Tag Archive: Lawn

Measure Your Lawn the Easy Way

Measure Your Lawn the Easy Way

After you have chosen the right fertilizer, fungicide, herbicide or insecticide to apply to your landscape, the question becomes: how much do I buy? Labels on these products will tell you how many square feet it will cover – so that leads to the next question: how many square feet of lawn do I have?

Here’s an easy way to determine your square footage. This online tool from Sod Solutions uses GIS mapping to figure it out from the comfort of your lounge chair.

On this front page, search for your address.

A bird’s eye view of your property comes up. Zoom in by using the + sign in the lower right corner of the screen.

Plot points on the area you want to measure. This makes it so easy to measure those curved and odd-shaped areas!

The calculation of the area in square feet, yards, and acres is displayed on the left side. The perimeter is also calculated; that might be handy for determining the length of a fence line.

For more information:

Your Florida Lawn website

The Florida Fertilizer Label

Interpreting Pesticide Label Wording

 

 

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/measure-your-lawn-the-easy-way/

Mowing Your Lawn Correctly

Mowing Your Lawn Correctly

Northwest Florida has experienced an enormous amount of rain this summer. The western panhandle has received over 29 inches of rain since the beginning of May according to the Florida Automated Weather Network station at the West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, Florida. That is 44% of average annual rainfall in less than two months. All of this rain has probably thrown off the normal lawn mowing routine. It is hard to get out and mow the lawn when its pouring buckets or the lawn resembles a swamp. With all of this in mind, there are a couple of mowing pointers that would be useful to implement to address the out of control lawn growth and the challenges posed by not being able to stick to normal mowing schedule.

  • Always attempt to mow at the IFAS recommended height for your species of turfgrass. The recommended heights are determined by how quickly the species grow in our climate. The chart below shows the best heights at which to mow your lawn. The fine textured zoysiagrasses are not listed but should be mowed at 0.5 to 1.5 inches. Check the lawn mowers mowing height by measuring the distance from the ground to the bottom of the mowing deck on a flat surface.

From Mowing Your Florida Lawn: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH02800.pdf

  •  When you do get out to mow, never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. If you cut to short you will “scalp” the turf and cause a brown look on the lawn. This can be damaging to the turf and allow for weeds to get established by exposing the soil to the sunlight. What is taking place more in northwest Florida is not mowing frequently enough and cutting off excess growth due to the rain. This also can cause scalping so it is very important to mow frequently enough to only remove 1/3 of the leaf blade.

A zoysia lawn that has been “scalped” after excess growth and infrequent mowing. (Photo Credit: Blake Thaxton)

Other practices such as keeping your mower blade sharp, mowing in different directions, and leaving clippings on the ground will help keep a healthy Florida lawn. Please see more information about mowing correctly in Florida in the University of Florida/IFAS Extension publication: Mowing Your Florida Lawn

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Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/21/mowing-your-lawn-correctly/

Plan Before Fertilizing a Lawn

Plan Before Fertilizing a Lawn

Fertilizer spreader use is in full swing throughout the Florida panhandle

Fertilizing a lawn properly in the summer can enhance the landscape without inducing disease or harming the environment .

One universal activity is seasonal lawn and landscape maintenance. While some consider it a chore, many view it as a means to enhancing their personal environment.

The list of tasks are, for the most part, standard with few surprises. Raking leaves and pine straw, replacing shrubs which did not make it through the winter, and fertilizing the lawn and landscape.

While a routine undertaking, applying fertilizer requires thought and consideration to be effective without negative consequences. It should be a deliberate and well-planned accomplishment which is science based.

The proper selection of a fertilizer should be based on a soil test. Every UF/IFAS Extension Office has supplies for pulling and submitting a soil sample for evaluation.

The results, which can come via mail or e-mail, will tell the homeowner what nutritional deficiencies exist in their lawn and landscape. Based on the type of grass or shrubs, the report will deliver the information on the fertilizer analysis needed for optimum plant performance.

