Fertilizer is food for your lawn; without it, your lawn simply can’t stay lush and healthy.  Unfortunately, most Tampa residents don’t have a fertilization plan for their lawn.  The real tragedy, however, is that many who do fertilize fail to think of the environment while doing do.

These five tips, based on guidelines from the Southwest Florida Water Management district will help you achieve a lush green lawn while protecting the environment.

Tip 1: Start with a soil sample

Before you even think about laying down fertilizer, you should do a soil test via your local county extension.  While it may be tempting to buy a bag of fertilizer from Home Depot and spread it around, the reality is you have no idea what type of fertilizer you should lay down.

Tip 2: Look out for phosphorus

Now that you’ve got your soil sample, it’s time to take a look at the results.  The first thing you should check is the phosphorus level.

It’s not uncommon for Florida soil to have adequate or even high levels of phosphorus in the soil.  If this is the case, be sure to use a fertilizer that contains low amounts of phosphorus.

Tip 3: See how acidic your lawn is

Remember the old PH scale from high school chemistry?  Well, it finally has a practical purpose for you.

The ideal PH for most grass types is between 6.5 and 7.0 – which indicates neutrality.  If you know your grass type, you can use the chart found here to determine the appropriate PH.

It’s very common for Tampa lawns to be on the acidic side, which means in addition to laying down fertilizer, you may want to consider a lime application.  Fertilizer can only do so much good when the soil is too acidic.

Tip 5: Don’t bother fertilizing when the grass isn’t growing

Here in sunny Tampa, we’re blessed with a nice mild winter.  The warm season grasses here thrive on heat and go dormant during the winter.  And when the grass isn’t growing, they don’t need food, so fertilizing will be a waste of your time and money, and create unnecessary runoff.  So this winter remember more jingles, less fertilization.

Tip 6: Don’t fertilize when it’s about to rain

Fertilizer takes time for the grassroots to absorb.  If you apply it and then it rains, the roots get none of it and our waterways get all of it.  Plus, you’ll have to lay it down again.  Basically, nobody wins, so be sure not to fertilize if a storm is brewin’.

Tip 7: Consider hiring a professional

We don’t like to toot our own horn here on the LawnStarter blog, but even if you’re a DIYer, you may want to consider hiring a certified Tampa lawn service to take care of your fertilization.  For one, Florida has pretty stringent licensing laws around applying fertilizer in order to protect not only the environment but your lawn.  This means that professionals have to pass rigorous tests, and know what they’re doing in order to touch your lawn with chemicals.  Furthermore, it’s easy to burn your lawn – applying too much chemical, resulting in ugly, yellowish grass.  And that’s no good.  Finally, the chemicals that professionals have access to are far more effective than what you can buy at Home Depot, so your lawn will look much better than were you to do it yourself.

Need help tending to your lawn? Visit our Tampa lawn care page for more info! In addition to Tampa, we also provide lawn care service in Spring Hill, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Ruskin. We also service Central Florida in Lakeland, Deltona, Palm Bay, and Orlando, as well as South Florida areas including Miami

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