April is an eventful month in the yard and garden. Insects are busily munching on their favorite plants. Winter annual flowers are still blooming but will soon need replacing. The grass is growing lush, which means you will need to mow more often than you did during winter. And it's historically our driest month.
Bahiagrass is a good drought-tolerant grass for this area and can survive our driest month easily. It may be a bit brown, but it doesn't die. Bahiagrass can be started from seed or sod, but it's best to wait for the rainy season to plant or rejuvenate this type of lawn. Seeding can be done until about mid September.
Keep a watchful eye out for chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass. Straw colored grass along sidewalks, driveways or the street is usually the first sign of this pest.
Rapid growth resulting from frequent applications of water soluble nitrogen fertilizers may increase Southern chinch bug survival, development time and the number of eggs that the insects can lay, according to a University of Florida publication. Using slow-release nitrogen fertilizers may help reduce pest population buildup.
Young chinch bugs are red and hidden in the grass sheaths. As they mature and become adults they are still pretty small, about a fifth-inch long. Their color changes to black and white and they develop wings.
Chinch bugs can kill large areas of St. Augustine lawns if allowed to feed freely.
Source: Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service.