Questions and Answers: Lawn Care
What type of grass will grow in the shady areas of my yard?
All of the turfgrasses that are grown in Florida require full sun except two
varieties of St. Augustine: Seville and Bitter Blue. Seville is more shade
tolerant than Bitter Blue, however, neither will take dense shade. There are
also some specific cultivars of Zoysia grass and Centipede grass which are
somewhat shade tolerant. In densely shady areas, planting a shade loving
ground cover instead of turfgrass is recommended. Check the web site below
for additional information. Link: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/LH005
Will pre-emergent herbicides control crabgrass in my lawn? If so,
when should I apply it? Pre-emergent herbicides are expensive but they
are usually effective. Applied in granular form they use soil moisture,
rainfall or irrigation to form a chemical barrier that will not harm any
existing plant but will not allow any seedling to penetrate. So it not only
stops crabgrass, an annual, heat loving weed, but also stops any other weed
seed from successful germination. Then with proper fertilization your
desirable grass quickly fills in those small bare spots that would have been
nothing but ugly weeds. Pre-emergent products are available in combination
with turf fertilizers to give your grass a boost, too. When to apply it?
When you see dandelions blooming that means the soil temperature is warming
up to the point where crabgrass can germinate, usually between late February
What's the best time to spray or apply a weed and feed product
for my existing weeds? For maximum efficiency the weeds should be in a
lush, actively growing state. Keep your eye on those dandelions again. When
they hit the puffball stage, when you can pick the flower heads and blow the
seeds away, that's the ideal time.
When should I reseed my Bahia lawn? I have had trouble
getting the seed to grow. The best time to seed is from April through June
since this permits a full growing season before cold weather and takes
advantage of the rainy season. Poor germination can be caused by a couple
factors: Germination of Bahia seed is often slow and erratic because of a
hard waxy seed coat, therefore, try to locate scarified seed (seed
mechanically treated to increase the germination rate). Bahia must also be
covered with soil and kept constantly moist to germinate.
How often should I water my grass? And when is the best time of
day to do this? It is nearly impossible to say how many times a week a
lawn should be watered since so many factors will influence this. Thus, it
is best to water on an as-needed basis or when the grass shows signs of
stress from a lack of water. Some of those signs are:
The grass color will be a bluish-gray rather than a clear
Footprints will remain for a long time when the grass is
Grass blades will fold in half.
Soil samples from the root zone feel dry. A general rule for
watering is to apply 3/4" of water two or three times per week in the summer
and once every ten to fourteen days in the winter. The best time for lawn
irrigation is in the early morning hours to avoid prolonging the dew period
which can encourage disease problems. pan>
Is this a good time to seed a lawn? The best time to seed is
during the spring and summer months from April through July, since this
permits a full growing season before cold weather. Seed may be planted as
late as September or early October, but establishment is much slower because
of cooler weather. In most instances a mature sod will not be formed when
planted this late until the following summer. In north Florida, young
seedling grasses may be winter-killed if they are planted too late in the
fall. Spring and summer seeding also takes advantage of Florida's rainy
season and may greatly reduce irrigation requirements. Here are a few spring
Seed as soon as possible so the seed is in the ground and ready
to germinate as soon as the soil temperatures rise.
Improve the seed-to-soil contact by raking or disturbing the
soil before seeding. After seeding, a light raking will further mix the seed
and soil or a light rolling will push the seed into better contact with
Water lightly to keep the seed bed moist as soil temperatures
warm and the seed starts to germinate.
Avoid any herbicide applications to the seeded areas until
the seedlings are established and mowed at least 3 or 4 times (this might
May or later depending on the weather).
Since the seedlings will not develop a good root system until
next fall, keep the newly seeded areas well-watered all summer. So unless
you absolutely have to sow seed in the spring remember that a poor fall
seeding is always better than a good spring one.
I have recently moved to a new home with an established yard.
When should I fertilize? Your plants will benefit from two feedings per
year, one in March and another in September. Remember that fertilizing
equals more branches, more stems, more leaves, more roots, therefore, more
maintenance cost, more cutting, more clipping and more pruning. If you are
happy with the size and appearance of your plants, why encourage it to
Can I grow a St. Augustine lawn from seed? There is a St.
