If you want your lawn to be lush and healthy, you have to fertilize it properly.
This is because timing is extremely important when it comes to fertilizing your lawn.
So, when to fertilize lawn in Florida? Here’s a step-by-step guide for you.
When to Fertilize Lawn in Florida:
The fertilizing schedule for your lawn depends on different factors. For example:
- Grass type
- Growing zone
We will discuss this in detail. But before moving ahead, here’s something that you should know.
You should fertilize your lawn when your grass is actively growing. This is the time when your grass might need its first mowing.
So, here’s the step-by-step guide to fertilizing your lawn in Florida.
Overview: You should fertilize your lawn in Florida when the grass is actively growing. Warm-season grasses (such as Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, and Zoysia grass) grow in late spring and summer. Moving on to cool-season grasses (such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass), their optimal growing period is in spring and fall.
Step 1: Identify Your Grass Type
This is the first thing that you will do.
In Florida, there are two main types of grasses:
- Warm-season grasses
- Cool-season grasses
As the name suggests, warm-season grasses (popular in Southern parts of the United States) thrive in hot and moist climates.
On the other hand, cool-season grasses do well in cool climates. Now you might be wondering, why is this important.
These five common types of warm-season grasses are popular in Florida (and how you can identify them).
- Centipede grass: It is lighter in colour than other grass types in Florida. It has small blades with pointed tips.
- Bahiagrass: During the growing season, it has thin light to medium green blades.
- Bermuda grass: It has short, thin blades and a grey-green colour. You can identify this grass by its fine texture.
- St. Augustine grass: It has rounded blade tips. Plus, it has broad and coarse leaves.
- Zoysia grass: It has a light green colour. The medium-sized leaf blades have pointed tips.
Note: Your warm-season grass will turn brown after the first frost.
However, cool-season grasses stay green throughout the year. Remember that cool-season grasses cannot survive in extremely high temperatures.
When you have identified your grass type, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Set a Lawn Fertilizer Schedule
The fertilizing schedule for these grasses varies. So, let’s take a look at each of them in detail.
It is warm-season turf grass. This means that its growing season starts in late spring, and continues throughout summer.
The best time to apply fertilizer is a few weeks after “green up“.
Note: The beginning of the growing season is known as “green up”.
You should know that centipede grass DOES NOT need a high amount of fertilizer. You can use a phosphorus-free fertilizer, such as 15-0-15, as too much phosphorus can harm centipede grass.
Point to remember: 15-0-15 is the NPK ratio. NPK shows the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Slow-release fertilizer should not be used more than twice a year (once in mid-spring and then in mid-summer).
Note that it is a heat-tolerant grass that requires a low amount of nutrients. But, you should water it regularly in dry spells.
You will find this grass mostly in South Florida. It can be grown in sandy and acidic soils as well.
This attractive grass is popular in Florida. This is because it requires little maintenance and performs well in warm weather.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of this grass:
|1. Low maintenance is required.||1. It cannot tolerate shady places.|
|2. It is drought tolerant.||2. It does not grow well at high pH.|
|3. It tolerates unfavourable growing conditions.||3. It has big seedheads.|
|4. The plantation is simple.||4. Frequent mowing is required to prevent tall growth.|
You should fertilize the Bahiagrass twice a year with a 15-1-15 slow-release fertilizer.
In central Florida, the first application should take place in early April. In North Florida, it should be done in mid-April.
Now, let’s talk about Bermuda grass.
It is a warm-season grass that is sensitive to cold temperatures.
Bermuda grass produces dense turf. The best part?
It has a high heat and drought tolerance. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of this grass.
|1. It has an excellent heat tolerance.||1. It requires high maintenance.|
|2. It can handle foot traffic.||2. It is not suitable for the Northern parts of Florida.|
|3. It is drought tolerant.||3. It does not tolerate shade.|
You should plan 2-6 fertilizer applications from spring to fall.
If you fertilize too early, there is a danger of late-season frost. In the same way, applying too late is also not recommended.
This takes us straight to the next point.
St. Augustine grass:
St. Augustine grass is extremely popular in Florida. This warm-season grass is tolerant to heat and humidity.
Before talking about this grass in detail, note that it is famous in tropical and subtropical regions. For best results, you have to fertilize this grass regularly.
You should start fertilizing your lawn 3 weeks after the grass turns green in early spring.
The frequency of fertilizer application will depend on the condition of your soil. In general, two fertilizer applications during the growing period are recommended.
Ideally, these two applications should be 2 months apart. If you use a slow-release fertilizer, you can carry out the fertilizer application every 10 weeks.
Now, let me share some advantages of the St. Augustine grass:
- It performs well in high temperatures.
- It has a good salt tolerance.
- It has thick stalks with multiple grass blades.
If I talk about the disadvantages, this grass may lose its color in winter. Plus, it cannot tolerate heavy foot traffic.
Now, let’s talk about zoysia grass.
Zoysia is another warm-season grass that is heat and drought-tolerant.
This attractive grass is common in Florida due to its tolerance to high humidity.
