Winerizing a St Augustine Lawn

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

By Rick Orr 01/10/2022
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Applying granular fertilizer in the winter months
Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer during the winter months that will release when the temperatures are in the range for active plant growth.

Semi-Dormant - Green but not Growing

Winterizing is necessary to prepare your lawn for the spring flush growth and reduce and prevent weeds and fungus that can attack your lawn during the winter. Cool air and soil temperatures suspend normal turf growth – a type of hibernation until warmer temperatures arrive in the spring. However, not everything is hibernating - winter weeds are growing, and cool-season fungi are active.

Preparing Your Lawn for Spring

To prepare your lawn for spring, it is best to apply fertilizer just before or soon after the lawn starts its spring flush growth. You do not want to apply a fast-release fertilizer to a semi-dormant lawn, as this can damage the lawn. I don’t have the ability to fertilize every lawn in my care in a couple of weeks. Therefore, to prepare a lawn for the spring flush growth, I apply a slow-release granular fertilizer during the winter months that releases when the temperatures are in the range for active plant growth.

Dormant Turf and Green Weeds – Easy Weed Control

Dormant turf is less sensitive to herbicides. This allows for an aggressive weed control program that would harm turf during the hot summer months. The principle is to reduce the weed count as much as possible during the winter, so the lawn is “clean” coming into the spring and summer months.

Winter Annuals vs. Perennials

The most common winter annuals in Pinellas are yellow rocket and various clovers. These are “flash in the pan” weeds. Their entire lifecycle can be a few short weeks. Treating with herbicide will reduce them, but they will die a natural death with rising temperatures.

However, Dollar weed, sedges, and dayflower are perennials that flourish in the cooler weather. These are the “Big 3” that require consistent, persistent effort to control. I recommend that you treat the Big 3 aggressively every other month when temperatures do not exceed 85 degrees and use a lighter touch when temperatures exceed 85 degrees.

Potassium is an Organic Fungicide

I use granular fertilizers high in Potassium to organically prevent fungus attacks. Research shows lawns high in potassium have less fungus. Yet, Potassium does more than just prevent fungus; it strengthens cells and helps with food absorption. I recommend broadcasting the potassium-rich fertilizers on the turf areas and into planted beds and non-turf areas to prevent diseases from spreading from untreated areas.

Investing in the Future

Winterizing your lawn does little for your lawn today but will pay big dividends in the Spring with a greener, healthier, and weed-free lawn.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Rick
Orr
APL Pest Control

Rick Orr is the creator of Iloveturf.com, Owner/Operator of APL Pest Control, and a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology).  

Since 1980, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications for arboriculture, landscape contractor, irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College.  

Rick lives and works in Pinellas County.

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Speaking Engagements - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions, and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association, or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. Feel free to contact Rick Orr at [email protected] for more information.