Grass needs water, especially in Florida where it is very hot. Luckily, our sub-tropical summers provide free irrigation for us and our plants and lawn get
Getting back to watering requirements, it is very important that you keep St. Augustine grass watered…that is why so many people have irrigation systems installed. During the springtime, when it is hot and dry, we really need to do our best to play “mother nature” and make it rain for our grass. If you want a green, lush lawn during March, April and May (May possibly being the exception depending on that year’s rainfall), you really need to set up the sprinklers and let the lawn drink for about 30 minutes, every day. Fertilizer, of course, plays another huge role in creating a thick, lush lawn free of dollar weed and other weeds. For recommendations on appropriate fertilizers and their application, feel free to contact The Mednick Landscape Company (772-332-4651 www.MednickLandscape.com). We would love to help you in this area!
When setting up your sprinklers, there are some more “complicated” issues we must address. All parts of your lawn are not created equally! You will notice, that often times the lowest point of your lawn tends to be greener than the rest. This is because of runoff…the water from the higher parts of the lawn heads downhill to these areas, keeping them nice and nourished. Also, we need to note that concrete, sidewalks, stones, and any similar foundation absorbs heat much more quickly than the earth does. Grass that is nearby these objects are subject to quicker rates of evaporation, resulting in less water retention. These areas need to be watered more heavily than the lower points, especially if they have sandy soil and not a rich, organic, loamy soil. Sandy soils do not retain water as well as high-quality soil and accelerate the rate at which water disperses. The rule of thumb in regards to watering your grass is to simply look at whether the grass blades are wilting. If they are not standing erect or when you step in it, you leave a footprint, you should give your lawn some water. In a perfect world (with perfect irrigation systems that dispersed water evenly to an evenly leveled lawn with consistent soil), St. Augustine grass would always have .75 inches of water moisture in the soil surrounding it.
In order to do a test for your lawn and irrigation (and also look crazy to all your neighbors), you can do the following test:
- Take 10-15 containers (i.e.-Tupperware, buckets, etc.) and spread them across your lawn in different areas.
- Now, turn on your irrigation system for a set period of time…in this case, let’s say one hour for simplicity’s sake.
- After an hour, turn off the irrigation, and go check your bowls/dishes. Each bowl will likely have different levels of water (which might make you re-consider your setup depending on whether or not certain areas are getting adequate water…especially the higher areas/those near sidewalks).
- Take the average depth of all of the bowls.
For simplicity’s sake again,
Proper Mowing of St. Augustine Grass
One of the most basic, but most vital things to consider when mowing your lawn is using sharp blades on your mower. Especially if you have sandy soil, lawn mower blades (made of steel) lose their edge pretty quickly. These blades are rotating very quickly, typically having blade speeds (at the tip) of about 20,000 feet per minute! Can you imagine how dull your kitchen knife would get if it chopped that much vegetation? So, the rule of thumb is to sharpen your mower blades every 8 hours. For a homeowner, depending on the size of your yard, this can be 3 or 4 times a year. For commercial landscape maintenance professionals…you want to make sure that your company is sharpening their blades EVERY day. No exceptions. If they aren’t, they are overlooking a seemingly trivial, but truly important responsibility to their clients. The Mednick Landscape Company ends every day doing routine maintenance to its equipment, which includes sharpening and replacing blades.
The reason the blade being sharp is so important is that a dull blade will actually bruise, and tear grass tips…this results in a brown lawn. Grass doesn’t want to be scratched and scarred…it then has to put its energy into healing, rather than growing and prospering. The idea of lawn mower blades is to move so fast that it actually creates “lift” or suction below the mower deck. This makes the grass stand erect, so that the sharp blades can easily and cleanly cut the blades of grass.
Having a rounded mower blade creates less left, and is almost the equivalent of beating your grass with a baseball bat at a very high speed. The high speed ensures the grass is in fact cut, but the remaining grass has been abused and now needs to put considerable energy into regaining its health, rather than continuing to improve. Two paragraphs about lawn mower blades being sharp are more than I’m sure you all wanted to read, but I can’t stress how important this is…make sure your blades or your mower are sharp!
How much grass you cut off each time you mow should be relative to how quickly the grass is growing and will change during different times of the year. You only want to cut off 1/3 of the existing grass. When you cut off this amount, you don’t have to worry about bagging the clippings because they will be so fine. Also, they are actually mulching the lawn are recycling nutrients to the lawn as they decompose into the soil. As the lawn gets healthier, thicker and more uniform you can afford to raise the height of the mower deck without it resulting in a “patchy” and unkempt look. The height of the grass above the ground usually correlates directly with the length of the grasses roots below the ground. Larger roots result in a healthier, more drought resistant and disease resistant lawn.
The additional height of the grass provides more shade for its roots and the soil. This does two things: 1) it slows evaporation in the soil, and 2) reduces the chances of weed seeds from germinating. Weeds will now be competing with a stronger, more vigorous grass and a grass that towers above the weeds, absorbing and keeping all of the glorious sunlight for itself. The weeds will have to defy all odds to compete with this lawn.
Fertilizing St. Augustine Grass
Fertilization is an extremely beneficial and one of the best things you can do to get your lawn healthy. All organisms need to eat and drink…we need to stay hydrated obviously, but we don’t get our nutrients and vitamins from
Grass requires food.
Fertilization is a much more in-depth topic, however, and professionally I do not feel comfortable giving general/across the board advice on a topic that is so circumstantial to a particulars lawns conditions. We would love to help you out, however, on any of your fertilization questions and can speak with you individually to discuss the particular needs of your lawn. Don’t hesitate to contact us, we would love to help.