It’s that time of year when the warmer weather is drawing us out in the yard—and the lawn seems to be the first thing on the list of chores. Here are few tips to save money and water on your lawn before the heat sets in.
First: Wait a month. Everyone gets the spring itch to get out in the yard and start spreading the love. Studies are showing that lawns are still dormant in March, so you should wait until April to fertilize your lawn. Then you know it is “awake” and ready to take in the fertilizer.
Feeding your lawn early only allows for more of your hard-earned money to wash into the river and storm drains, instead of being absorbed by roots where it belongs. This applies to all fertilizers, slow release and organic—the option we obviously encourage! Also make sure your lawn fertilizer has a very low or zero middle number. This indicates the phosphorous content, which we already have plenty of in our soil naturally in Florida. All the extra phosphorous from fertilizing gets washed into our waterways, causing the nasty algae blooms that negatively affects our river and wildlife.
Once daylight savings time starts, we can technically start watering our lawns twice a week. But that doesn’t mean we should snap on that extra day of water without looking to see if the lawn really needs it. Now’s the time to stop pampering that water-hungry monster and start toughening it up for the long, hot and dry summer ahead.
Your grass will tell you when it’s dry. The leaves will roll and turn a gray-green color. Water deep and make sure your lawn is getting ¾” of water by using a rain gauge or tuna can to measure your irrigation output. Time how long it takes to fill ¾” and set the time on your system accordingly, no more than an hour per zone. This encourages your roots to grow deep and helps train your lawn to be more self-sufficient in dryer times. Water infrequently to force your lawn to go dry between waterings and help make it more drought-tolerant. Add a rain sensor to your irrigation system if you don’t already have one, that way you are not irrigating in the rain. And remember water restrictions are for everyone, even if you’re on a private well or pump.
Remember to get your lawn mower blades sharpened regularly. A clean cut is a healthy cut! Dull blades will rip and tear the grass, leaving it looking frayed and open to disease. Make sure to raise your mower setting because cutting the grass high helps to encourage a deep root system. Also don’t forget to mulch the grass clippings. This is a great way to consistently fertilize the lawn without spending money.
Ultimately by reducing your water and fertilizer usage (and properly maintaining your lawn mower) this will not only help strengthen your lawn but also help your budget!