A great lawn involves more than magic. It’s a combination of cultivation, watering, mowing and feeding that culminates in a healthy lawn that lasts through the seasons. With a little know-how and discipline, you can turn yours into a green expanse and part of an outdoor space that will raise your property value and make your tenants the envy of the neighborhood.
Grass ranks among the top of the list for water-hungry plants and during the dry spells, it needs irrigation. But there’s a fine balance between too much or too little water. When you water less but more often, the water stays in the top of the soil’s surface and the grass plant roots have now need to go deeper where the water is.
Deep watering less often forces the roots down deep, where more nutrients exist and the soil is cooler, especially important during the summer. A young lawn will require more frequent, shallow watering, but once it’s established, back off the frequency put it on a normal schedule of between ½ to ¾ inches at a time.
Factors that influence the amount of water it needs include the soil type, temperatures, rainfall and whether it’s in shade or sun. An easy way to avoid the guesswork or the calculations is to use the recommends some local newspapers publish in lawn watering guides to make it simpler for locals to estimate their lawn watering needs.
Sure signs of thirst in a lawn include:
Blades that have a blue-grey appearance.
Blades that fold together.
Blades that don’t spring back after walking on them.
The two most common lawn types in Florida are St. Augustine and Zoysigrass. The former should be mowed to 3.5 to 4 inches and the latter to 1.5 to 2 inches. Mowing keeps the lawn looking neater, promotes healthier growth and prevents the plants from bolting to seed.
See also 4 Ways to Decrease Maintenance Costs
Turf requires a good deal of nitrogen to reach a rich, green and vibrant appearance. Before adding more to the soil, pick up a soil testing kit from the local garden center. Used correctly, the kit will tell you how your soil stacks up for nutrition. Try to match the fertilizer you use to its nutritional profile as closely as possible.
Too much fertilizer can harm the soil and burn the grass roots. It wastes money and can pollute the environment when you use a petroleum-based fertilize. A safer fertilizer is the time-released type that doesn’t release all its chemicals at once. In southern areas, it needs monthly fertilizing.
Lawn Care Tips for Northern Florida
In northern Florida, grass is dormant during the winter and doesn’t need fertilizing.
Don’t bag the grass clippings. As they collect around the base of the plants, they decompose and provide valuable mulch that retains soil moisture and eventually provides nutrients.
As tempting as it might be, avoid planting Bermuda grass. It’s a beautiful turf compatible with the climatic conditions in Northern Florida, but requires high maintenance to keep it so. It’s also difficult to control its spread, since it’s an aggressive spreader using tough rhizomes.
Even though the end result looks golf-course perfect, it’s most likely due to the care you give the lawn. It’s worth the trouble because nothing helps your home build and maintain value better than a strong exterior appearance with a thriving lawn.
If you know it's more trouble that you can handle, consider hiring someone to help on a regular basis. If it's a rental property that you want to keep up the curb appeal, consider hiring a property management company to take care of it for you.
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