All across the United States, homeowners winterize their lawns in the fall. But lawns in the Deep South are different. In our local climate, lawns experience different seasons and different changes at different times, and so have different needs. Southwest Florida lawns do require “winterization,” but it is very different than what is recommended on most bags of fertilizer.
The first thing your lawn will need is fertilization. For most areas of the country, most blended bagged fertilizers denoted “winterizer” might as well be called “northern-blend.’ For these colder regions, a high-nitrogen, low-potash (or potassium) blend is commonplace, as it helps keeps the lawn fed and moist during the winter. In Florida, too much nitrogen in the soil will create a lush, moist growth that can lead to insect infestations and patchy discoloration.
So in our area, we recommend using a low-nitrogen, high-potash fertilizer blend at the end of the year that adds stress resistance and will maintain steady growth and healthy-looking grasses.
Winter in Southwest Florida is usually beautiful and quite dry, far drier than our spring and summer months. The dryness combined with cooler nights causes growth to slow, which is normal and fine (and which is why the lawn needs winterizing). It is important to water the lawn occasionally in the winter, so that the lawn will stay healthy and green, and to avoid burnout. It is also important to wait until the lawn needs the water, and to not over-water the lawn.
You can tell the lane needs watering in several ways. First, lawn leaf blades will fold over if dried out. Second, the grass will change color, from green to a blue-gray or even brown. Third, if your footprints remain visible for a while, the grass is dry.
When these signs are visible, apply between 1/2 and one inch of water. Repeat when the lawn again presents signs of dryness, or every couple of weeks, whichever comes first.
Pest and weed control are important, too, but again, there are changes. For weeds, herbicide is not recommended in winter, as it may damage the lawn as much as the weeds. If you do use it, rely only on pre-emergent herbicides, not those that work on existing weeds. If you detect ground pests, it is best to call an expert, like Marathon Pool and Lawn, though there are pest control formulas available at home and garden centers, too.
Following these easy tips will keep your Southwest Florida lawn beautiful and thriving all winter, and give it the strength and nutritionto look great all year long. Or better yet, let us do it all for you.
Call us at 239-834-7529 and we’ll visit and create a plan to make your lawn the best it can be.