Pinellas County Extension Service Fails at Problem Solving


By Rick Orr 01/25/2016


Home on a hill with south facing slope under water stress
Slopes, especially southern facing slopes require more water, more often

Looking at a Dead Clump of Grass is Not Good Research

Pinellas County Extension service good at providing research data and information but poor at diagnosing lawn problems. Why? The reasons for the failures are threefold: examining only small samples brought to them, lack of historical information about the lawn and departmental goals of reducing water used for irrigating lawns.

How the Extension Service Fails

If you randomly yanked a handful of turf out of your dead dying lawn and took it to the extension service for diagnosing, they will most likely give you a cause of death. Whatever they happen to find in that random patch of grass – chinch bugs, grubs, fungus, whatever – will be named as the causal agent. And they certainly are not going to tell you to water more to keep your lawn healthy.

A Real Case of Misdiagnosing

A new to this area homeowner installed a new lawn and irrigation system in January. The lawn was on a slope that faced due south and was scorched by the sun every day. The homeowner believed that watering 1x per week should be enough. The lawn failed within the first 6 months with most of the failure occurring during the hot dry spring. Then the rains came in the summer and the lawn did not recover. He grabbed a rain-soaked dead patch of turf and took it to the extension service to find out why his lawn died.

What the Extension Service Found

Without context or history about the lawn, the extension service determined the lawn died of root rot caused by overwatering. The homeowner tore out his entire lawn, applied expensive fungicide treatments and replaced the lawn with new sod. The total cost to cure the root rot and replace the lawn was over $5000.00. Convinced by the extension service that he overwatered his lawn, the homeowner will be even more faithful not to water more than 1x per week – if that!

Why Root Rot was a Misdiagnosis

Root rot didn’t kill the lawn – lack of water killed the lawn. Then once the rains started in the summer, the dead grass and roots started to rot. It’s called composting! Healthy turf - even overwatered turf – benefits from root rot recycling old roots that slough off. But to the extension service, it is what killed the lawn because that is what they found and cutting back the water is the solution.

Don’t Use the Extension Service for Diagnosing Lawn Problems

I have personally witnessed many horror stories just like this one. Misdiagnosed lawn problems costing the homeowner thousands of dollars to cure a problem that didn’t exist or could have been simply solved by more water. My best advice if you have a problem with your lawn don’t go to the extension service but ask several experts who provide professional turf care services for an honest opinion.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
APL Pest Control

Rick Orr is the creator of, Owner/Operator of APL Pest Control and a graduate from VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology).  

Since 1980, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts and large communities. Rick worked as a Golf Course Superintendent of Fripp Island Resort, agronomist for Seaside, FL and the spray tech for Vinoy Golf Course. Rick has been certified as an arborist, landscape and irrigation contractor and adjunct professor for Environmental Horticulture (SPC) in Pinellas County.  

Home Pest Control came naturally. Entomology (bug science) was part of agronomy studies. Nearly every indoor pest problem starts outdoors. Crossing over to home pest control from lawn spraying was a natural process – the technology, methods and materials used for home pest control are modifications of the ones used for lawn spraying. 

The results of that work is a one of the top rated pest control companies in Pinellas County – APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control is a family owned business serving residential and commercial properties in Pinellas County, FL. 

Free Price Quote for Home Pest Control and/or Lawn Spraying CLICK HERE

To learn more about APL Pest Control CLICK HERE

Speaking Engagements - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions, and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. To contact Rick you can find him on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram for booking information.