February 23 – Warmer temperatures have arrived, and it sure feels like spring. So what’s the best thing you can do for your lawn, which may be looking a bit brown after Florida’s unusually cold winter?
The best answer may be – nothing! Lawngrasses are waiting not only for air temperatures to be warmer, but for the soil to warm up to a consistent temperature to begin the process of “greening up” and growing.
During the winter and early spring, turfgrasses are dormant and need much less water. In fact, overwatering can lead to turf problems such as fungus and root rot. It can also weaken the turf, leaving it vulnerable to weed invasion and pest problems.
TIP: Turn your automatic sprinkler OFF during the winter and spring months.
If there’s been little or no rainfall and the grass begins to look gray or dry, turn the system on, allow it to run through a full cycle, then turn if off again. You’ll save water, money and have a healthier lawn.
And hold off on the fertilizer until ALL danger of frost is past. Dr. Bryan Unruh, turgrass extension specialist with the UF/IFAS West Florida Research & Education Center, notes that North Florida has had frosts as late as April for the past two years. Fertilizing now can promote tender new growth that can be severely damaged by cold. His advice for those areas: “Resist the urge to fertilize until after tax day (April 15).”
More lawn care tips from UF/IFAS are available here: Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn.