Lawn Maintenance Tips

Your lawn is an expensive investment. Use the following tips to help keep your lawn looking great all year.
  1. Mow grass 3-4” or higher during the hot months to prevent burning and to minimize introduction of weeds, pests and fungus.
  2. Ensure mower blades are sharp to prevent introduction of fungus and lawn disease. Mower blades should be sharpened at least one or twice per year.
  3. Overwatering grass promotes fungus, weeds and results in poor root development. Underwatering can encourage insect buildup.
  4. Hand pull weeds or spot spray weeds with herbicide when the daily temperature is consistently 85 degrees or above. This will minimize lawn distress. Treating the entire lawn with a herbicide irrespective of the presence of weeds can present unnecessary lawn stress when temperatures are above 85 degrees. This is especially true when using Atrazine herbicide.
  5. Apply weed control herbicides to the entire lawn in either late fall, late winter or early spring when daytime high temperatures are consistently below 85 degrees. This will minimize lawn distress.
  6. Apply crabgrass pre-emergent no later than February 15th as increasing soil temperature will allow crabgrass seeds to germinate. When soil temperatures ramp up to consistently be above 50°F  it is the right time to apply the pre-emergent. If you do not know the soil temperature then consider that it generally translates to a time-frame of when daytime ambient air temperatures reach 65 to 70°F for four or five consecutive days. Typically the application period for the Orlando area will be between January 21st and February 15th. Once crabgrass germinates and appears in your lawn it can be difficult to manage.
  7. Maintain proper soil pH and micronutrients. Soil pH for St. Augustine grass should typically be in the 6.5 for optimal growth; 7.0 is neutral and 6.5 slightly acidic. Improper soil pH can lead to lethargic growth, fungus problems and other issues. Because of leaf decay the soil pH levels under trees can quickly become too acidic for grass. Soil located near walls, driveways or buildings can become too alkaline because of leaching of concrete products. Soil should tested for proper pH as well as other considerations such as micronutrients, etc. and adjusted accordingly. Soil pH can be tested by the Seminole County Agricultural Extension but a more comprehensive soil test is recommended such as provided by Agro Services International. For a $25 service fee Agro Services will perform a complete soil analysis and provide recommendations on soil amendments including pH adjustment. An example of a soil analysis report from a homeowner in our community can be reviewed HERE. Note that in addition to an unacceptable pH of 4.7 the report show 8 other deficiencies but includes recommendations to properly amend the soil. As a general rule, 2 to 3 pounds of dolomitic limestone (dolomite) per 100 square feet will raise the pH one point; never apply more than 50lbs per 1,000 sq-ft in one application; it can take 1 to 2 years to adjust pH.
  8. Lawn insects become very active when daytime temperatures are consistently 90+ degrees.  Apply lawn insecticide 3-6 times per year as needed. Application frequency depends on the type of insecticide used.
  9. Dry patches in your lawn could be an indication of insects, not underwatering. Check your lawn for common warm weather pests such as chinch bugs and grubs as the source of lawn dryness. Many of the pesticides sold by Lowes, HomeDepot and Ace contain the synthetic compound Pyrethroid which has become less and less effective in Central Florida as chinch bugs have become resistant to synthetic Pyrethroids and other chemical classes of pesticides used for Southern Chinch Bug Management. Consider using Arena as the go to pesticide to control chinch bugs. Arena is generally applied at 90 day intervals (60 - 80 days if continuous summer heavy rain) and can be purchased at Sunniland, BWI, or Helena Chemical.
  10. Apply lawn fungicide 3-5 times per year as needed. The type of fungus in St. Augustine grass will vary depending on conditions such as temperature and moisture. Consult a fungus identification guide to determine the type of fungus and the appropriate fungicide options. Certain fungicides are more appropriate than others so do not throw away money by applying the wrong fungicide.
  11. As a general rule, plan on fertilizing 3-4 times per year. There are alternative schedules to this depending on the trade-off between maintenance and appearance of your lawn. Always follow the rule that nitrogen should be applied at a maximum rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application; ideally this means that with 4 applications per year a total of 4 pounds per 1,000 sq-ft annually should be applied. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service also provided a yearly calendar for St. Augustine care and culture. Always use a slow release fertilizer with micro-nutrients and using a fertilizer calculator may be helpful.
  12. When you walk on your lawn you may notice small white moths fluttering about. These lawn moths are laying eggs to begin a cycle that will yield sod webworms; a destructive force on many St. Augustine lawn. You should identify and treat for sod webworms before they cause irreversible damage which could end up require resodding. You may note small areas that appear to be "mowed or grazed" which can become quit large in only 24 hours.
  13. Re-sod damaged sections of the lawn before weeds take over.
  14. High nitrogen fertilizer should not be applied during the hot months as it promotes fungus and pests. Use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and higher in potassium such as 7-0-20 when temperatures are 90+ degrees.
  15. Irrigate lawn using the rules for watering. City watering restrictions are always in effect.
  16. Maintain lawn irrigation. Check irrigation valves for proper operation. A visible change to low water pressure in the irrigation system could be an indication that valve diaphragms need to be replaced. Grass runners can prevent irrigation pop-ups from operating correctly. Clear grass from around irrigation pop-ups.
  17. Water just prior to sunrise to help minimize fungus growth. Watering during daylight hours results in higher levels of evaporation and water loss. Avoid watering just prior to sunset or just after sunset as fungus can develop easier during long periods of dampness on grass blades.
  18. Because of the climate and insect population in Florida, your lawn can quickly sustain damage. Lawns should be checked often for signs of damage from distress, pests or fungus.
  19. Weeds such as nutsedge, crabgrass and bermudagrass cannot be killed using typical herbicides found in most garden centers. Contact a landscaping expert for treatment options. For post-emergent nutsedge solutions consider products such as Sedge Ender (by Bonide) or SedgeHammer (by Gowan).
  20. Always keep an open eye out for common lawn problems and be proactive about treating the problem before severe damage hits you in the wallet.
  21. If you are having problems maintaining your grass in shady areas refer to our tips on Growing a Healthy Lawn in Shady Areas.
  22. If you need to resod take a look at our St. Augustine resodding tips.
  23. For bug, fungus and weed control take a look at our Recommended Lawn Products page.
  24. For the do-it-yourself homeowner the products you need to keep your lawn looking great such as fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer can be purchased from many sources. In addition to the obvious places such as Home Depot, Lowes or Ace Hardware, products can be acquired from many internet based resellers and locally from wholesale outlets such as Sunniland, John Deer, BWI and Helena Chemical.
    • Sunniland Corporation at 5332 Pen Avenue in Sanford near the intersection of Ronald Reagan Blvd and US 17-92. Sunniland has an expert who can help identify the product you need. If asked for your account name: "Longwood Green" (407) 322-2421
    • BWI Companies at 700 W Orange Blossom Trail in  Apopka. If asked for your account name: "Longwood Green" (407) 884-0242
    • Helena Chemical at 21244 FL-46 in Mt. Dora. If asked for your account name:  "Longwood Green" (352) 383-8139

