Skip Orth, owner of Father and Son Pest and Lawn Solutions has been working with lawns along the Emerald Coast for more than 25 years and has written a book entitled “What Every Homeowner On The Emerald Coast Needs To Know About Lawn Care”. From his vast experience, he shares a few tips for homeowners to follow this spring to ensure they have a healthy lawn for the following year.
YOUR LAWN HAS LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT OVER THE WINTER
Skip says the first thing to realize is the condition of your lawn in the early spring is not the same as it was last fall when it went dormant. “Over the winter the lawn sheds up to 50 percent of its root mass along with about as much grass blades and runners. A lot of people begin to panic when they start to see their lawn come out of dormancy in the spring and realize it’s not as dense and lush as it was last year.”
Skip encourages home owners not to be anxious at the state of their lawn in early spring but to give it time to regain the root structure and top growth that it lost over the winter. He also states how temperature plays a significant part in how fast the grass starts growing. “Grass really does not start growing until the temperatures get into the mid ‘80s. Some years this happens sooner than others. This year we have had an exceptionally cool spring which has retarded the growth of the grass.”
THE TWO MOST COMMON FERTILIZER MISTAKES
According to Skip, the two most common mistakes people make when fertilizing their lawns in the spring are applying fertilizer too early and applying the wrong kind of fertilizer. “In order for the grass to get the maximum benefit from fertilizer, temperatures need to be in the mid to high ‘80s, otherwise most of the applied nutrients get washed down past the root zone before the grass ever has a chance to absorb them. Fertilizing in early spring while temperatures are still cool is like dumping more than half the bag of fertilizer down the drain because the grass is just unable to take it up.”
According to Skip, not only do you end up wasting money by applying fertilizer too early but there are a number of other disadvantages: Unabsorbed fertilizer runs off into nearby bodies of water and ground water causing pollution and fertilizing too early can also promote disease activity or chlorosis in the lawn making it turn yellow.
The type of fertilizer you apply to your lawn is also very important. “So many of the fertilizers sold in retail stores are not formulated for the type of soil we have in this area.” Skip cautions. “One unique characteristic of our soil here along the Emerald Coast is that it is very low on phosphorus and most fertilizers advertised and sold for spring have little to no phosphorus in them! Applying these products leaves a big gap in the nutritional needs of your lawn!”
Skip says that although a soil test is the best way to determine the needs of your lawn, a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 is a pretty good choice for lawns in our area.
HOW TO PROPERLY APPLY FERTILIZER
Even though you may wait until the right time and purchase the right type of fertilizer for your lawn, it is still important that you apply it correctly. “Every spring you can drive around and see lawns that look striped dark green, light green, dark green from improper fertilizer applications.”
According to Skip, the best way to avoid striping your lawn with fertilizer is to apply granular fertilizer with a “broadcast spreader” which throws the fertilizer out the sides in a random pattern as opposed to a “drop spreader” which drops the granules straight down in a line and is much harder to get proper overlap. His other suggestion is to go back and forth over the lawn one time with the spreader and then back and forth again, changing directions 90 degrees to create a tic tac toe pattern.
In summer, to get the most benefit from feeding your lawn in the spring, wait until temperatures are well in to the 80s before applying fertilizer, apply a balanced formula fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 and use a broadcast spreader, going back and forth over the lawn at 90 degree angles. Are you having problems keeping your lawn healthy?
For FREE LAWN
Father and Son Pest and Lawn Solutions phone or text 850-240-7935.
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