty of other options!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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