With this information in hand, the homeowner can visit a local retailer who can provide the product which meets the needs of the landscape without wasting excess nutrients. Excess soil nutrients can easily be relocated to bodies of water when storm water washes it downstream.

Homeowners have several types of fertilize from which to choose for use on their lawn. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Dry blend fertilizer is usually the least expensive and is easy to find in the market place. It is a mixture of minerals and compounds which are combined to produce a particular analysis, such as 10-10-10.

This analysis is ten percent nitrogen, ten percent phosphorus, and ten percent potassium with the remaining 70 percent being micronutrients and inert carrier. Applied correctly, it can be effective at delivering the needed nutrients.

It is most effective when applied several times throughout the growing season. The grass and shrubs will then have a continuous supply of the needed nutrients over time.

Soil test kit available from your local Extension office. Photo: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

One potential problem with dry blend fertilizer is the particle size of the different nutrients. If irregular, they can separate during transportation to the retailer.

This can be easily corrected by the homeowner. Just pour the contents of the bag into a container and mix using a can or shovel.

Dry slow-release fertilizers are gaining popularity, but they are more expensive. They have a sulfur or polymer coating on the particles which allows for the slow release of the nutrients.

A single application can last for up to six months which frees the homeowner to pursue other activities. The most common use of this product is with shrubs and potted plants.

Liquid fertilizer concentrates are available, but the convenience comes at a high cost. It is easily diluted for use, but uniform application over a large area can be challenging.

No matter which form is used, proper application will grow good results. A healthy and well maintained lawn and landscape leave more time for other springtime pursuits.

To learn more about the fertilizer for your landscape, contact your county agent and refer to this section on our website devoted to lawn fertilization.

 

 

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Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/15/plan-before-fertilizing-a-lawn/

Monitoring for Common Lawn Insects

Spittlebug damage on centipedegrass. Photo credit: Larry Williams UF/IFAS

Mole crickets, chinch bugs and spittlebugs are common lawn insect pests to begin watching for this time of year.

Mole crickets can be active in lawns spring through fall, but the best window of opportunity to control them is in June and July.

Soap flushing is a technique to survey for mole crickets. Mix two ounces of liquid dishwashing soap in two gallons of water and apply with a sprinkling can to four square feet of turf in several areas where mole crickets are suspected. If an average of two to four mole crickets appear on the surface within several minutes, then a treatment is probably needed.

Chinch bugs only damage St. Augustinegrass. So if your lawngrass is something other than St. Augustine, don’t worry about this insect.

Damage from chinch bugs tends to begin in April. However, they are more likely to be active during warmer summer months through early fall in the more sunny areas of the yard, particularly if it’s dry.

Inspect a St. Augustinegrass lawn weekly during spring, summer and fall. Look for areas that quickly turn yellow and then straw brown. Part the grass at the margin of the yellowed areas and closely examine the soil surface and base of the turf for tiny insects. Immature chinch bugs are pink to red and are about the size of a pinhead. The adults are only 1/8 inch long and black with white wings.

Spittlebugs attack all turfgrass species but centipedegrass is their favorite. The first generation of adult spittlebugs is abundant in June and the peak population usually occurs in August to early September.

An early sign of spittlebug activity are masses of white, frothy spittle found in the turf. Each piece of spittle contains one immature spittle bug. Infested turf turns yellow and eventually brown. Damage resembles chinch bug injury but usually first appears in shady areas. Closer inspection reveals discolored individual grass blades with cream colored and pinkish-purple streaks running the length of individual blades. As the population builds, the ¼ inch long adults are abundant. As you walk through or mow an infested area, numerous adult spittlebugs fly short distances when disturbed. Adults are black with two orange transverse stripes across their wings.

Correct lawn management can minimize many pest problems. If a pesticide becomes necessary to control a lawn pest, be sure to follow the product’s label instructions and precautions.

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Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/13/monitoring-for-common-lawn-insects/

Get Those Fairies Off My Lawn!

