A lawn is great to look at, but it’s a science to maintain! Our clients have a lot of questions about how to keep their lawns green and healthy — and there are a lot of factors that go into what looks like a simple green carpet. There’s the grass type, the watering amount and schedule, the mowing requirements, pest problems, reseeding/replanting, and, of course…fertilizing.
We have many years of experience working with our clients to keep their lawns looking beautiful — let's talk about the best time to fertilize your Florida panhandle turfgrass.
Let’s start with the basics. You have grass, soil and water (and a good irrigation system, when necessary). Why do you need fertilizer too? Basically, it’s plant food to help your lawn stay healthy, grow strong and give it needed nutrients.
The soil provides some nutrients, but not usually all it needs. Proper fertilization allows for deeper root growth and leaf or grass blade growth, and it reduces weeds and helps the lawn recover from pest damage or environmental stresses.
When Is The Best Time To Fertilize Your Lawn In the Florida Panhandle?
The most common grass in the Florida panhandle area is centipede grass, according to The University of Florida IFAS Extension. The first fertilization should take place in mid-April, with another two applications in the summer and early fall, the last one no later than mid-September. This fertilization season provides the needed nutrients during the active grass growth phase.
Some areas in Florida prohibit lawn fertilization during the summer months, with concern that the nutrients will leach into the water system during the state’s potentially heavy rains. If you live in one of these areas, the University of Florida Extension recommends using a long-term controlled release fertilizer in late May, before the summer restrictions start.
The Best Time To Fertilize — And When To Avoid It
If you're wondering the best time to fertilize, remember it's just as important to know when not to do it.
In the Florida panhandle, grasses tend to be more dormant in the winter months. During winter, the grass isn’t as able to take in the needed nutrients, so it make sense to avoid applying fertilizers at this time.
Hold off on fertilizing if your area is expecting heavy rains of two or more inches, or a tropical storm is expected in the next 24 hours. You want to make sure the fertilizer has a chance to get into the soil and root systems, not get washed away.
Also, if you just planted new turfgrass, the University of Florida Extension recommends waiting 30 to 60 days before using nitrogen fertilizer. The young roots aren’t deep enough to really absorb the nutrients, and the soil from the sod farm may already have nutrients in place. (If you're working with a professional landscaping company, they'll know when to fertilize based on when your turfgrass is planted — GreenEarth can work with you to create a comprehensive landscape maintenance program.)
The Science Behind Fertilizer
While this is an extensive topic for another blog post, using the right mix and the right quantity of fertilizer is important — in addition to paying attention to the best time to fertilize — and should be researched before applying.
The Goldilocks’ mantra of avoiding extremes applies here too. Make sure not to apply too much fertilizer, nor too little. Either can cause problems with your lawn’s growth, health and appearance. Plus, too much fertilizer can harm the environment, with nutrient run-off into the water system and ecosystem. Looking for guidance? This is where a landscaping company that provides lawn fertilization service and other lawn care comes in.
If you’d like to learn more about proper lawn care, reach out to the professionals at GreenEarth Landscape Services. Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.