September is here, and fall is on its way! Fall is a little different here in Florida; there’s usually a slight drop in temperature and reduction in humidity, but we don’t get the dramatic change of seasons like our northern neighbors do. When it comes down to it, fall is really just our hurricane season. What we do get, however, is plenty of time to work in our gardens and prepare our lawns for the upcoming seasons.
One of the most important components of a healthy lawn is a proper fertilizing regimen. When developing your fertilizing routine, you need to pay attention not only to the makeup of the fertilizer you use, but also your timing of application. By selecting the right combination of all these factors, you’ll get more bang for your buck and promote verdant, healthy growth without stressing your grass.
Why timing matters when it comes to fertilizer
Fertilizing your grass when it’s dormant, i.e. during the winter, doesn’t do anything for the grass’ health. Ultimately, it’s a waste of your money and time. Not to mention, fertilizer that’s not absorbed by the grass will run off with the wastewater and pollute nearby waterways--not a good situation for humans or animals.
As a rule of thumb, October is the very last time you should fertilize your lawn for the year in Central Florida. Choosing the right time to fertilize in the late summer/early fall months can be difficult since it rains just about every day and you should avoid fertilizing in wet conditions. Give yourself a window of at least 24-36 hours before a heavy rain.
How to choose the right fertilizer
At its most basic, your fertilizer has 3 main components: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, or NPK. To determine how much of each of these nutrients your soil needs, it’s a good idea to test your soil. According to the SWFL Water Management District, many lawns in Florida are naturally high in phosphorus, so you may need to look for a fertilizer without that component.
On the back of every fertilizer bag, you’ll see a list of 3 numbers describing the NPK levels of that particular fertilizer. The SWFL Water Management District recommends looking for a fertilizer where the first and third numbers are equal and the middle number is as low as possible; 12-3-10 and 15-0-15 are two common examples of this.
If you’ve just planted your turf, wait at least 30 to 60 days before you fertilize it. This will give your grass’ roots time to develop so that they can properly absorb nitrogen. You may also want to look into slow-release fertilizer for maximum environmental friendliness: it takes longer to fully distribute all the nutrients but it also lasts longer, helping you avoid excess runoff.
Fertilizing is just one part of keeping your lawn looking fresh and green. Regularly mowing your lawn is another crucial part, and the Longwood parts people at Gator Mower Parts have everything you need to keep your mower in top shape. Give us a call at 407-260-1292 to learn more or schedule a consultation.