Asulox for Treatment of Crabgrass in St. Augustine Grass
Asulox is a selective herbicide that was once available for treatment of crabgrass weeds in residential St. Augustine lawns. It is no longer labeled for this purpose and is generally only available for treatment of weeds within certain specified crops.

Asulox is used by mixing it with the appropriate amount of water then applying the diluted solution with a sprayer. Spray ONLY crabgrass to the point where leaves are wet but before runoff occurs and do NOT broadcast spray the entire St. Augustine lawn. The crabgrass will die only when Asulox is completely translocated throughout the crabgrass. It may take 2 to 3 weeks to observe effectiveness therefore you should not retreat crabgrass that was already sprayed.

Dilution rates of Asulox to create a spray solution is based on the high ambient temperature for the day. This is to minimize stress on surrounding St. Augustine grass that may be contacted with the solution due to overspray. In addition, it is appropriate to use a non-ionic surfactant to improve wetability and coverage and to reduce spray runoff. Dilution rates:
        Temp         Ounces Asulox                Non-Ionic Surfactant
85°more    0.5oz per gallon water    Capful
65°- 84°    1.0oz per gallon water    Capful
64°less      1.5oz per gallon water    Capful

Longwood Green HOA pH Testing Results
Soil samples were  taken from the GREENS and OAKS entry areas on 04-03-2014 where St. Augustine grass was planted. 8 - 12 samples were taken per area at a depth of 3" - 4" below surface and mixed prior to testing by the Seminole County Extension. St. Augustine prefers soil pH to be between 6.0 to 8.0 with the sweet spot at 6.5 +/- 0.5. Soil out of the ideal range can be pH adjusted. To raise soil pH by 1.0 point requires 50 lbs pelletized dolomite/limestone per 1000 sq-ft. Lowering the pH calls for 10 lbs sulfer per 1000 sq-ft once every three months.

GREENS - West Entrance 6.6
GREENS - East Entrance 7.4 - Applied sulfur at 5 lbs/1000 sq-ft on 04/17/2014
OAKS - Front of Brick Sign 7.7 - Applied sulfur at 10 lbs/1000 sq-ft on 04/17/2014
OAKS - Side Strip Behind Brick Sign 7.8 - Applied sulfur at 10 lbs/1000 sq-ft on 04/17/2014