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3 Smart Lawn-Care Tips

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Lawn care can be time consuming, but it doesn't have to be. Avoid pesticides, plant native vegetation and make your lawn draught-resistant. To ensure the grass is always greener on your side of the fence, try these three smart Florida lawn-care tips.

1. Water By Rain

Certain parts of Florida are hotter and drier than others, so draught-tolerant landscaping is best for these areas. Prepare the lawn so that it can withstand times of draught with little water. Watering by natural rain is best, but not always possible given the watering day and/or time restrictions placed by municipalities. A good rule of thumb is to water when footprints on the grass are visible. Water deeply (less than 1 inch) early in the morning, when water is less likely to evaporate. A deep watering once a week (twice a week if especially hot) grows deeper roots and grasses that are better able to withstand heat and draught.

2. Aim For High

Hopefully, the right grasses were planted for your area of Florida. Mow less often to allow the grass to get high, with the height depending on the type of grass. Taller grass allows a more extensive root system to grow underground, which makes the grass more resistant to drought, especially needed in southern Florida. Mowed too short and the root system will be shallow as all the plant's energy is put into growing new leaf blades. Mow your grass to the right height. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences suggests grasses be mowed to these heights: Burmuda at 0.75 to 1.5 inches, Centipedia at 1.5 to 2 inches, St. Augustine at 2.5 to 4 inches, Bahia at 3 to 4 inches. Heat-tolerant zoysia grass should be mowed from 1.5 to 3 inches tall.

3. Compost For Health

Compost is a natural way to enrich and thicken the lawn while chemicals fertilizers can wreak havoc with the ecosystem. Grasses need a lot of nitrogen. Coffee grounds, corncobs, crushed eggshells, leafy plant trimmings, and hair make great nitrogen-rich compost. Aerate the soil with a machine or hire a landscaper before applying to ensure the nutrients go down to the roots.

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