Attention required to grow great lawn
RODOLFO ROMANLawns beautify a residence. However, two homes could be next to each other with one attractive and the other unpleasant.
Published: June 19, 2012
Published: June 19, 2012
The question of why is a common one in South Florida neighborhoods. The reason for this could be several issues, said home gardening adviser John McLaughlin.
Some of the causes: "the type of turf grass; using too little or too much water; lack of or incorrect fertilizer applications; incorrect mowing height; misuse of herbicides to control weeds," he wrote in an email.
There are several steps homeowners can take to avoid having their lawns look like a nightmare and provide proper maintenance, especially during the summer season, which brings lots of rain.
First, there are several types of yard grass, with St. Augustine turf leading the way, especially in South Florida.
However, zoysia grass is slowly increasing, while centipede grass is used in the Panhandle.
As for watering the grass, an irrigation system is useful, McLaughlin wrote.
"The irrigation system should be re-set, turning it off and using supplemental water as needed when grass is just starting to wilt. The blades will start to curl up around the mid-rib," he wrote.
Water should be provided to grass during the hot summer weather if there is no measurable rainfall. If there is no rain for more than three days irrigate with three-quarter of an inch of water early morning before sunrise, he added.
Avoid applying fertilizer and herbicides, because it could damage grass once temperatures are over 85 degrees, so be cautious.
If the system is left turned on, make sure to install a sensor to prevent it from running when it is raining.
During the summer season, there is disease that could affect grass, but make sure the disease is diagnosed by an expert. Read the label to see if the product you use to fight it is suitable for your type of turf.
"In summer two diseases are of note on St. Augustine grass, gray leaf spot and take all root — consult your local extension office for information on prevention/management of these and other disease/pest issues of turf grass," McLaughlin wrote. "Turf that has been stressed through drought during spring and/or lack of fertilizer is more susceptible to certain pests and disease, however, too much fertilizer nitrogen needs to be avoided, as this too can make turf prone to pests such as chinch bugs and diseases such as gray leaf spot."
The amount of rain received during the season causes grass to grow rapidly, but when mowing it make sure not to allow the blades to grow too much and remove one third of it.
Aside from this, adequate soil moisture and sun exposure is critical for grass growth. Also, balanced turf fertilizer, potassium and trace elements such as iron, manganese and zinc should be fed to grass.
Most Florida soils have sufficient phosphorus and state rules affecting the labeling of turf fertilizers have limited the amount of phosphorus to 0 to 2 percent, according to McLaughlin. "These restrictions are an effort to control run-off into rivers, lakes and canals," he wrote. "There may also be county restrictions on the use of turf fertilizers — contact your county extension office for local information."
Proper grass care and keeping a close eye on it should save your lawn from being the ugliest on the block.