Lawn Care Tips for Saving Water, Time & Money

Lawn care:

  • Right plant, right place
  • Most grasses require 6-8 hours of full sun
  • Tolerant shade St. Augustine:  Delmar,  Bitterblue or Seville (dwarf)
  • Some cultivars of Zoysia
  • Consider planting alternative ground cover
  • Set mower blade height to highest setting for your type of lawn
  • 3-4 inches for St. Augustine and Bahia
  • Never cut more than 1/3 of the blade (leaf)
  • Be sure your mower blade is sharp, keep mower in top condition



Don’t mow when grass is wet

  • Leave grass clippings on the ground
  • Watering your lawn:
  • Water when blade begins to fold on itself
  • Modify irrigation for seasonal changes
  • Turf and landscape plants should be irrigated  separately
  • Check your rain shut-off device for proper operation
  • Irrigate turf evenly: Too much water equals disease;

Too little water can entice insects

  • Use less water in shady areas
  • Comply with restrictions of community
  • Do not irrigate non-target areas (sidewalks, driveways, etc.)
  • Water in the early morning hours 6am – 10am
  • Use 1/2 – 3/4 inch of water each time you irrigate
  • During spring and summer water once or twice a week as needed
  • During winter water every 10 – 14 days as needed
  • Irrigation construction materials must meet the standards of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE)
  • Standards and Specifications for Turf and Landscape Irrigation Systems:  Florida Irrigation Society,


  • Fertilizers are not food – plants produce their own food
  • Fertilizer spills should be immediately cleaned up



No fertilizer should ever be placed down storm drains

  • Use a fertilizer containing slow release nitrogen

    • Quick release – urea, ammonium sulfate,  or ammonium nitrate

    • Slow release – coated urea

  • Problems with too much fertilizer:

    • Excess shoot or root growth

    • Weak, thin cell walls in blade tissue

    • Susceptible to insect and disease

    • Less able to tolerate environmental stress

  • Use a complete fertilizer labeled 15-0-15 or 16-0-8  
  • Apply 1 lb of slow release fertilizer per 1000 sq. ft.
  • If fertilizer contains less than 25% slow release N, use ½ lb per 1000 sq. ft.
  • Calculate your square footage:
    • Multiply length by width measures of your lot
    • Subtract your house, driveway, any walking paths, flowerbeds, etc. 
  • Fertilizer rates of pounds of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. for the year:
    • St. Augustine – 1 to 2  
    • Bahia – 2 to 3



Bermuda – 3 to 5

    • Centipede – 1 to 2
    • Zoysia – 3 to 5
  • Calculate how much nitrogen in your fertilizer bag:
    • 16-4-8 in 50 lb bag:  50 X .16 = 8 lbs
    • 15-0-15 in 40 lb bag :  40 X .15 = 6 lbs
  • Potential for leaching due to misapplication  of fertilizer
  • Fertilize in March & September; May - if needed
  • Apply K (potassium or potash) in fall
  • Don’t fertilize in heavy rainfall
  • Use less fertilizer in shady areas
  • Reduce fertilizer during drought conditions
  • Avoid using “Weed & Feed”, turfbuilders, winterizers,  & no lime unless soil is tested
  • Use an iron supplement (iron sulfate) in summer months
  • Allow your grass to go dormant from October through February
  • Calibrate your spreader
  • After applying granular fertilizers water grass ¼ inch to remove fertilizer from grass blades
  • Never apply turf fertilizer to palms
  • Store fertilizer to avoid getting it wet
  • Avoid loading fertilizers around pond or wells


  • Add a shield to protect ponds and flower beds
  • “Ring of Responsibility” around ponds:
    • 3 feet with a shield on spreader
    • 10 ft without shield

    Choosing a lawn care company.  Ask:

  • For a consultation and review of your lawn  and its needs
  • If they use IPM methods (integrated pest management)
  • If they use UF Best Management Practices  (BMP)
  • What other training they receive
  • If they are licensed for pesticide application
  • For proof of their license and insurance
  • For names of chemicals being applied and why.
  • What maintenance procedures you will be expected to perform
  • The BBB about any complaints on the company
  • For personnel who will listen to your needs but remember to keep in touch with your company – compliments and complaints
  • Obtain a written contract agreement
  • Automatic yearly renewal
  • Cancellation penalties


Rebecca Jordi
Horticulture Agent IV
County Extension Director
Contributing Editor