Sunday, April 22, 2018
Home and Garden

Dr. Hort: Annoying oak sprouts and snail troubles

Fungus, not snails, may be the problem

Q: I am beside myself with these white (sometimes brown) snails. There are hundreds of them with small to medium porous rock. I started to spray with Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer. I did it every week for three weeks, and the grass started to come back. Now it's starting again. No one can tell me how to get rid of these; they claim I am near the water. I live over 3 miles away and have been in this house for 12 years and never had this problem. Do you have any idea on how I can rid of them? I would appreciate an answer. Hope the photos are clear enough.

Elaine Catterson, Port Richey

A: Vegetarian land snails eat the leaves of many landscape plants, but the tiny discoidal snail shells that you have pictured look dead, and research doesn't describe any snail that would chew grass blades to the point of killing large patches of turf as you have pictured. View the fact sheet on land snails in Florida for complete information at

I believe there is a larger problem such as "take-all root rot" of St. Augustine, which is a fungus disease that kills turf grass in large patches. The closeup pictures that you sent show purple nutsedge as the primary greenery, not St. Augustine grass. Nutsedges along with fungus diseases commonly get a stronghold with overirrigation. Could this be a possibility?

How to deal with annoying oak sprouts

Q: I have a nice front yard with a big oak tree there. My problem is some of the roots are close to the yard and I get baby oak sprouts. They really look bad and you don't want to walk in the yard barefoot. Is there anything I can do to keep them to a minimum?

Robert King, Clearwater

A: For some unknown reason, some oaks will send up a mini-forest of root suckers, and there are only a couple of choices in dealing with the situation.

First is to weed-whack the sprouts, add a little fill just to cover the roots, sod over the area and keep it mowed if there is enough sun to support turf.

Second is to plant Asian jasmine, Trachelospermum asiaticum, of which there are many varieties, and let it blend in with the sprouts, for it will take a bit of shade. Either way, the sprouts are there to stay.