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.
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.
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.
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.
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.