The zoysia grass can turn brown in winter. However, it stays green for more time than the other warm-season grasses.
Note that it requires a good amount of nitrogen and potassium. So, the NPK ratio of 15-0-15, 29-0-3, and 12-4-8 is suitable.
Fertilizer should be applied in 3-6 applications, starting from spring “green up”. If you apply Nitrogen early, frost may damage the grass.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of this grass:
|1. It does not require frequent watering.||1. It loses its color in colder weather.|
|2. It can tolerate heavy foot traffic.||2. It recovers slowly from damage.|
So, here’s the summary:
You should fertilize your lawn in Florida when the grass is actively growing.
Warm-season grasses (such as Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, and Zoysia grass) grow in late spring and summer.
During this time, the temperature is between 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The first application should take place around this time.
The next application should be carried out after the peak summer heat.
Moving on to cool-season grasses (such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass), their optimal growing period is in spring and fall.
As the name suggests, they are adapted to cool climates. So, they should be fertilized when the temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit
The amount of fertilizer depends on the condition of your soil. So, you can read the product label for the best application rates.
With this, let’s move on to the third step.
Step 3: General Fertilizing Guidelines
Fertilizing your lawn can be tricky.
So, here are a few things that you should know.
- Avoid fertilizing your lawn during a drought.
As we discussed earlier, watering your lawn is important after fertilizer application.
This allows the fertilizer to soak into the soil.
- Apply fertilizer to dry grass.
If heavy rain has soaked your lawn, fertilizer application may not be effective.
This is because dry grass ensures that the fertilizer slides down the soil instead of sticking to the blades of your grass.
Finally, you should delay your nitrogen fertilizer applications if your lawn is dormant.
The climate of Florida:
This is a country that experiences different climates. This makes fertilizing your lawn a complex step.
But first of all, let’s look at the temperature of Florida. Here are all the details that you need to know.
- The climate of Florida is what we call the “humid subtropical“.
This simply means that summers are hot and humid, while the winters are cool to mild. In other words, there is a relatively high temperature and precipitation throughout the year.
Note: Precipitation refers to rain, snow or hail.
- The minimum temperature ranges from 32 °C to 35 °C. At night, the temperature ranges from 21℃ to 27℃.
The month of July is the hottest. The average temperature is 28℃.
On the other hand, the month of January is the coldest. The average temperature is around 16℃. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
- You should also know that the maximum temperature in Florida can reach 37℃ to 38℃.
This can happen due to humidity. Now, let me introduce humidity to you.
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air. If there are fewer water vapours in the air, the humidity will be low. Here’s how this affects the temperature.
Note that humid air holds more heat than dry air. So this is the reason why the temperature can go so high.
Quick fact: In 1931 the highest temperature of 42℃ was recorded in Monticello (Florida). Pretty hot, isn’t it?
As I said above, winters in Florida are cold to mild.
Note that the temperature can vary in different cities. Here are some examples for you:
- In the Keys, the average winter temperature is 18℃.
On the other hand, the average temperature in Tallahassee is 5 ℃. But the temperature at night is around 17 ℃.
- On average, there are 8 to 9 days of rainfall in North Florida.
You should also know that there are 6 to 7 days of rainfall (average) centre-south as well. Note that rain is important for grass as it brings the required moisture to the soil.
Are you still wondering, why are winters mild in Florida? The answer is that the predominant tropical easterly winds keep the temperature warm during the winters.
But, Miami experiences a temperature of below 7℃ every few decades.
Quick fact: In 1899 the coldest temperature of -18℃ was recorded in Florida! It is also known as the Great Arctic Outbreak.
As I mentioned above, rainfall can be crucial for your lawn.
It allows more nitrogen to be released. Plus, the rainwater helps to flush the roots, allowing them to take up fresh nitrogen.
- Note that the average precipitation is around 53.7 inches.
There is more precipitation in the warmer months, from June to September.
- In South Florida and the Keys, September is usually the rainiest month.
In the same way, Orlando has the highest precipitation (generally) in June. So you should consider this when planning to fertilize your lawn.
Here is what you need to know.
Sunshine is extremely important as it nurtures your plant or turf (the upper layer of soil consisting of grass).
Note: In fact, Florida is also known as the Sunshine state!
The amount of sunshine is great all around the year. Typically, South Florida receives more sunshine than North. In the same way, different cities receive different amounts of sunshine.
- The area of Miami receives 70% sunshine.
- Tampa receives 66%.
- Pensacola receives 60%
So you have to consider these factors as well before fertilizing your lawn.
Fertilizing your lawn properly is extremely important as it keeps your lawn lush and green.
Therefore, you should add fertilizer at the proper time.
With this, your question “when to fertilize lawn in Florida?” is answered.
To recap, the fertilizing schedule depends on the type of grass. In general, you should only fertilize your lawn when your grass is actively growing.
Now it is your turn. Which part of this topic did you enjoy reading the most? Is it about the climate of Florida? Do let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading and staying with me till the end. Stay tuned for more.