Get Those Fairies Off My Lawn!

A type III fairy ring. Photo Credit: Alex Bolques, Assistant Professor, Florida A&M University

Mushrooms often are grouped in a circle in your lawn.  This is due to the circular release of spores from a central mushroom. “Fairy Ring” is a term used to describe this phenomenon. Fairy rings can be caused by multiple mushroom species such as Chlorophyllum spp., Marasmius spp., Lepiota spp., Lycoperdon spp., and other basidiomycete fungi.

Occurrence

Fairy rings most commonly invade your yard during the summer months, when the Florida panhandle receives the most rain. The mushrooms cause the development and spread of the rings by the release of spores. Spores produce more mushrooms and are similar to the seed produced by plants.

Fairy Ring “Types”

Fairy rings can be seen in three forms:

  1. Type I rings have a zone of dead grass just inside a zone of dark green grass. Weeds often invade the dead zone.
  2. Type II rings have only a band of dark green turf, with or without mushrooms present in the band.
  3. Type III rings do not exhibit a dead zone or a dark green zone, but a ring of mushrooms is present.

The size and fill of rings varies considerably. Rings are often 6 ft or more in diameter. The fill of a ring can range from a quarter circle to a semicircle or full circle.

Cultural Controls

The rings will disappear naturally, but it could take up to five years. Although it is possible to dig up the fairy ring sites, it is a good possibility the rings will return if the food source (buried, rotting wood or other organic matter) for the fungi is still present underground.

In some situations, the fungi coat the soil particles and make the soil hydrophobic (meaning it repels water), which will result in rings of dead grass. If the soil under this dead grass is dry but the soil under healthy grass next to it is wet, then it is necessary to aerate or break up the soil under the dead grass with a pitchfork or other cultivation tool.

Rings of dead turf due to fairy ring fungi. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

Chemical Controls

Effective fungicides include products containing the active ingredients azoxystrobin, flutolanil, metconazole, pyraclostrobin, and triticonazole.

Fungicides inhibit the fungus only. They do not eliminate the dark green or dead rings of turfgrass and do not solve the dry soil problem.

A homeowner’s guide to lawn fungicides can be found at the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) website (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/document_pp154).

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/20/get-those-fairies-off-my-lawn/

Choosing a Lawn Maintenance Comapny

Choosing a Lawn Maintenance Comapny

UF/IFAS File Photo

Lawns in northwest Florida are really starting to get going early this year. It is early March but feels much later in the year and many feel behind on their lawn maintenance and various other landscape chores. Maybe it is time to think about hiring a lawn maintenance company to do the job for you. Keep in mind a few tips while trying to decide which company you will hire.

  1. Lawn Maintenance and Landscape companies are NOT required to have a “professional license” in order to operate their business. This means anyone can start a lawn maintenance company whether they have experience or not. All it takes is a quick visit to the tax collectors office to get a tax receipt. This fact should make you want to go the extra mile to be sure you receive excellent service.

    Photo Credits: UF/IFAS File Photo

  2. Make sure the company chosen has the proper amount of liability insurance.
  3. There are licenses required for specific services, such as applying fertilizers or pesticides. Check with the company to be sure that the pesticide or fertilizer applicator will be properly licensed to do the job required. Here is a list of licenses to be aware of while choosing a lawn service:
  4. Receive several quotes from different companies to compare pricing structures and rates. Ask for a very detailed quote. Communicate your needs accurately. Some companies will be better suited for a simple “mow and blow” job while others specialize in a full service job.
  5. Interview the company and be sure they follow University of Florida recommended mowing heights, fertilization rates, etc.* Quiz them on the subject to be sure they are familiar with properly maintaining landscapes.

There are a lot of really good Landscape and Lawn Maintenance professionals working in Northwest Florida. If you take some time while searching you will find a really good company who can help with beautifying your lawn and landscape.

 

*Call your local extension office to get the recommended mowing heights, fertilization rates, etc.

