Keep Your Florida Lawn Green In January
January 7, 2014
Avoiding Lawn Fungus
Everyone wants a beautiful, green, thick lawn in South Florida. With hundreds of sunny days every year, Floridians love spending time in their yards. But what happens when your beautiful, tropical landscape starts getting brown spots?
Fungus is especially prevalent in South Florida lawns during the winter months. Fungus does not survive well in temperatures above 80 degrees, so during most of the year fungus is not a problem. But when temperatures cool in January and February, fungus often becomes a major problem in South Florida yards. There are two common symptoms of turfgrass disease. One is a circular patch of turfgrass, either small or large, that is no longer uniformly green. The second is turf that has spots on its leaves. If disease patches are present, examine the leaves and roots in these patches for disease symptoms. The best time to observe fungal mycelia is in the early morning when dew is still present. Mycelia look similar to white cotton. If mycelia is present, your lawn needs to be treated with a fungicide.
While fungal issues in the lawn are treatable, prevention is always your best option. Doing a preventative fungus treatment is possible, but is only effective if you know exactly what type of fungus your lawn is susceptible to. The best course of prevention is to maintain a strong, healthy turfgrass. Here are three critical elements of maintaining a healthy, fungus resistant lawn.
Mowing: The most common and frequent form of lawn maintenance is mowing, yet it can do an incredible amount of damage when done improperly. Make sure your mower blades are sharp so that they give the blades of grass a clean cut rather than tear and hack at the grass. You should also be careful not to cut the grass too short. Turfgrass cut below its optimal height becomes stressed and is more susceptible to disease. When any disease is present in turfgrass, raise the cutting height to avoid stressing the grass.
Watering Habits:The amount of water and timing of application can either prevent or contribute to fungus. Water your lawn only when it is thirsty. You can tell that grass needs water if when you step on it, the blades of grass spring back very slowly or not at all. Watering should be done between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. allowing 45 minutes of watering to each section of your lawn. This allows the water to reach the grasses’ roots and also allows the lawn to dry out during the day.
Nutrition: Similar to humans, if plants do not receive the proper nutrients they are more prone to disease. In the case of grass fungus, you want to have a fertilization balance of nitrogen and potassium. It is important to remember that potassium and nitrogen both readily leach, so it is best to use slow-release sources. Fertilization can be complicated and can seriously harm local bodies of water when applied incorrectly, so when in doubt, call the experts!
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