The 90-degree temperatures may not convince you that fall has arrived in Central Florida, but the calendar sure will. While we don’t typically start to see significant autumn temperature drops until the occasional day or two in October, it’s important to prepare now for taking care of your lawn in the fall. Even the slightest changes in rainfall, sunlight and overall temperatures can affect how well your lawn grows. At Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing, we want to help make sure your lawn and landscaping thrives in all seasons, including the cooler (or less hot than usual) fall and winter. Today, we’re covering whether or not you should use fertilizer, how to keep your grass green in cooler temperatures and how you should mow your lawn.
Should You Use Fertilizer in Fall?
Fertilizer helps your lawn receive the specific nutrients it needs depending on your soil, species of grass and pest control needs. Using fertilizer on your lawn is typically associated with spring and occasionally summer, as these months are when the most rapid growth for your lawn occurs. So, then, should you also fertilize your lawn in the fall? The answer is no. This can seem counterintuitive, since you might feel inclined to use fertilizer as a way to keep your lawn growing in the cooler months. However, fertilizing your lawn past September can cause your grass to actually grow more than it should during the winter, thus becoming more sensitive to the cold and unable to grow properly in the spring and summer months.
Winter Is Coming — How to Keep Green
If you can’t fertilize, then what can you do to keep your Florida lawn vibrant and green in the fall and winter? The Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences from the University of Florida offers a number of helpful tips for cool weather lawn care:
- Lawns with St. Augustine and centipede grass can be susceptible to large patch fungus disease in autumn. You can combat this by avoiding fertilizers with excess nitrogen before fall starts, watering your lawn early in the morning, applying fungicides as needed and scouting for sod webworms.
- Overseeding can be a healthy alternative to fertilizer in the fall for keeping your grass green. You can overseed your lawn by planting a temporary grass that grows well in cooler temperatures over your existing lawn. One common grass for overseeding is ryegrass, which grows best once daytime peak temperatures are in the mid- to low- 70s. Be sure to rake and remove debris for your current lawn and water it frequently after overseeding. Grasses used for overseeding will require fertilizing and lawn care.
- Finally, you can also help your lawn look healthy with the help of turf colorants that safely paint and dye your grass in a similar way to athletic fields and golf courses. These turf colorants are made specifically for grass and to be environmentally-friendly — using paints from the hardware or craft store will be damaging to your grass and the environment.
Cut Carefully in Cold Weather
Since grass doesn’t grow as fast in the fall compared to the spring and summer, you also won’t need to be mowing your lawn as often. Keeping your grass at the right height throughout the fall and winter will help it stay healthy all the way until spring. But, just because your lawn does grow slower doesn’t mean you should neglect mowing it entirely. It’s important to cut carefully in cold weather by allowing your grass to grow just a little bit taller than warmer months. This will protect the roots of the grass from the harshness of cool temperatures. Common Florida lawn grasses like St. Augustine and bahiagrass should be kept at about three-and-a-half to four inches, although some other grasses may be better kept at two to two-and-a-half inches tall.
Central Florida Lawn Care
For more information on keeping your lawn and landscaping beautiful throughout the cooler months, read our previous blog post, “Preparing Your Florida Lawn for Fall.”
Our lawn experts at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing provide professional lawn care and landscaping services throughout Central Florida, including the Seminole County cities of Lake Mary, Longwood and Sanford. We have decades of experience treating Florida lawns for their needs in all seasons, and we would love to treat yours, too! Contact us today to schedule your next lawn care appointment to prepare your lawn for this coming fall season.