The turfgrasses planted as lawns on the Treasure Coast are all classified as warm-season grasses. This means the turf plants thrive with sultry temperatures and frequent rain. The common types are St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, Bahia and Centipede.
These have tropical origins and go dormant when temperatures are cold. As our lawns shift into a turbo-growth mode, here are a few ideas and tips to consider as you care for and enjoy your summer lawn.
Heat and rain can leave the lawn looking a little peaked at this time of year. Fertilizer restrictions and sweltering temperatures limit what nutrients can or should be applied to the turf. It may be best to use only secondary and micronutrients to green up listless or nutrient deficient lawns and ornamental plants during the summer heat.
Apply a minor element mix, also known as micro or trace elements — the other 16 elements plants need to grow. Iron is often all that is required to perk up a lawn this time of year, and excess application of N, P and K can pollute surface and groundwater. Look for chelated minor elements in liquid and granular form and follow the label instructions.
Mow often. A pre-mow inspection of the area to be mowed will save grief later. Look for and remove rocks, toys, branches, hoses, trash, kids and spouses. Dangerous lawnmowers are not safe for small children either as a rider or nearby observer.
Our eyes provide much of the enjoyment we get from our gardens, yet few of us protect this precious resource while gardening. Eye injuries occur from landscape maintenance activities from flying stones or debris flung from lawnmowers or string-line trimmers.
Sharp items such as stakes or tree branches cause damage and bacterial or fungal infections can arise from contact with plants or dirt. Wear safety glasses; look for products with side shields and those with ANSI ratings for impact protection.
Droughts and water restrictions are often wake-up calls for gardeners. Brown spots in lawns frequently indicate inadequate coverage by sprinkler heads. Good irrigation design dictates “head-to-head” coverage, defined as when the water from one head reaches the next. Now is a good time to call an irrigation specialist to schedule an efficiency inspection.
Not all spots in the St. Augustine lawn are caused by drought; the hot, dry weather favors chinch bug infestations. Look for chinch bugs at the edge of the damage in the green grass. Use a flush of soap and water to aid inspection and treat if chinch bugs are found. Also, worms or caterpillars could be feeding on the lawn at this time.
Take care of yourself, the family and the lawn for an enjoyable summer respite. However, consider converting any lawn not used for play, relaxation or maintenance into native gardens for a more resource-efficient and wildlife-friendly landscape.
Carol Cloud Bailey is a landscape counselor and horticulturist. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.yard-doc.com for more information.
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