1702 Lakeside Avenue, Suite 6 St. Augustine, Florida 32084
As we head into March we will continue our applications of our Florida Friendly Fertilizer which is a custom blended slow-release fertilizer for this particular time of year. These applications will be in combination with a pre and post emergence herbicide for the control of weeds—for those that haven’t emerged and those already growing.
As we head into our turf growing season, it is important to remember that the applications we make are only 1/3 of what it takes to have a beautiful, healthy lawn. The other 2/3 are up to you which is the proper watering and mowing practices.
MOWING: St. Augustine grass should be maintained at a height of 3.5–4 inches. Repeatedly mowing at lower heights increases the stress on the lawn, discourages deep rooting, increases the chance for scalping if a mowing event is missed or postponed due to weather, and can increase susceptibility to pest and weed issues. Maintaining the right height helps the grass develop a deep root system which gives a better appearance to the turf. No more than 1/3 of the leaf blades should be removed with any mowing. If possible, mowing height should be increased during periods of moisture stress or if the grass is growing in shade. Mowing too infrequently or too high and over-watering and over-fertilizing can cause a thatch buildup. Grass clippings should be left on a lawn that is mowed at the proper height and frequency. Under these conditions, clippings do not contribute to the thatch layer. Clippings put nutrients and organic matter back into the soil system. If clippings are excessive and clumping occurs, let them dry out and hen disperse them over the lawn. It is also good practice to frequently switch your mowing patterns to prevent ruts in your lawn.
IRRIGATION: We recommend 3/4” or 45 minutes per zone (for those of you with irrigation systems) during your allotted watering days, which is twice a week this time of year. Also remember that overwatering can be just as harmful as insufficient watering, causing more weeds, pests and diseases.
We also recommend you start the season by performing a simple DIY test of your irrigation system. This is particularly important for those of you with areas in your lawn that seem to dry out quicker than the rest and/or are disease and weed prone. To determine the amount of irrigation supplied by your sprinkler system, place several straight-sided cans (e.g., tuna fish or cat food) throughout zone and run each zone to determine how long it takes to fill the cans to the ¾-inch level, then record the time. Each zone will likely take different amounts of time to give the same quantity of water. Then take your recorded run times for each zone and program them into your automated system. If the variation in the catch cans is great, a more thorough audit of the irrigation system is needed, however, remember that when you hire an irrigation company it is good practice to run your own “tuna can test” afterwards to insure you are indeed getting the proper amount of water and coverage.
Remember, our lawns are ornamental grasses, meaning that they are not as hardy as the indigenous weed. It needs optimal conditions and the best cultural practices of correct irrigation and mowing in order to thrive.
March Lawn and Garden Checklist...
Turf: In preparation for the dryer months ahead, run your irrigation system manually and check the sprinkler heads to see if they are broken, misdirected, blocked by grass or plugged with dirt. Replace broken heads, adjust any that are misdirected, clean up the grass that may have grown over and blocked them, raise them if they are not high enough and clean them with a piece of wire if they are plugged. If your pop-up sprinkler heads are over five years old, check to see if they are leaking between the shaft and the housing, then replace them if the leakage is significant. Leakage reduces the water available to the rest of the zone, making coverage less effective due to less pressure. Leakage also floods the surrounding area and encourages fungal infection in the turf. During dryer weather, malfunctioning sprinklers are apparent by the brown grass in areas that don’t receive proper watering. Don’t wait for that to happen...a little time and diligence now can keep your lawn looking good during this growing season and most importantly keep the weeds at bay by keeping your lawn healthy.
Vegetable/Fruit Gardens: Most gardens will produce better by amending the soil with compost (organic matter). Do a soil pH test to determine the soil’s acid/alkaline level. Warm season vegetables/fruits can be planted now: snap beans, pole beans, cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelons. And, now is the time to plant the seeds you started indoors in January and February.
Landscape: Annuals that can be planted are ageratum, alyssum, amaranthus, asters, baby’s breath, balsam, begonia, browallia, calendula, celosia, calliopsis, cosmos, dusty miller, exacum, gaillardia, gazania, geranium, hollyhock, impatiens, lobelia, Marguerite daisy, marigold, pentas, phlox, rudbeckia, salvia, strawflower, strepocarpus, Sweet William, thunbergia, torenia, verbena, vinca, and zinnia.
Ornamentals: It’s time to prune back the plants that received frost/freeze damage. If in doubt, wait for new growth to see where the live plant is, although it can be quite a while until new growth begins on damaged plants. A quick way to determine if a stem/branch is alive is to cut it and see if green is present. If all the leaves have fallen off, the branch is probably alive. If the leaves have stayed on the branch, that’s a good indication that it is dead.
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