You’ve got your house to protect you from the elements, but unfortunately for your lawn, it can’t go inside and shield itself from Florida’s harsh and unpredictable weather. So what can you do to help your lawn weather the stormy, hot or dry seasons? “When bad weather hits, there is little you can do,” said Ron Henderson, owner of Country Boy Pest Control Inc. “But you can alleviate damage that could occur by taking proper care of your lawn year round and ensuring you have the appropriate grass species and balanced soil levels to keep it healthy.”
Mowing your lawn is one of the most important facets of lawn care. How you care for you lawn will greatly affect the way it looks, no matter what your lawn care professional does, says Henderson. Mow often enough that you only remove one-third of the grass blade; removing more will cause your lawn to appear brown in a mowing practice known as scalping. Scalping is the process of removing an excessive quantity of leaf tissue and should only be done in early spring, said Henderson. Scalped lawns tend to green-up faster in the summer, but it is not the best practice for long-term grass health.“Each time you scalp your lawn, the grass plant has to redirect more energy and nutrients away from the roots in an effort to produce new leaves, resulting in a weaker root system,” said the Winter Haven pest controlprofessional. “Repeated scalping forces the grass to use stored energy reserves, leaving it susceptible to many problems.”Scalping your lawn year-round could mean your lawn will not be able to recover from the cold winter months as quickly as a lawn that was cut at a higher height. This could result in winterkill, which makes your grass appear as though it is not re-growing and diseased.
Drought Days of Summer
Sandy soil beds in Florida can produce drought-like conditions after only a few days without rain. Throughout the year, especially during drought periods, Florida homeowners are under state mandated watering restrictions.
“Most people think the reduced watering frequency hurts the lawn,” said Henderson, whose company offers lawn mowing services. “In reality, the watering restrictions provide enough water for most lawns to keep them alive and healthy.” Here are some simple rules to follow during drought conditions:
• Adjust the frequency of watering times, not the amount of water applied.
• Aim your sprinklers at the lawn, not the sidewalk or street.
• Water early in the morning so that leftover moisture on the leaves will dry during the day.
• Keep the blades sharp on your lawn mower to ensure proper cutting.
• Apply appropriate fertilization and minimize pesticide use.
“Keep in mind that in extreme waterless conditions, grass will become dormant in a final effort to not die,” said Henderson. “Dormant, brown grass will most likely be revived when it rains, just have a little faith.”
Rain, Rain Go Away
Water conservation isn’t the only reason to limit the amount of water you use on your lawn. During the summer months we can have up to 20 inches of rain in just a few hours. Waterlogging, standing water and shading from damaged structures or branches can cause many problems.
Too much water can deprive the roots of oxygen, hinder development and even kill the lawn. Excessive water promotes rapid growth of weeds and increases the likelihood of disease, which means draining excess water is critical. “You need to first remove any debris to increase air flow and permit light to help dry the lawn,” said Henderson. “Watch closely for signs of disease, apply fungicides as needed and call a professional if you suspect further damage has occurred below the surface.”The weather here in Florida is feast or famine, said Henderson. So it is critical for people to know how to properly care for their lawn, not just know how to run the lawn mower.
Country Boy Pest Control is a Winter Haven lawn care and pest control company that has provided full-service pest control and lawn management services to residential and commercial properties around Polk County and Highlands County since 1990.