On March 17, the Palm Beach Post published an article which stated that 2023 is the 3rd driest year in the last 122 years, and at this point rainfall is 6 inches under the average.
As providers of lawn care services in South Florida, we would like to share best practices from the University of Florida for lawn maintenance to help keep your lawn alive and healthy during this drought.
For St. Augustine grasses, it is best to keep the grass above 3.5 inches in height at all times. This encourages root development and will allow for a greener and more weed-free lawn. While cutting lawns short may provide a clean appearance, it often will kill grass since it will result in an underdeveloped root system, which will allow for the lawn to quickly die when it gets hot and dry out.
We recommend measuring your grass with a ruler if you aren't sure of the height. Our technicians also carry rulers and will add photos to your online account if they notice low mowing. You can login to your online account here.
For irrigation, we recommend a maximum of three days a week in the summer for between 20-60 minutes per zone, depending on how much sun each section of the lawn receives. Your irrigation should ideally be set to run in the early morning hours on the days it runs. Deep, infrequent irrigation allows roots to grow deeper into the soil, which makes the grass more resilient when it is hot and dry out.
If the grass still looks dead or dry in some areas, there is likely a problem with the irrigation coverage. This can happen when dirt gets in a sprinkler head, a shrub blocks the sprinkler head, the pressure is not strong enough, the sprinkler head is not tall enough, the pump has a malfunction, or a sprinkler head gets broken or moved while mowing.
Unfortunately, areas of sod that are completely dead from lack of water will need to be resodded, or these areas will remain brown or come back as areas of uncontrollable grassy weeds.
We recommend having a licensed irrigation company conduct a "wet check" of your system at least twice a year to ensure there are no issues that may prevent water from uniformly reaching all areas of your lawn. Keep in mind that without proper coverage, certain areas of your lawn will never get wet even if you significantly increase the watering days and times.
All of our technicians carry moisture meters and have been trained to check any brown or stressed lawns for lack of moisture and for other issues including lawn-damaging insects, fungus, and weeds. We have also been seeing ornamental shrubs and trees negatively affected by lack of water, which may cause leaf drop and damage.
If the soil underneath shrubs is dry, it is likely irrigation is not hitting that area when it turns on.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office anytime!