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Water is a big issue in Central Florida lawn care. Grass needs more
frequent watering during hot, dry weather and watering restrictions in most
areas compound the problem. The best strategy is to water only when
necessary, but this may not be possible due to assigned watering days.
Watering deeply and less frequently encourages the roots to grow deeper
and helps the plant tolerate drought. Water in the morning when the plants
are actively taking in water. In the heat of the day, more water is lost to
evaporation. At night, water stays on the foliage longer and may
encourage fungal diseases. Give the lawn approximately 3/4 inch of water
in the morning one day a week. Increase watering to two days per week
during the hottest parts of the summer. A good indicator is to look for your
footprints when you walk across the lawn. If your footprints are visible, the
lawn needs water.
Apply High-Nitrogen Fertilizer
Use a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 15-0-15 or 15-2-15 on the lawn
during the spring through fall; withhold fertilizer during periods of drought.
Broadcast fertilizer on dry grass and water immediately. Fertilizers with
some or all of the nitrogen available in a time-release form are best.
Supplement the lawn with an iron spray if the soil pH is greater than 7.0.
Yellow grass is a sign of iron deficiency in acidic soils.
Use a pre-emergent herbicides that is labeled for the specific grass variety
to prevent weeds. In Central Florida, apply pre-emergent herbicides after
February and before May 1st, and during September. Use post-emergent
herbicides throughout the summer, whenever the temperature is below 90
degrees F and the grass has been receiving plenty of moisture.
Control Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are a major source of damage to Central Florida lawns,
causing yellowing, browning and eventually dead spots in the grass. Check
for chinch bugs by cutting both ends off of a metal coffee can and pushing
it halfway into the ground at the edge of a suspected area. Fill with water
and wait five minutes. The beetle-like chinch bugs will float up to the
surface of the water. Control chinch bugs with repeated applications of
Who Can Help?
University of Florida Extension: St. Augustine Grass
for Florida Lawns
University of Florida: Lawn Care and Irrigation