Your Florida Lawn – North Florida Lawns

Welcome to Your Florida Lawn! The environmentally friendly way to grow
and to sustain a Florida-Friendly landscape. Your host is Dr. Laurie Trenholm,
Residential Turfgrass specialist with the University of Florida’s
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Join Laurie and her special guests
as they offer tips and solutions to maintaining a Florida-Friendly Lawn! Northwest Florida is a wonderful place to live.
With its diversity in soils, climate and growing season, it does vary from
much of the rest of the state of Florida. With us here today is Dr. Bryan Unruh
from the University of Florida’s West Florida Research and Education Center,
he’s one of our turfgrass specialists for the state. So Bryan, what grasses are well suited
for home lawn use in this part of the state? Dr. Unruh: Well, the predominant
long grasses that we grow here, of course, are St. Augustine grass,
Bahia grass, a little bit of Zoysiagrass, and as we have behind us
in this subdivision here, Centipede grass. Laurie: North Florida has different climatic
and soil conditions than the rest of Florida and this alters the growing conditions
that the lawns have to deal with. Most of our warm season grasses
can adapt to North Florida conditions, but one grass that will do very well in North Florida
and is used quite a bit is Centipede grass. Laurie: So Bryan, we’re looking at
some Centipede grass here and this is the predominant grass
used in Northwest Florida. Tell us a little bit about it. Dr. Unruh: Well, Centipede grass is often
described as the Poor Man’s grass and that’s just simply because it doesn’t take
a whole lot to make a nice looking lawn. Laurie: So you don’t want to over-manage it
with too many chemicals or too much fertilizer? Dr. Unruh: That’s correct. Typical of this is,
if you drive through a neighborhood, if you see a nice dark lush green
Centipede grass lawn, you can bet that
they’re putting too much into the lawn. Laurie: So how should we fertilize this grass? When should we apply fertilizer and
how much do we want to be applying? Dr. Unruh: Well, the general rule of thumb
on Centipede grass is to not apply fertilizer before,
say Income Tax Day, around April 15th. That allows us to get past
those green and brown green-ups that we have so oftentimes
in the spring here. Laurie: And then do you need to fertilize again
during the middle of the summer or are there are other tactics you might use? Dr. Unruh: We really don’t need
another complete fertilizer, something that has nitrogen,
phosphorous and potassium until maybe later in the summer, a little bit. Laurie: Okay and when should our last
fertilization application go out? Dr. Unruh: Well, my recommendation in the
North Florida region and really, across the Florida Panhandle,
is to not apply fertilizer after about the mid to late September timeline, unless you’re putting down more
of a potassium product which just allows us to have a little bit of a push
through the winter months. Laurie: But you don’t want to be applying
a nitrogen-based fertilizer too late in the year? Dr. Unruh: That is correct.
That just leads to a lot of winter kill and a lot of what we call Centipede decline,
which looks good in the fall, but the next spring,
we see these big dead patches in the lawn. Laurie: And the Centipede grass decline is actually
triggered by too much nitrogen over time? Dr. Unruh: That’s correct. Over-management,
when we tend to put too much fertilizer on, improper mowing, improper watering,
all of it leads to a decline of the turf and in the spring, you’re very
disappointed with what you do. So typically, most homeowners will tend
to put more on trying to fix those problems, which just actually causes
this whole thing to spiral down. Laurie: So just be aware that this is going
to be a slightly lighter green color that some of the other
turf grasses that we have? Dr. Unruh: Yes. Genetically,
Centipede grass is a yellow-green grass. Laurie: What problems with insects
does Centipede grass have? Dr. Unruh: Probably the largest, and this
is just really in the last several years, is an insect called the Twolined Spittlebug. It’s a little black insect
with two red lines on his back and he basically comes along
and he pierces the leaf blade and sucks some of the sap out
and causes the leaf blade basically to die. Laurie: And that can be a problem during
the growing season, during the summer months? Dr. Unruh: Typically during the summer months, especially when we get into those
late afternoon showers that are coming along because this insect really prefers
the moist shaded areas of the lawn. Laurie: So Bryan, what other long grass species
can we use in Northwest Florida? Dr. Unruh: Other grass species, of
course, include St. Augustine, which is our predominant long grass
across the rest of the state of Florida. We typically are going to want
to use a few different varieties, varieties like Raleigh or Palmetto,
those that tend to be more acclimated to the colder weather and the colder climates. And then Zoysiagrass is really starting to make
its impact on our market up in this region as well. Laurie: So Centipede grass can be called
the Poor Man’s grass, fewer chemical inputs, maybe not as nice, as green a lawn,
but you know, that’s not a bad choice. Dr. Unruh: Not a bad choice at all. Laurie: Thanks Dr. Unruh for sharing
your expertise with us on Centipede grass. For the University of Florida IFAS Extension
service and Florida-Friendly Landscaping, I’m Dr. Laurie Trenholm
with Your Florida Lawn. Thank you for joining us
for this segment of Your Florida Lawn. For more information on how to maintain
your Florida-Friendly Landscape, please visit our website or contact your local
University of Florida County Extension office.

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