The Importance Of Fertilization Of Your Southwest Florida Lawn

Category: Fertilizing

Southwest FloridaFertilization is one of the key management practices in establishing and maintaining healthy, actively growing turfgrass. The desires of the individual lawn owner or turfgrass manager often dictate the level of fertility management.

Keep Your Lawn Healthy

Due to environmental concerns, some think that less fertilization is always best for Southwest Florida lawn maintenance, but research shows that fewer nutrients are lost from the surface and leached through a healthy, well-maintained turfgrass than an unhealthy, sparsely established turfgrass.

The importance of proper irrigation during fertilization cannot be overemphasized. Excessive irrigation after fertilization may cause leaching, and a lack of irrigation may result in fertilization inefficiency. Don’t fertilize during a heavy rainfall.

Some of the most important BMPs for turfgrass fertilization are as follows:

  • The maintenance of healthy, actively growing turfgrass minimizes the environmental impact of fertilizer and pesticide application.
  • It is important to become proficient in reading and understanding the fertilizer label.
  • It is also important to become knowledgeable in soil sampling procedures and soil test interpretation.
  • The rate and timing of N fertilization depends on the turfgrass species, season of the year, level of maintenance desired, source of N applied, and location in the state.
  • When fertilizing (other than when watering restrictions apply), you should irrigate with ¼ inch of water following fertilization to avoid the loss of nitrogen and increase uptake efficiency. If water restrictions apply, you may irrigate as you are allowed, but more than ½ inch may cause some nitrogen to be leached past the root zone.
  • In most cases, greater attention to P fertilization should be directed to the establishment phase of the turfgrass than the routine maintenance phase.
  • P application should be limited to soils that require additional P based soil testing.
  • In most cases, Fe and/or Mn can be used to enhance turfgrass color on soils having a pH greater than 7.0.

Fertilizing Grass For Establishment Or Recovery

Establishment and recovery are special situations. The goal is to get the environmental benefits of a solid cover of turfgrass as quickly as possible and this may require Southwest Florida lawn fertilization above what established turf requires. N and K are used to promote a thick, vigorous stand of turf. Use P when a soil test indicates there is a need. The BMP for retaining nutrients on the lawn is a dense stand of turf.

The following should be considered when fertilizing grass for establishment or recovery:

  • N rates should be adjusted to meet the needs of the turf.
  • Weakened turf can be stimulated back to health by N fertilization.
  • Newly established turf often requires a different fertility schedule to grow and develop a dense stand. Both rates and timing may be different.
  • Soluble fertilizer may be necessary to provide a rapid response on weakened turf.
  • Lower total rates of soluble fertilizer can produce desired turf improvement when applied frequently.
  • Fe and Mn can be used to supplement lower rates of soluble fertilizer. Micronutrients provide an initial color response, while soluble N thickens the turf and improves root development.
  • Slow – release fertilizer may be an advantage when nutrients cannot be applied frequently.
  • There is no significant difference between liquid or dry applications. Turfgrasses take up N in the form of nitrate and ammonium, and all dry fertilizers have to be dissolved by water before they benefit the turf. In terms of BMPs for environmental protection, the proper application of fertilizer is generally more important than the type of product.
  • New sod typically does not require fertilizer until it has firmly rooted into soil. This usually occurs in about one month. Plugs can be fertilized at the time of installation to encourage the runners to spread. A quick, complete ground cover is the ultimate goal.


Comparison of lawngrasses available for use in Florida

Enviroment Bahia Grass Bermuda Grass Centipede Grass Seashore Paspalum St. Augustine Grass St. Augustine “dwafts” Zoysia Grass
Area Adapted To Statewide Statewide North Fl. And Panhandle Statewide Statewide Statewide Statewide
Moving height (inches) 3-4 0.5-1.5 1-2 1-2 3-4 1.5-2.5 1-3
Soil Acid, Sandy Wide Range Acid-Infertile Wide Range Wide Range Wide Range Wide Range
Leaf Texture Coarse-Medium Fine-Medium Medium Fine – Medium Course-Medium Medium Fine – Medium
Drought Tolerance Good Good Medium Good Medium Medium Medium
Salt Tolerance Very Poor Good Poor Excellent Good Good Good
Shade Tolerance Poor Poor Fair Poor Fair-Good Good Good
Wear Tolerance Poor Good-Excellent Poor Good-Excellent Poor Poor Good-Excellent
Nematode Tolerance Very Good Poor Poor Good Good Good Poor
Maintenance Level Low Medium-High Low Medium Medium Medium High
Uses Lawns, Roadsides Athletic, Fields, Golf Lawns Lawn, Athletic Fields, Golf Lawns Lawns Lawns
Establishment Methods Seed, Sod Sod, Sprigs, Plugs, Some Seed Seed, Sod, Sprigs, Plugs Sod, Plugs, Sprigs Sod, Plugs, Sprigs Sod, Plugs, Sprigs Sod, Plugs, Sprigs

If you are looking for a Southwest Florida lawn maintenance specialist, please call us today at 239.303.0821 or complete our online service request form.