Greening your lawn
A good lawn maintenance program includes proper mowing, watering and pest control. With our water restrictions, be sure that your sprinkling system is calibrated to deliver ¾ inch of water each time you water. (See "How to Calibrate Your Sprinkler System" at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/LH026). Your grass should be mowed at the proper height for the variety to encourage deep roots that increase drought tolerance. Mow often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf surface is removed. A sharp-bladed mower is a necessity to insure a clean cut which avoids leaf blade damage by tearing the grass tips. (See the chart below for mowing heights.)
If you choose to fertilize your St. Augustine lawn this month, please note that University of Florida research shows that repeatedly using large amounts of water soluble nitrogen fertilizer can ignite a population explosion of Southern chinch bugs. Chinch bugs are the No. 1 insect pest of St. Augustine grass, the state's most popular lawn grass.
University of Florida turfgrass experts advise homeowners to use no more than 1 pound of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn. For more information about Southern chinch bugs, go to edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh036.
Proper grass mowing heights
St. Augustine (Floratam): 3 ½ to 4 inches
Dwarf St. Augustine (Seville, Captiva, Delmar): 2 ½ to 3 inches
Bahia: 3 to 4 inches
Zoysia: 1 to 3 inches
Bermuda: ½ to- 1 ½ inches
Seashore Paspalum: 1 to 2 inches
Centipede: 1 ½ - 2 inches
Source: Mowing Your Florida Lawn edis.ifas.ufl.edu/LH028
Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. For additional landscape and garden information, visit pinellascountyextension.org. For regular tips and information about what's growing in Pinellas, go to facebook.com/growpinellas.