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Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/09/choosing-a-lawn-maintenance-comapny/

There Is Still Time To Prevent Spring Lawn Weeds

There Is Still Time To Prevent Spring Lawn Weeds

Photo caption: Purple nut sedge is dormant, but quite alive and waiting for warm weather. The best hope for control is to use a pre-emergent herbicide in late February to early March which will prevent this exotic invasive plant from germinating.

Now that March is here the lawn becomes less of an abstraction and more reality.
The lawnmower is no longer silent, meaninglessly taking up space as the grass wakens from its seasonal stupor. Alas, the dormant state has ended as the days are already getting slightly longer.
There is still time to get started with preparations for the ideal spring lawn of 2017. Weather is getting warmer, there is plenty to do.
In addition to doing a soil test, mentioned in previous week’s articles, an accurate weed assessment is also necessary. Though not green and conquering new territory, some of the weeds remain with seed still attached and awaiting distribution.
If the seed are still on the plants, clip the seed pods or remove the plants with the seed intact. Dispose of these properly and do not give them a chance to spread and germinate.
Two notable culprits are nondescript lying dormant  waiting for the return of warm, sunny weather. Purple nut sedge and chamberbitter still have countless nutlets and seeds connected to the parent plant.
Purple nut sedge, Cyperus rotundus, grows from every possible sunny location with soil.  This non-native plant is a rapidly spreading perennial which will take every opportunity to colonize new locations.
The identifier purple is in its name because there is a purple-tinged section of this sedge where it emerges from the ground.  The plant is sometimes referred to as purple nut grass because of its long narrow leaves and its erect growth pattern originating from a nutlike basal bulb.
Chamberbitter, Phyllantus urinaria, is an annual with produces great quantities of seed on the underside of its leaf stems. It will handle full sun or partial shade and quickly form cluster of plants, each contribution seed to the soil.
Areas in the lawn identified as having severe infestations should be marked now for treatment in the near future with a pre-emergent herbicide. This type of herbicide prevents the seed from germinating in the spring.
Purple nut sedge concentrations should be sprayed in late February to early March, and chamberbitter in April since these pest species germinate at different times.
Another winter task is to prepare for seeding bare spots in the lawn. Reading the seed tag attached to the bag should help make the product selection much easier.
Check to confirm the seed has been tested for germination within the year. Also, be sure the grass seed species will grow in Florida.
Sometime generic lawn seed mixes will contain fescue, bluegrass, orchard grass and others turf types which will not grow in north Florida. While they may germinate, their use will only ensure weeds get established for another year.
Lastly, sharpen the lawnmower blade. When the warm weather arrives the mower will be frequently used, but at least the neighbors will be envious of the great green lawn.
To learn more about lawn grasses, contact your UF/IFAS Extension Office.

 

 

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Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/03/there-is-still-time-to-prevent-spring-lawn-weeds/

Why A One Size Fits All Approach to Lawn Care is a Bad Idea

Regardless of what the tag says one size does not fit all. As with clothing, a piece will undoubtedly be too large for some and too small for others. Trying to go with a “one size fits all” approach to lawn care will lead to the same kind of frustration and disappointment as an ill-fitting garment.

All turfgrass is not created equal. Thus management of our various turf species requires different methods. It is common for a homeowner to be unaware of what type of turfgrass they have – it’s all grass after all – what difference does it make? Misidentification leads to problems because proper management for one type may be counterproductive to another type. In order to create a practical turf management plan, it is critical that the species of grass is properly identified.

Although many grasses look similar it is important to know exactly what kind you have to maintain it properly. This photo shows Empire Zoysia. Photo credit: Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS

Why is it important to know the species of turf in a lawn?

Two of the most common mistakes extension agents observe is excessively low mowing height of St. Augustinegrass  and over-fertilizing Centipedegrass. Both of these errors can reduce turfgrass vigor and decrease its tolerance to pest issues. Another potential maintenance pitfall is using a herbicide that is not labeled for use on a given type of turfgrass. Several popular herbicides available on the market can cause damage to St. Augustinegrass and/or Centipedegrass.  Thus turf can be inadvertently killed by herbicides when they are applied to the wrong species.

