Healthy turf grass should be the goal of any do-it-yourself homeowner or lawn care professional, but improper watering, mowing and/or fertilization can be cause for an unhealthy turf system. This may trigger the need for excessive amounts of fertilizer, insecticide or fungicide to control insects or disease.
Proper watering promotes healthy grass by creating deeper, healthier roots. Watering only as needed should be the goal of each individual homeowner. This will create a more drought-tolerant turf system, which in turn, makes the grass less susceptible to insects and disease. Generally, less often and slower but longer watering will train your turf grass to grow a deeper root system. Conversely, frequent and short watering will create a shallow root system, which will cause the grass to be stressed during dry spells, making it vulnerable to insects.
No more than two-three days per week in spring and summer are needed for an established turf system and one day or as needed in the fall and winter. The best case scenario if you are actively monitoring your watering, is to water only as needed. You can achieve this by reading your grass blades. When the grass blades begin to curl or hold your footprint when you walk through it, it is then time to water.
Mowing is as important to a healthy turf system as watering. Each grass variety has its preferences regarding mowing height and frequency, so it is important to know what type of turf you have. Since St. Augustine grass and Zoysia grass are the most commonly used grass in Florida, let’s discuss mowing recommendations for them.
Floratam, which is the most popular variety of St. Augustine grass, prefers to be mowed between 3.5 inches to 4 inches and no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade should be taken off at each mowing. This generally means that the grass will need to be mowed every 5 to 7 days in the growing season and every 10 to 14 days in the dormant, or non-growing season.
Icon Zoysia, which is the most popular variety of Zoysia Grass, prefers to be mowed between 1” inch to 2.5 inches and no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade should be taken off at each mowing. This generally means that the grass will need to be mowed every 5 to 7 days in the growing season and every 10 to 14 days in the dormant, or non-growing season. In addition excessive thatch can become an issues with Zoysia lawns so consider bagging your lawn and using the clippings as fertilizer in your shrub beds during the growing season.
A healthy lawn requires more then just a professional lawn care company. It takes teamwork and communication to achieve a healthy turf system. So, before you just add water or fertilizer a brown spot in your lawn, make a phone call to a professional for expert advice.