Central Floridians are known for taking great pride in their lawns. Not only does beautiful grass make them the envy of the neighborhood, but healthy turf is a great way of retaining their home’s value and even helping it become higher than the average.
Keeping an emerald green lawn that is free of disease and insects involves proper feeding and maintenance. Unfortunately, this is nearly a year-long investment due to Florida’s long growing season. However, if you are up for the task, the rewards are plentiful!
Grass is nature’s carpet. Follow the BMPs to keep yours flourishing!
Best Management Practices, or BMPs, are lawn-care techniques developed by the University of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. If followed correctly, they will guide you in getting the healthiest turfgrass possible while saving you time and money. BMPs also help protect water bodies by reducing nonpoint source pollution.
“Feed me, Seymore!” Feeding grass properly will make it lush and green without feeling like it’s eating into your wallet. The first step is to have your soil tested to discover exactly what nutrients your lawn is lacking. Trust in your county’s Extension office to assist with this. Regardless of what your soil is missing, fertilizers containing slow-release nitrogen is always a safe choice because they provide a long-lasting greenup without “burning” the grass. Avoid fertilizers containing phosphorous. Most Florida soils already have enough and don’t need more.
Timing is the crux of luscious carpet. Fertilize only during the growing season as Central Florida grasses go dormant in the winter. Once spring is in the air and all danger of frost has passed, apply your first fertilizer treatment, then do this again during the height of summer. Give your lawn the strength it needs to outlast the winter by giving it its last feeding in mid-October.
IMPORTANT: Be mindful of waterways! If your property butts up against a body of water, avoid applying fertilizer within ten feet of the bank to protect the water from getting polluted by runoff, which can lead to algal blooms that will harm wildlife. Additionally, use a deflector shield on your spreader to keep the fertilizer off sidewalks and concrete, so it doesn’t get washed into storm drains that will carry it into water bodies.
Just a little off the top, please. Mowing your grass properly is one of the best ways of keeping it healthy. Never “scalp” the grass, which means removing more than one third of the leaf blade. Doing so stresses the lawn and leaves it vulnerable to drought, disease, weeds, and destructive insects. Furthermore, be sure to keep your mower blades sharp because dull blades will tear the grass and cause it stress. Also, don’t bother cleaning up the grass clippings because they’ll return valuable nutrients to the lawn as they decay.
Goldilocks always had a beautiful lawn! Why? Because she knew to give her grass just the right amount of water. Over-watering is the main reason Florida lawns suffer damage because it causes the grass to have shallow roots thus reducing its ability to tolerate stress. In turn, quite the opposite is true. Watering less contributes to deep roots, which helps the grass survive drought-like conditions. Knowing when to water is key. If you notice folded blades and grass isn’t springing back after being walked on, it’s thirsty. However, keeping a regular irrigation schedule is the ideal way to keep grass happy and thriving. During the growing season, rain is plentiful, so irrigating just once or twice a week is more than adequate. During the winter months, reduce your watering schedule to every two to three weeks.
It’s good practice to monitor your irrigation system on a regular basis to make sure it’s turning on and shutting off in accordance with the settings. If you’re not sure your system is running like it should, call us or complete our request service form and we’ll happily take a look.
Enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn for years to come!
Caring for your Central Florida grass comes easy once you know what to do. Should you need more guidance, look to The Florida Lawn Handbook: Best Management Practices for Your Home Lawn by the University of Florida Press to get all your questions answered.