Water and a Little Nitrogen
What your lawn needs in February is water and a little nitrogen to boost soil microbial activity. If the water and nitrogen aren’t helping the turf, why bother?
Compost, Compost, Compost
As daylight lengthens and average temperatures rise, the soil temperatures will slowly rise. As the soil temperatures rise, the soil micros – fungi, single cell organisms, worms, bugs, etc - will become increasingly active composting organic and inorganic debris that has collected in the turf canopy over the winter.
With abundant debris, and warmer temperatures, soon there will be an explosion of microbial activity producing an massive amounts of composted material – aka compost.
This compost is the finest of fine plant food for turf. There is nothing better than good compost for your lawn. Everything that collected in the turf canopy over the winter – dust, dirt, pollen, animal waste, leaves, etc. - is composted.
So why water ?
Water is essential to life. Let the soil dry out and the soil microbes die. Dead microbes do not compost. You’re not watering the turf; you are watering the soil. So, water like you were keeping the soil alive.
Warning: I have yet to see any lawn in Pinellas County killed with water – especially with an irrigation system. Ponding and standing water yes, with irrigation no! So, don’t believe the myth that you can kill your lawn by watering it too much. Water as much and as often as law permits and then some. For more info: How to Set Up Your Irrigation System to Keep a St Augustine Lawn Alive with 2x Week Watering Restrictions
So Why a Little Nitrogen?
Organic debris is low in nitrogen and high in carbon. You have a lot of debris, so there is more carbon than nitrogen. Adding a little nitrogen helps balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio in the organic debris. Soil microbes do better when they have a balanced meal of nitrogen and carbon
Warning: It does not take very much nitrogen to bring the C:N ratio into balance – about a 0.5 lbs. of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. or about 2.5 lbs. per average 5000 sq. ft. lawn. For Example: A 40 lbs. bag or 20-0-10 has 8 lbs. of nitrogen or enough for 3 lawns. Too much nitrogen and you create lazy microbes that just feed off the nitrogen and stop composting. So don’t over fertilize – it is bad for your lawn.