Q. I have a number of weeds in my lawn and between my patio stones. I used a weed-and-feed product and almost burnt up my lawn. What do you advise? 

A. Reduce your irrigation schedule and raise the mower height to the highest setting. The reduced watering and higher mower setting will make the environment hostile to weeds. Your grass tells you when to water. If the leaves are flat, the grass does not need water. If the leaves assume a sharp "V" shape, they are in slight wilt and need water. If they roll up like a cigar, they are in severe wilt and need immediate attention. Use Roundup or Finale to kill weeds between your stepping stones. Follow label directions and do not apply on a windy day because these products kill anything green they touch. It's best to hire a professional service for weed killing. You can wipe the place out with chemicals that are applied incorrectly. Or do like I do. I don't fertilize my lawn because then I have to mow it more. If the grass is mowed regularly, the weeds blend in for the most part. 

Q. Is Zoysia grass tough against children and dogs? 

A. Zoysia is a tough turf. It tends to make a lumpy-looking lawn with a fine texture. 

Q. I have a great deal of trouble with my St. Augustine grass over the years. A neighbor has a good lawn of Bahia grass that seems trouble free. Do you have any comments? 

A. Bahia is more drought tolerant and doesn't like a lot of water. It does well in sun and has a finer texture that St. Augustine grass. But it does have some problems. It does not make as thick a turf as St. Augustine does, and it has poor shade tolerance, so use groundcovers in shady areas. Also, it tends to attract mole crickets. 

Q. My St. Augustine lawn has lost its deep green color although I fertilize in March, June and October with Lesco products. There seems to be a pocket of air between the runners and the turf. The grass is spongy to walk on. What do you recommend? 

A. Your lawn may need to be verticut to rejuvenate it. Some companies can perform this service where the runners are vertically cut and the lawn is improved. The lawn will look somewhat torn up after verticutting and take time to settle back in. Years ago some companies would sand lawns, filling in low areas with sand to remove air pockets. This process was best done in summer as the grass was growing more rapidly and would recover more quickly. Disease was commonly a problem with the sanding technique. Both techniques have some disadvantages but should be explored. 

Q.I heard that it is necessary to "top dress" your lawn here. What is that and how do you do it? Also what about rolling?

A. Top dressing lawns was popular some years ago, but is not a common practice now. The practice can increase fungal problems and introduce weed seeds. Sterilized soil is expensive. Sand is often used in top dressing, as it is relatively sterile. I would top dress only sunken, depressed areas of the lawn. The best time is early summer, June or July, when the grass is growing quickly and can recover fast from the treatment. Lawn rolling is more a northern procedure in lawn care. You seldom see it done here except on golf courses. 

Q. Can I plant rye grass

A. Rye grass seed is generally a waste of time as it is temporary. Bahia is the main grass grown from seed in south Florida. June or July are good months to establish Bahia. St. Augustine is the other popular type grass for south Florida. It is normally sodded or plugged into the desired area. Do not throw away money trying to grow grass in moderate to heavy shade. Grass is a sun lover and will thin out and die under shade conditions. 

Q. What can I do about sandspurs

A. Granular weed and feed products containing asulam will eliminate sandspurs, but need to be used with a great deal of caution. Weed and feed products have burned up many lawns and can kill trees and shrubs if over-applied, and not reading the label can cost you an entire landscape. The product cannot be applied if the temperature is over 85 degrees. The best months for application are from mid-February to early April or late October to early December. You might try spot treatments with Roundup or Kleenup but their use requires extreme caution. See the next question. 

Q. How can I get rid of nutsedge?

A. Nutsedge is extremely hard to get rid of. The best current control is to use Roundup or Kleenup to try to kill it. These herbicides are systemic and kill the root system. They do not poison the soil as some other products can. They must be used with great caution, as everything green they touch will be killed. You may have to redo a section of your lawn after using these products unless you have excellent aim. The best time to use them is in the early morning or late afternoon when the wind is relatively calm to avoid spray drifting onto desirable plants. Allow two to three weeks for the weeds to brown out and die. Nutsedge is very persistent so you may have to re-spray if it re-sprouts. Wait until it definitely is dead before re-sodding. Definitely follow label directions exactly. 

Q. I have a lot of shade in my yard. Can I plant `Floratam' grass? 

A. `Seville' or `Bitter Blue' St. Augustine grass is much more shade tolerant than `Floratam'. 

Q. We have a lawn with a crabgrass type lawn. We have lots of shade and the grass grows poorly and looks like straw. What grass should I replace it with 

A. No grass will grow in complete shade. Your grass is the St. Augustine type. Mulch the areas you want to walk on and invest in a ground cover like sword fern that will cover bare soil areas and eliminate the barren look. Space ferns about 1 foot apart in a staggered pattern for good coverage. 

Q. I was away from my home for 18 months and the weeds have taken over. The worst is puncture vine. What do you recommend I do for control? 

A. Puncture vine would be a good groundcover if it didn't have spiny seedheads. It has bright yellow buttercup-like flowers and will even grow at the beach. Use Roundup herbicide and spray affected areas. Spray before 10 a.m. and make sure the spray does not drift. After spraying, let Roundup work for about three weeks to kill the weeds. Then plant new sod. Palmetto is the best new St. Augustine variety that does not need much watering or mowing. It is also resistant to chinch bugs. 

Q. My lawn has a patch of  mushrooms in it. What can I do to get rid of them? 

A. Mushrooms in a lawn are common in the wet season. They are symptomatic of a decaying root system below ground. There probably was a tree in the area that was cut down and a fungus is returning the root system to an organic state, which is perfectly normal. The mushrooms are above-ground fruiting bodies of the fungus. You can spray copper fungicide, which will offer some control. 

Q.  I have a strange red mushroom in my lawn with holes in it.  The mushroom draws flies and stinks.  Will it hurt my lawn?

A.  The red mushroom is known as a stinkhorn and will not hurt the lawn.  They look something like the edible morel mushroom except for the color and smell. They usually appear near the end of the rainy season and only last for a day or so.  Copper fungicide sprayed on them should reduce the populations.  I would not eat one but they are not considered poisonous. 

Q.What is the best way to eliminate dollarweed?

A. Dollarweed indicates excess watering. Water no more than twice a week, only in the morning. Put some pans on the lawn to see how much water your heads are putting out. One inch per week should be sufficient. Keep the mower at its highest setting so that the grass will shade out weeds. 

Q.We have a lot of Crabgrass and Creeping Charlie in our lawn.  My husband  has spent hours on his hands and knees pulling and digging as nothing we  apply seems to do the trick.  We just resodded half of our back yard to  get rid of some of it.  This is an expensive way to go though! 

A.I would try Image to control these weeds.  I suspect that dollarweed is what you are calling creeping charlie.  Crabgrass and St. Augustine grass are also similiar.  Crabgrass is a clump and St. Augustine spreads by runners and is our main grass.  Follow label directions exactly for weed control.  Apply when it is cool in early morning.