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>How To Increase The Value of Your Home By Greening Up Your Lawns

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Maintain a Bright Green Lawn

We’re coming out of a particularly cold and snowy winter all across the country. Even in Florida, where you would always expect mild weather, the lawns are brown from frost and the winter has nipped many plants, trees and shrubs. Florida has had two dozen freezing or near-freezing nights the past year.

As soon as the weather moderates, which it has done in Florida already (usually mid-February), it is time for pruning. Cut back the damaged limbs and prepare the plant for re-growth.

Brown lawns will generally come out of the frost-bitten look by themselves, but not unless you give your lawn a gentle nudge. This is done by serving up some pellet fertilizer high in both nitrogen and phosphorus. A 33-13-33 mixture of Lesco, for example, would be fine for right now. Hit it with water after you distribute the fertilizer. You can use a hand-held whirly-bird or a larger push cart spreader..

Some so-called experts suggest fertilizing only a couple times a year. That may be okay if your soil has a lot of clay, along with mulch and dark soil. But the soils in Florida are typically sandy. Everything you put on a lawn in Florida will pass through the soil in ten days. That’s why twice a year won’t work. It might work in Indiana or Minnesota where the soil is black, but not in sandy soil. I recommend you fertilize every 3 months. Some fertilizer companies hit it each two months, but of course they are selling a service.

The best time for big results is to fertilize during the spring, then again in the middle of June, before the really hot weather is upon us. If you wait until July and 95-degree temperatures, it may be too late and it could result in burning the grass rather than benefiting it by bringing out lush new green growth. Remember, always hit the grass with fertilizer, followed by water. In Florida, we don’t recommend more than three-fourths of an inch – otherwise you may wash away the nutrients.

Remember, blends are higher in nitrogen than other elements. Nitrogen is what stimulates vigorous growth and a deep green color.

Step2

Use a fertilizer spreader. Fertilize your lawn after mowing in addition to when the grass is dry. Fertilizer will stick to the blades of wet grass, burning the lawn in the process. Using a lawn spreader ensures equal distribution of the fertilizer across the lawn. Gauge the spreader at a low setting, and go over the area several times, ensuring each pass of the spreader overlaps the last.

Step3

Keep your lawn mower in top shape. Many folks in Florida use lawn services who regularly sharpen their blades. A dull blade will wind up tearing the blades of grass, giving it a more brown look, defeating your purpose. A well-maintained lawn mower reaps a crisp, fresh, evenly-cut lawn. Check the spark plug for erosion, make sure blades are sharpened and that the oil is regularly changed. A lawn mower is an investment that requires upkeep.

Step4

Water the lawn often throughout the summer months. Early morning, very early, like 5 a.m. is best. This allows the lawn to dry before nightfall, when fungus is most active. It’s also usually a non-peak time for most towns’ water supplies. Water early just a few times each week. Deep soaking encourages deep root growth, compared to light watering, which encourages the roots to stay close to the surface of the soil. Your lawn is then more susceptible to heat and drought. In Orange County, Florida, inspectors will come out to make sure you water only at allowed times. In our area that is twice a week – Sunday and Thursday – but only but only between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m.. You can also water that same day again from 4 p.m. to 12 p.m. If you have a large property with more than eight or ten automatic watering stations, it may be necessary to set the timer on 40 to 60 minutes at each station. Our neighbor has 16 stations, so he is watering on both sides of the cycle, as are we. Orange County is no different than most counties in America. Water shortages are abundant. There is a $500 fine for watering on the wrong day or outside your scheduled time.

Step5

Repair brown spots caused by pets. Many pet owners face the challenge of brown spots on their lawns. Just like over-fertilizing, high nitrogen content is found in pet urine, which causes the urine to burn the grass. Watering the lawn well within eight hours of excretion can dilute the high nitrogen level. If the spots go untreated, you’ll need to purchase a grass repair kits. These are sold commercially at your favorite nursery or places like Lowes or Home Depot. We often solve the problem by buying several pieces of lawn or just a few pieces of lawn plugs. Another neighbor actually seeds new grass in during June through September, during the rainy Florida season in Central Florida. That works, too.

If you pay good attention to your lawn all year, repairing where the moles or other rodents have carved out holes, then you, too, will grow a bright green and prosperous lawn which will, become an eye-stopper for people looking to purchase your home. Curb appeal starts with the lawn, trees, and shrubs.

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>Controlling Lawn Disease

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Properly identifying and controlling diseases in your lawn can be one of the more challenging aspects of lawn care. Left alone, diseases like brown patch or dollar spot can quickly turn a beautiful lawn into a splotchy mess, or worse. Even trained experts can have trouble identifying a lawn disease. Without correct identification, a disease will likely be difficult to control.

But if you take a thoughtful approach, know when to ask for a little help, and get familiar with the conditions under which common lawn diseases thrive, you can beat them. Here are the simple steps to controlling common lawn diseases.

Identify the disease. This seems obvious but it is often not as simple as it sounds. Some lawn diseases, such as rust, are pretty easy to identify. But others look similar and may take a trained eye to properly identify. You can, however, do a little homework and narrow the possibilities.

Almost all lawn diseases are caused by fungi. Each type of fungus thrives under specific conditions, usually a combination of heat, humidity, light and moisture, and may occur only at a specific time of year or in a certain region of the country. Some diseases only attack specific types of grasses. Others thrive when the lawn is not being properly cared for, whether it’s getting too much or too little water or fertilizer, isn’t being mowed at the proper height, or has developed a thick layer of thatch.

If you get to know a little about what different lawn diseases look like and the conditions under which they thrive, you can often identify them or at least narrow the choices. Visit a good lawn and garden shop. Take them a digital photo of the problem and they’ll help identify the solution. If you still can’t positively identify which disease is infecting your lawn, take a sample of the turf to your local nursery or cooperative extension office. A 1- to 2-foot piece of sod, taken from the edge of the diseased area, is usually best. (Ideally, half the sample should be healthy grass; the other half should show symptoms of the problem.) Write down the type of grass you have, how old it is, how you care for it and the specific symptoms you have seen and when. If necessary, some state cooperative extension offices will send the sample out for lab testing.

Adjust lawn care practices. Once a disease is properly identified, you can often adjust how you care for your lawn and create conditions that are less favorable for the disease and more favorable for healthy growth of your grass. For example, heavy thatch encourages the development of many diseases, including brown patch and dollar spot. Aerating or dethatching helps reduce the problem. Over fertilizing and improper watering also encourage disease. Care for your lawn properly and many diseases won’t be serious problems.

Overseed with resistant varieties. If a lawn disease becomes a persistent problem, you may want to switch to a different type or variety of grass. Turf breeders have developed many new varieties that resist common diseases. Your cooperative extension office or local nursery can give you specific variety names.

Use a fungicide. Get the upper hand on the most common lawn diseases by using products like Bayer Advanced™ Fungus Control for Lawns Granules. Bayer Advanced Lawn Fungus Control will cure most diseases and provide up to 2 months of protection against further infection.