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Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Fertilizer and your yard

October 2017

Proper fertilization is very important for sustaining a healthy lawn. Fertilization and other cultural practices influence the overall health and quality of the lawn and reduce its vulnerability to numerous stresses, including weeds, insects, and disease. It is very important that anyone fertilizing their lawn be familiar with and follow the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Best Management Practices (FFL BMPs)---yes there is such a thing. These practices are designed to maintain healthy lawns and reduce any potential nonpoint source pollution of water resources that might result from lawn and landscape fertilization. There are now state and, in some cities and counties, local regulations that cover lawn fertilization. Be sure to be aware of these regulations and always follow the directions on the fertilizer bag. 

A recent revision of the Florida Urban Turfgrass Fertilization Rule---yep, that's a thing too--- allows for application of up to 2 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet when applying fertilizer in the spring or summer and if using a fertilizer that has at least 65% controlled release nitrogen. No more than 0.7 lbs of soluble (quick release) nitrogen per 1,000 square feet can be applied at any one time. 

As a general rule, the first fertilizer application of the year should be, in south Florida, fertilizer applications may be made throughout the year since growth is year-round. The University of Florida has laid down some guidelines for varying growth scenarios. An example of this would be a typical home lawn that is partially shaded and partially sunny. The grass growing in the shade needs less fertilizer than that growing in full sun. Fertilization is also affected by soil type, organic matter in soils, and practices such as clipping management (how much cut grass you leave behind). Additionally, a newly sodded lawn on a sand soil with little organic matter requires more fertilizer than a lawn that has been fertilized for years. In Florida, new homes and new developments may be next to much older developed landscapes, and a one-size-fits-all approach to fertilization is not reasonable. These guidelines provide a base range from which the end user can begin a fertilization program. The homeowner is encouraged to initiate a program based on these guidelines and to adjust it over time based on how the turfgrass responds.

For those of us in South Florida, quarterly fertilization is the recommended scheduling of applications.  That being said, it is not recommended to apply fertilizer on extremely hot days.  Manufacturers discourage applications over 85 degrees.  This would be nearly impossible during the summer as we reach 85 every day.  So, try to pick a light rainy day where we have some good cloud cover.

Weed and feed fertilizers work well and most are slow release formulas making it difficult to harm your lawn.  However, ONLY APPLY FERTILIZER PER THE MANUFACTURER'S INSTRUCTIONS!

Grass does EVERYTHING slowly.  It's a marathon...not a sprint.  Keep your lawn well watered and well fed.  You'll be happy you did.

Thanks for reading and happy landscaping!

A Better Looking Yard

September 2017

June 3, 2017

Hi folks, Roger here at Dakota Landscaping.  A question I always seem to get is, "Roger, how can I get my grass looking better?"  Well, it's not all that hard but it does take some effort.  Lawn care takes some time and patience but is worth the effort.  Chances are, if you're reading this your lawn is struggling.  Weeds, bare spots, and the color is not a lush green.  The most common grass in South Florida is Floratam St. Augustine.  This grass was developed in a joint effort with the University of Florida and Texas A&M University to resist chinch bugs in 1973.  However, this has become irrelevant over time and chinch bugs are now a major pest for Floratam.  Floratam requires at least 6 hours of daily sunlight, should be fertilized every 12 weeks with a quality fertilizer, and watering should be monitored.  Ok, watering is a BIG deal.  As I've met with folks over the years, I have seen damage from over and under watering.  Believe it or not, over water does more damage to most yards than most folks would believe.  On average, South Florida receives about 50" of annual rainfall.  That's a lot of water.  Frequently watering your lawn in short time intervals promotes shallow root growth and promotes disease.

Commonsense can go a long way.  If your irrigation system has a rain sensor..use it.  I can't tell you how many of these I see turned off.  If it has been raining for a few days, turn your system off.  Make sure your lawn, during dry times, receives 15-20 minutes of water (1/2" -3/4" of water) daily until it rains again.  If your lawn shows a little stress during very hot and dry time periods add another 20 minute cycle.

Watering during the day is wasteful as the soil loses too much water to evaporation.  Watering at night or early evening promotes disease and fungus growth.  Always water in the early morning.

As always, we're here to help.  Fire us over a question and we'd be happy to answer.  

Thanks for reading and happy landscaping!

How to treat brown patch

July 2019

June 3, 2017

Hi folks, Roger here at Dakota Landscaping. St. Augustine grass, is a popular thick growing warm season grass, that easily keeps most weeds at bay. Unfortunately it is susceptible to brown patches which most commonly occur in early spring and late fall. But what do you do to get your green lawn back, and how can this be prevented from happening again?  

St. Augustine Grass is susceptible to a type of fungus aptly called brown patch fungus. Brown patch fungus unsurprisingly causes large brown patched in the lawn. Brown patch fungus proliferates in cool wet conditions.

Maintaining your yard properly can prevent this type of fungus from destroying your lawn. Most steps for patch fungus prevention are typical for maintaining any yard, but St. Augustine grass can be a bit more sensitive. 

Ok, so what do we do to HELP prevent this fungus from doing damage to our lawns?

1.  First of all, watering the lawn too late in the day will leave the lawn damp at night. This is especially problematic in the cooler months as this is precisely the conditions brown patch mold thrives in.

Instead water in the early morning, preferably at sunrise. This will give the grass blades time to dry before nightfall. 

2.  Watering too frequently causes the damp conditions that brown patch mold loves. St. Augustine grass should only be watered once it is dry and showing signs of drought, typically every 5- 10 days. St. Augustine grass is semi-drought tolerant, and does best when watering is done only as needed

3.  The recommended depth to water St. Augustine grass is 4- 6 inches. This is not 4-6 inches of water, but instead the depth into ground which the water is reaching. Based on your lawns drainage, the amount of water needed could vary.

4.  AVOID using nitrogen rich fertilizer in early spring and late fall. Nitrogen fertilizer promotes lush green growth, and this soft growth is just what brown patch fungus enjoys. This new growth provides a nice platform for the fungus to grow on. Fertilizing too early or late can lead to fungus growth. Instead use nitrogen fertilizer only in late spring or in the summer. 

5.  Keep your soil well drained. Compacted soil provides poor drainage, again leading to a lawn with too much surface moisture. Avoid this problem by aerating your lawn at least once a year, and maintaining a good PH in your law.

6.  Applying fungicide in early May may be helpful. Using fungicide early can be an effective way to control brown patch mold. There are many fungicides to chose from, and the one you chose will be largely dependent on what is available in your area, as well as the type of application that works best for you. Whichever fungicide you decide on, follow the instructions on the packaging. Most fungicides will need to be applied once or twice a month. For the best results, be certain to begin use fungicide at the first signs of brown patch fungus.

We're always here to answer questions so feel free to give us a call.  Happy landscaping!