From a lawn care perspective, winter is generally a break from the more routine mowing, fertilizing, and seeding schedule of the rest of the year. But if there's one thing everyone eventually learns about how to care for grass in Florida, it's that there are no absolutes.
Sometimes, winter means getting down and dirty fighting off grass diseases out to steal your lawn right out from under your feet!
The Top Three Threats
In our corner of the Florida panhandle, there are three main turfgrass disease threats we need to be concerned with during an average winter:
- Pythium Blight
- Harmful Nematodes
- Brown patch/large patch
Of course, during an abnormally warm and moist winter, a lot of other warmer weather threats like Dollar Spot, Leaf Spot, Fairy Ring, and Rust could potentially be a problem too. But usually those diseases wait for warmer weather. For a full list, see the most common grass diseases affecting Pensacola lawns.
Pythium Blight and harmful nematodes are both greatly encouraged by excessive nitrogen-based fertilization during the fall. This causes the grass to remain thicker and lusher into the colder weather than it should and provides for deeper root systems. In both cases, the disease finds a perfect environment for growth during a time of year when it would normally struggle to survive as your grass goes dormant.
How to fight these diseases
For your lawn to effectively fight these diseases off requires a strategic combination of lawn care best practices and smart chemical application as needed.
- Follow an intelligent fertilizing schedule that tapers off early in the fall to allow your grass to go dormant naturally.
- If you absolutely must have a green lawn all year, consider overseeding with treated ryegrass seeds that are resistant, especially to Pythium Blight (which ryegrass can be especially susceptible to.)
- Rake after the last few mowings in the fall to remove excess thatch and leave the grass and soil exposed to the cooler air.
- Avoid excess watering, especially late in the day, and never mow while the grass is wet.
- Avoid mowing the grass too short as this causes stress, which leaves it more susceptible to these diseases.
Finally, if all the options within your control are exhausted and you're still experiencing a problem with these lawn diseases, call a professional Pensacola lawn care company to find out the best treatment for your lawn.