Augustine seed product available, but it is a variety of St. Augustine
('Raleigh') that is adapted to Central Florida. Therefore, it is much easier
to establish a St. Augustine lawn from sprigs, plugs, or sod.
Every summer my Bahia grass develops yellow spots even though I
fertilized, what causes this? Yellow spots or streaks indicate an iron
deficiency. In the spring and summer, Bahia grows so rapidly that it cannot
keep up with its own nutritional demand for iron. It is best to make
supplemental iron applications and avoid heavy summer fertilization or
fertilizing with a fertilizer high in water soluble nitrogen since this will
encourage excessive growth and increased demand for iron.
I have read about this wonderful miracle grass called Zoysia. Is
it as good as the advertisement says? Due to over-enthusiastic
newspaper advertisements, the public has been misinformed on the merits of
zoysia grasses. Zoysias have advantages and disadvantages like all Florida
lawn grasses. The improved zoysias have to be propagated vegetatively and
are extremely slow in becoming established. An entire growing season may be
required for coverage of the lawn when propagated by plugging or sprigging.
All zoysias produce a heavy thatch which required periodic renovation. Other
disadvantages include: slow recovery from damage; high fertility
requirement; need for frequent irrigations; can be severely damaged by
nematodes, hunting billbugs, and several diseases. If you are interested in
having a Zoysia lawn, locate a variety developed for Florida (such as
Cashmere); the varieties usually advertised will not grow in Florida.
Should I leave my grass clippings on the lawn or should I have a
catch bag on my mower? If you are mowing frequently enough, it is best
to leave the clippings on the grass to recycle the nitrogen in them (as much
as 1-2 pounds per year - the equivalent of 1 to 2 fertilizations per year).
Mow often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the grassblades are removed.
The small amount of clippings generated from frequent mowings will not
contribute to thatch.
What is the best height to cut my grass? How often should I cut
it? The suggested mowing practices during the growing season is: Bahia
grass, 3 to 4 inches, every four to seven days; Bermuda grass, to 1 inches,
every three to five days; Carpetgrass, 1 to 2 inches, every 10 to 14 days,
Centipede grass, 1 to 2 inches, every 10 to 14 days, St. Augustine grass, 2
to 4 inches, every four to seven days. Zoysia grass, 1 to 2 inches, every 10
to 14 days.
My neighbor tells me I am fertilizing my lawn too often. What
problems could that cause? My lawn looks fine now. Many pest problems
are increased when the lawn if overly stimulated with soluble nitrogen.
Chinch bugs, sod webworms, nematodes and brown patches are just a few of
those problems. Excessive growth means more mowing. Most established
landscape grasses grown well with two or three applications a year.
Which grass is drought tolerant, nematode resistant and is low
maintenance? Bahia grass fits the bill on all three counts.
When planning a landscape, what security problems should be
considered? Keep your front door in view from the street. Let windows
be visible. You may want to plant barberry shrubs beneath windows. The
thorns can keep people away. Don't plant an area that can be a hiding place
for burglars. Also, incorporate low-voltage lighting in your landscape
My lawn is lush and healthy, so why do I have mushrooms growing
there? Toadstools are often seen on lawns high in humus content. They
do not damage the lawn and can be removed easily by taking the back of a
We have a border of very attractive, big, blue liriope. However,
this summer it never really got green and lush, and there were barely any
flowers. We pulled out a lot of brown blades from the center, but that
didn't seem to help? To encourage lush liriope with a profusion of
spears, early in the spring, cut the whole thing back to just above the
ground with scissors, lawn mower or nylon edge cutter. In no time the plants
will improve dramatically.
The property we purchased has a combination lawn of St. Augustine
and Centipede grass. What can I use for weed control, and when is the best
time to apply it? If you are trying to control crabgrass or goosegrass,
you can use a pre-emergence herbicide such as Atrazine in December and plan
to reapply approximately two months later for seasonal control, you can
apply a post-emergence herbicide (ex.Asulox) one in May and again in August.
However, you should not apply a post-emergence herbicide when the
temperature is more than 85 degrees or your lawn is suffering from lack of
When is the best time to overseed with winter rye grass? In
our area, you can overseed with annual rye grass anytime from the middle of
November through early December. Ideally, you want to wait until the average
daytime temperatures stay consistently below the mid-70 degree F range.