Before a lawn maintenance plan is developed, be sure to know what type of grass is present and then follow UF/IFAS recommendations for proper care. If assistance is needed with identification, contact your local extension office.

To learn more about lawn care, visit this site or plan to attend “Caring for Your Florida Lawn” at the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County office on April 8th. For more details call 850-784-6105.

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Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/23/why-a-one-size-fits-all-approach-to-lawn-care-is-a-bad-idea/

How to Water to Establish a Lawn

How to Water to Establish a Lawn

MICROIRRIGATION - Image Credit UF/IFAS Extension

MICROIRRIGATION – Image Credit UF/IFAS Extension

When watering to establish a lawn or when renovating (redoing, patching, reestablishing, starting over, etc.) a lawn, we normally call for 2-3 “mists” throughout the day for the first 7-10 days until roots get established. These are just 10 minute bursts. Then back off to once a day for about ½ hour for 7-10 days. Then go to 2-3 times a week for about 7 days. By then your lawn should be established.

If we are experiencing adequate rainfall, you may not need to irrigate. Rain counts. But in the absence of sufficient rain, you’ll need to provide enough water at the correct time to allow your new sod to root – hence, the above directions.

A well designed and correctly installed irrigation system with a controller, operated correctly, helps to achieve uniform establishment. It can be difficult or impossible to uniformly provide sufficient water to establish a lawn with hose-end sprinklers, especially if the lawn is sizeable and during dry weather. Most people are not going to do the necessary job of pulling hoses around on a regular basis to result in a well-established lawn.

Too much water will result in rot, diseased roots and diseased seedlings and failure. Too little water will result in the sod, seedlings, sprigs or plugs drying excessively and failure to establish. The end result at best is a poorly established sparse lawn with weeds. Or complete failure.

There is no substitute or remedy for incorrect irrigation when establishing a brand new lawn or when renovating an entire lawn or areas within a lawn.

It would be wise to not invest the time and money if the new lawn cannot be irrigated correctly. Taking the gamble that adequate (not too much, not too little) rainfall will occur exactly when needed to result in a beautiful, healthy, thick, lush lawn is exactly that – a gamble.

An irrigation system is nothing more than a tool to supplement rainfall. As much as possible, learn to operate the irrigation controller using the “Manual” setting.

The above schedule should help when planting a lawn from seed, sprigs, plugs or sod.

For additional information on establishing and maintaining a Florida lawn, contact your County UF/IFAS Extension Office or visit http://hort.ufl.edu/yourfloridalawn.

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Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/22/how-to-water-to-establish-a-lawn/

Does Your Lawn Guy Need a License?

If your lawn and landscape care professional applies fertilizer as a part of his/her services, then the answer is yes. Since January 2014, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has required that all commercial fertilizer applicators have a Limited Fertilizer License.

UF/IFAS File Photo.

UF/IFAS File Photo.

So what does FDACS define as a fertilizer? You may be surprised at what is considered a fertilizer under the statute that governs this license. The following are included:

  • Lawn or landscape fertilizers
  • Organic fertilizers
  • Any product that contains plant nutrients including compost
  • Lime and all other products that influence soil acidity/alkalinity
  • Substances that promote plant growth
  • Any other substance that provides a soil corrective measure

In order to obtain this license, lawn care professionals attend a science-based training session called Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMPs) that teach environmentally friendly landscaping practices in order to protect Florida’s water quality. These practices also save the homeowner money, time, and effort; increase the health and beauty of the home landscape; and protect the health of your family, pets, and the environment. The training is led by UF/IFAS Extension professionals. Attendees must pass a post-training exam and then can receive a license valid for 4 years.

In order to check whether your lawn care professional has a Limited Fertilizer License, check the FDACS site here. Every applicator must have his/her individual license.

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/19/does-your-lawn-guy-need-a-license/

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