Follow these tips to keep your lawn thriving this month: be strategic in treating yellow grass, since most Florida counties implement fertilizer bans; check for common summer pests and treat them appropriately; avoid weedkiller; and keep your mower blades sharp!
Last week’s blog discussed watering tips for your June landscape, but we know that there’s more to landscaping care than irrigation! So, let’s take a look at other tasks that may determine whether your lawn and landscape flourish or limp through the summer.
If you missed your spring fertilization or your grass is beginning to yellow, you now must be very strategic in your approach to care.
From June through September, many counties in Florida have fertilizer ordinances in an effort to curb runoff during the rainy season that contributes to algae blooms. This algae growth kills seagrass that marine animals depend on and can contain harmful toxins that trigger illness and disease in humans.
Specifically, the use of nitrogen and phosphorus is prohibited in many places. If you choose to fertilize, use a fertilizer with a label like “0-0-16,” which communicates that it contains no nitrogen or phosphorus, only potassium. Always check your county’s ordinances or speak with your lawn care provider to determine what you can use and what you should avoid.
Supplement with Iron
During the rainy season and the fertilizer ban, iron-only applications may be the answer to some turfgrass issues. Yellowing grass is not unusual as your lawn uses up previous fertilizer treatments, but you can supplement with an iron-only application to green up the yard through the summer.
One alternative to fertilizing is to mow with a mulching mower, leaving the grass clippings to provide a natural nitrogen source. If you choose this method, make sure to do so frequently so that the clippings don’t smother the grass. And always remove any clippings from driveways, sidewalks, or streets to keep them from contributing to runoff.
Certain pests become more prominent this month, like mole crickets, chinch bugs, and lawn caterpillars.
Mole crickets are common in Bahia and Bermuda grasses. If the ground under the grass feels soft, this is a sign of their presence. Apply a soap flush to bring them to the surface, and if two or more appear, apply a mole cricket bait or liquid control.
A sign of chinch bugs is yellowing patches of grass, especially St. Augustine grass, in sunny areas of the lawn. Treat the affected area with a chinch bug-specific insecticide.
Lawn caterpillars include the sod webworm, grass looper, and armyworm. Signs of these pests are short grass and chewed blades. Treat the problem spots with a natural control (containing Bacillus thuringiensis), if possible.
Using any weedkiller when the weather is this hot can damage your turfgrass. Mow, dig out, or pull weeds by hand to preserve your turf health.
Keep Your Tools Sharp
As always, keep those mower blades sharp! With increased mowing frequency during the summer, your mower blades are seeing much more use and will become dull quickly – especially if your lawn is Bahia or has sandy spots.
Dull blades will tear the grass instead of cutting it, requiring a longer recovery time and leaving it susceptible to disease. Not to mention that sharp blades will cut more efficiently and reduce your time spent out in the sun. Sharpen the blades once a month!