Florida is a great state to live in. It’s called the Sunshine State for a reason, after all. It’s also home a lot of varied plant and animal life, animal life that can show up in your lawn. So, how can you tell what, exactly, is munching away on your greenery?
The first step to keeping your lawn healthy and free from freeloading pests is to determine what kind of grass you have. Many kinds of grasses grow well in Florida. St. Augustine, for example, is the most common grass. It needs a lot of moisture and is found is warmer climates. Bahia does well in sandy soil and is a quick grower that requires a lot of mowing. Bermuda is a deep green color with a sharp, pointed blade and is very dense. It requires regular watering and fertilizing to maintain. Centipede thrives in humid and warm areas and doesn’t need as much as much fertilizing as other grasses, it also grows very low. Zoysia is the last commonly found grass. It’s dark green and very turf-like with soft blades. It stands up great to foot traffic.
Florida is a great environment for people as well as pests because of the warm weather. If pests invade your property you’ll start to notice an impact on your lawn. If you’ve noticed patches in your lawn turning yellow and then reddish before dying it probably means you have a Chinch bug problem. These bugs really like St. Augustine grass and like to strip the grass of its nutrients with their needle-like beaks. These bugs like sunny areas, so you may notice the damage more in those areas of your lawn.
Mole crickets are another bug to be on the lookout for. If left untreated they can wreak some real havoc on your beautiful lawn. These bugs prefer Bermuda and Bahia grass. They feed on the roots of the grass causing it to dry out and then die. Be on the lookout for dying patches of grass and evidence of their tunneling (very mole-like) activity.
Army worms are not new Army recruits, but pests that like to feed on St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. These worms are gray/yellow striped and are nocturnal feeders. You may have Army worms if you notice brown areas on the blades of grass which indicate where the worms are chewing.
Grubs like to grub on your grass and are generally known as the most damaging lawn insect. They enjoy the roots of grasses and other plants and can go munching about for quite a long time before you notice them. You will notice irregular sections of brown grass if you have a grub problem.
Spittlebug– a pleasant name for a pleasant little pest that makes a white, spit-like barrier that can look like a frothy substance on plants and grasses. St. Augustine and Bermuda grass are the preferred grass of this bug and you will notice patches of the grass turning yellow and then brown. If you utilize proper fertilizing techniques on your lawn, this can help to discourage Spittlebugs from setting up camp.
If you notice any damage to your lawn and suspect that it may be from an insect, call in a specialist right away. It’s also important to make sure that you take care of not only your grass, but your ornamental plants as well. You can do this by making sure to regularly fertilize and prune your garden, as well as have regular pest control applied. Proper drainage is also important to ensure a healthy garden while weeding and pruning to make sure your plants have plenty of space to grow.
For you lawn, fertilization and weed control in conjunction with pest control is the way to go. This will help to make sure your lawn remains vibrant and healthy. The year round tropical conditions of Florida require you to put in a little bit of effort, but the results will be worth it. For thin grass you may want to think about seeding every spring. Also make sure you know what kind of grass you have so that you know how much to cut it. Different types of grasses will look best and thrive when cut to specific heights. Water your lawn less but with more water each time you do. Spring and late summer are also the best times to fertilize your lawn in order to make sure you get the most benefit. If weeds are an issue, it’s best to let them grow in a bit before you treat your lawn.
So, there you have it, a great primer to care for your Floridian lawn! Now, go enjoy all that beautiful sunshine!