Fall Lawn Care

Fall Lawn Care

Can you feel that fall breeze blowing your way?   Dry air is moving in, the days are getting shorter, and soon our plants will be slowing their growth.  This includes our turfgrass lawns  too.  It’s important to prepare your landscape for the changing seasons and this article will focus on your lawn.  Here in Pinellas County we have a fertilizer ordinance that does not allow us to fertilize with nitrogen during the summer rainy season.  That seasonal ban was lifted again as of October 1st.  If you plan to fertilize, it’s important that you do so this month, because it just so happens to be the last recommended time to fertilize Bahiagrass and St. Augustinegrass lawns for the year.  For more information on our two most popular turfgrass lawns see St. Augustinegrass for Florida Lawns and Bahiagrass for Florida Lawns.

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Choose a fertilizer (never a weed &feed) with no phosphorus, as that’s not allowed in Pinellas County unless a soil test indicates the need.  A fertilizer with controlled-release nitrogen will give longer lasting results, but there is no need to invest in the ultra-long release fertilizers now as they will release nutrients deep into the winter months when your grass will not be using it and it may even wash away or leach into our groundwater.  Those are great for fertilizing just before the summer ban, so save those for next May!  Be sure to follow the fertilizer label instructions, and clean up any spills- fertilizer that is not used by our landscape plants can end up polluting our waterways.  After applying the fertilizer, water it in with ¼” of water- and no more.  If you don’t know how much water your irrigation system puts out you can assume that you should run it for about 15-20 minutes to achieve this.

Now that we’re on the topic of watering let’s talk about how much water your lawn needs in the fall.  (P.S.  It’s a lot less.)  Irrigation frequency varies based on turfgrass species, rainfall amounts, soil type and amount of compaction, shade, location, and by season.  Automatic irrigation systems should be reset seasonally to reflect the varying water requirements of grasses based on time of year. The table below lists some average seasonal irrigation frequencies for maintenance of St. Augustinegrass central Florida.  These frequencies assume that no rainfall occurs, so if rainfall amounts total at least ½ to ¾ “, the frequency can usually be reduced.  (Always follow local water restrictions if applicable.)  You can probably water about once a week now and lower that to every other week from about December through mid-February, depending on when the weather warms up again.

Season 

Number of days that St. Augustinegrass with 6-inch roots can go between irrigation events

Winter

7 – 23

Spring

3 – 9

Summer

1 – 5

Fall

2 – 8

From: Watering Your Florida Lawn http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH02500.pdf

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Now, it’s time to turn your attention to other fall activities because your lawn should be a lot less work from now through spring.  You could watch a football game or perhaps try your hand at vegetable gardening.  We’ve got lots of information on that subject too: Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.  In fact, turning some of your lawn into an edible garden will reduce your mowing next year.  Food for thought… and dinner!