What are the best practices for maintaining Florida lawns?
Mowing your lawn at the correct frequency and cutting height is a basic foundation of lawn maintenance and is essential to achieving a dense, luscious, healthy lawn. The main deciding factors of when to mow and at what height to cut your grass depend heavily on which region of Florida you live, turf-grass species, and the quality of lawn you would like to achieve. I've outlined some recommendations you can follow below for areas like Pensacola, Pace, Milton, and Gulf Breeze, Florida.
When Should I Mow My Lawn?
In the southern region of Florida, where the climate is mostly hot, sunny, humid, and rarely drops below freezing temperatures, you will likely be mowing your grass at regular weekly intervals year-round to keep your lawn healthy. The northern region in Florida's panhandle (Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Pace, and Milton) has a slightly cooler climate during the winter. These areas can see freezing temperatures for several days, which aren't suitable for mowing, adding additional stress on your lawn. However, weekly or mowing every 10-days during spring, summer, and fall I recommend. And you guessed it, the state's central region falls right in the middle.
If the temperatures decide to stay on the warmer side one year, you're going to be maintaining a regular mowing schedule and vice versa; you may need to skip a few weeks. Lastly, the golden standard for deciding when to trim is to make sure you never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade height at each mowing. i.e., If your optimal height is 2 inches, make sure you mow when the grass has grown to 3 inches.
What's the correct height of mowing my grass?
You might think putting your mower in the lowest setting is the way to go; common sense says you wouldn't have to mow as often, but that's not a good idea at all. So, how do you know the best cutting height for your lawn? Acceptable, narrow leaf blade grass types that grow horizontally, such as centipede grass, do best with a lower mowing height ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches due to numerous grass blades and slower growth. Letting it get too high can lead to disease and thatch buildup. On the other hand, thick, coarse, and broadleaf blade types that grow vertically, such as St. Augustine, require a higher mowing height ranging from 3 to 5 inches. Mowing this type of grass too short or often called "scalping" can severely damage the grass due to the lack of green leaf for getting proper sunlight. It also can create a thick layer of thatch because of the thick, coarse, wide blades; it chokes out the grass from getting the sunshine it needs to thrive and leaves it susceptible to weeds, disease, and pests.
How Do I Maintain A Quality Looking Lawn?
Getting your lawn to be perfect might seem like a daunting task with so many variables like weather, learning your grass type, calculating when and what height to mow. Most homeowners can achieve great results through the right amount of effort, time, and practice. Maybe you don't care about having a perfect quality lawn; you need to maintain it and keep it healthy. Well, if you are off a day or two on the frequency or you mowed a 1/2 inch short, chances are, as long as you don't stray too far off from these tips, you can still enjoy a quality lawn. Maybe not that excellent quality lawn like a finely manicured golf course but, still enjoyable. There are also some excellent resources available to help. We are available at TRAVIS LAWNCARE to help with all your Lawncare needs. There is also an abundance of information at the University of Florida/ IFAS Website that's super helpful. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP236
Other tips -make sure your blades are sharp on your mower -change directions of your mowing pattern every 2 or 3 mows -avoid mowing when the grass is wet if possible.