Lawn Care Tips for Saving Water, Time and Money


Right plant, right place

  • Most grasses require 6-8 hours of full sun
  • Tolerant of shade St. Augustine:  Seville, Delmar or Bitterblue
  • 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
  • Don’t mow when grass is wet
  • ¬†Leave grass clippings on the ground
  • Keep mower in top condition (change oil and filters)

Watering your lawn

  • Peak wet season in Florida:  June through September
  • 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
  • Comply with restrictions of community
  • Do not irrigate non-target areas (sidewalks, driveways, etc.)
  • Water in the early morning hours 6am – 10am
  • Use ¾ - 1 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 “16-4-8”
  • Apply 1 lb of slow release fertilizer per 1000 sq. ft.
  • If fertilizer contains less than 30% 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, and September (possibly May if needed)
  • Apply K in fall
  • Don’t fertilize in heavy rainfall
  • During drought conditions – reduce fertilization
  • Avoid using “Weed & Feed”
  • 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 ¼ inch
  • Never apply turf fertilizer to palms
  • Store fertilizer to avoid it getting 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
  • 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

Green Grass

Rebecca Jordi
Horticulture Agent IV
County Extension Director
Contributing Editor