Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lawn Care for the Fall

A few years ago, we did have our soil tested by the local Cooperative Extension Service and this is their recommendation for the high maintenance of St. Augustine grass for our yard in north east Florida and this is the last fertilization for the year, the fall feeding.

The Extension Office recommendation is to use a "complete fertilizer" at 1.0 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq.ft. for the September lawn care.  The most important aspect of fertilization is to know how many square feet will be covered and the only way to find that out is by measuring the yard so that we will know how much fertilizer to buy.  We stake out our yard in twelve foot swaths using tent pegs and flags as markers.

We are using a fertilizer consisting of 30% nitrogen, 0% phosphorous, 3% potash, and the rest is filler.  Some recommend that the potash match the nitrogen and it is believed that there is enough phosphorous in the ground already. Putting down additional potash is costly and maybe not worth it.

Now, I have to remember that I only have 33% of actual "fertilizer"--the rest is filler; so, if I had a 100 lb bag, I only have 33 lbs of fertilizer (30-0-3).  Therefore, I have to figure the square footage and then I need 1.0 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft.  (The nitrogen is the first number.)  Go ahead, do the math!  In this case, it means that I need 3.3 lbs of fertilizer per 1000 sq. ft.

We use a hand held spreader that covers a 12 foot wide swath and we walk back and forth in a steady pace to distribute the poundage of fertilizer/nitrogen.  We weigh the fertilizer using a simple household scale.  When one section is done, we continue to the next section that has been measured and staked out.  The tent pegs or flags serve as guide (so that we know where we have been and where we are going).

We strongly recommend that this fertilizer be kept in a dry place, preferably inside, or it will absorb the moisture from the air (believe it or not) and turn rock hard.

When we do use the fertilizer, it is free of herbicides and pesticides.  We do not want to destroy the dollar weed and violets nor kill the bugs, small grasshoppers and white flies.

We take care not to get the fertilizer onto the street to prevent it from being washed away into the drain and the watershed.  We also have the city's right of way between us and the scenic creek that does not get fertilized; it serves as a buffer.

Finally, we check the weather forecast.  We don't want the heavy rain to come and wash it away but we usually water the lawn after fertilization.

A gardener's work is never done.
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