When to Fertilize
- Avoid fertilizing warm-season grass toward the end of fall. This encourages lawn growth into the colder seasons when the lawn should not be growing. Instead, fertilize when the weather begins to warm up for good and plants begin to flourish, sometime in early spring. Fertilize again in the middle of summer.Cool-season grass requires fertilization at the onset of spring, or as soon as the grass recovers from winter dormancy. Fertilize again in the early fall after heat waves and droughts have subsided for the year.
- Follow the numbering system when shopping for fertilizer. Each bag or container of fertilizer should have a set of three hyphenated numbers in its description. The first number represents nitrogen level, which keeps your lawn green. The second number represents phosphorous levels, which affect your lawn’s root development. The third number is potassium, which aids in drought- and disease-resistance.Read fertilizer packaging carefully before purchasing to know which is the best for your lawn.
Fertilizer Spreader Types
- Even distribution is paramount to proper lawn fertilization in the Tampa valley. Avoid distributing fertilizer by hand. Not only will doing so keep your hands clean, it will also prevent uneven distribution.invest in and use a fertilizer spreader. Spreader types available for personal use include hand-held crank, drop and broadcast models.Use the hand-held crank spreader if you have shrubbery, hard-to-reach and hard-to-navigate portions of your lawn. The hand-held crank is the smallest of the spreaders and can fit into tight spaces best. The drop spreader is a push model and covers more ground faster than the hand-held crank. This may be all you need for a smaller lawn. The broadcast spreader is the largest of the three and is ideal for fertilizing large lawns.
Fertilizer Spreader Usage
- Load your spreader with the exact amount of fertilizer suggested for your lawn specifications. Use a measuring cup you are willing to designate for lawn fertilization purposes. Fill the spreader on pavement so that you can gather any spilled fertilizer. Sweep up and dispose of excess fertilizer from the driveway, sidewalk or other non-lawn areas surrounding your home. Fertilizer not absorbed by lawn can contaminate water supply or stain driveways.Fertilize from one end of your lawn to the other in straight lines you can keep track of. Open the spreader chute after you have started walking. Close the spreader chute right before you reach the end of your lawn. This prevents fertilizer from piling when you start and stop walking. Close the spreader while you are turning as well. Cover your lawn in straight lines this way.Water your lawn after fertilization to help the fertilizer sink down to your lawn’s roots. Some fertilizers do not require watering. Check your fertilizer instructions to see if watering is necessary.
Mowing height and frequency
- Knowing the right height to cut your grass often makes or breaks your efforts to have a great-looking lawn in Tampa. Here are some suggested heights for certain types of grasses that are grown in the Northern portion of the United States.
- Common bermuda needs a height of 3/4 inch to 1 1/4 inches. Hybrid bermudas need less; U3 hybrid bermuda needs 1 inch, and Tifway (419) needs 1/2 inch.
- St. Augustine is a very common grass in Northern lawns , and can be mowed at 2 to 3 inches high
- Ryegrass needs 1 1/2 to 2 inches to grow well.
- Fescue will need to be cut at 2, 2 1/2 inches high.
- Zoystia grass needs cut at the lower height of 1 to 1 1/2 inches.
- Buffalo grass should be cut at about 2 to 3 inches.
A quick reminder: try not to cut more than a third of you lawn’s height at one time. If you regularly do so, then you need to mow more frequently.
If you mow shorter than the recommended height, then you run the risk of scalding your lawn; if you routinely mow your grass higher than the usual height, then you grass directs growth up instead of out, leading to a thinner turf that may not resist weed invasion as well as a thicker and healthier turf. Lawns prefer to be cut regularly so, weekly mowing during the growing season is preferred.
Finding the best grass height for your lawn can be tricky, but the results will well repay your efforts and experimentation.