Your lawn care routine should be carefully mapped out: know when to aerate, fertilize, seed, water, and mow. But all of those steps depend on the type of grass you have! You might know the exact type of grass on your lawn, but do you know if your grass is considered a cool-season or warm-season grass? The two types need completely different lawn care regimens, so identifying your grass can help you schedule your lawn care for maximum results!
Identifying Warm-Season Grass
One of the easiest ways to identify your grass is based on the area you live in. If you live in the northern half of the United States, chances are that your lawn has cool-season grass. If you live in the southern half, especially the sunbelt area of the United States, you most likely have warm-season grass. If you live in the “Transition Zone,” otherwise known as the middle of the United States, you might have warm-season grass! Are the temperatures in your area considered warmer, sometimes ranging from 80 to 95 degrees? Then you probably have warm-season grass! For quick reference, the most common types of grass that are categorized as warm-season are:
- St. Augustine
Characteristics of Warm-Season Grass
Warm-season grasses prosper in 80 to 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) temperatures. Because it’s rare for this temperature to last year-round, warm-season grass is dormant for five to six months. During the dormant season, the grass stops growing and browns. But that does not mean your grass is dead! Warm-season grass browns to protect itself from the impending cold weather; your grass is still very much alive, just waiting for the springtime!
Taking Care of Warm-Season Grass
Homeowners know the basics: grass needs sunlight, water, and a good mow once in a while. When it comes to warm-season grass, your lawn has very specific needs. Warm-season grass thrives in sunlight, whereas cool-season grass is usually scorched by the sun. If you have bermudagrass especially, your lawn needs six to eight hours of full sunlight each day! Along the same lines, warm-season grass needs water, but is prone to being over-watered, as homeowners assume the more sun exposure, the more water that’s needed. Too much water can lead to fungus growth and eventual disease. We recommend one inch to one-and-one-fourth inches of water weekly. Water early in the morning, so those six to eight hours of sunlight dry your grass before nightfall!
The Mowing Outlier
For most lawns, we steer homeowners away from mowing their lawn too short, as it can lead to an infestation of weeds like crabgrass, and dry patches. But with warm-season grass, such as zoysiagrass or bermudagrass, your grass can be cut all the way down to half an inch! You can have that short, sharp, manicured lawn look without risking your lawn’s health.
When to Fertilize your Grass
The polarizing difference between cool-season grass and warm-season grass is the window to fertilize. Unlike cool-season grass, warm-season grass should be fertilized in the spring and summer. Specifically, once in the spring, when your lawn is showing the first signs of waking up from dormancy. During that initial growth, wait until your warm-season grass shows some green, then lay down some liquid lawn care! The next round of fertilizing is in early summer. Through the summer, let your lawn soak in the sunshine and let nature take over. In the final weeks of summer, with fall around the corner, apply the final round of fertilizer to prevent your lawn from dying during dormancy.
Choosing a Lawn Fertilizer
Choosing the right formula of liquid lawn care appropriate for your warm-season grass can be intimidating. Here is the timeline and formulas we suggest for each round of fertilizing for your warm-season lawn.
Spring Fertilizer, Round 1
Make sure you choose a spring and summer fertilizer for all three sessions, so your lawn is given the best nutrients to maximize growth and green. In early spring, apply our 16-4-8 Liquid Lawn Food, which delivers an effective balance of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. This formula of liquid lawn care will help your lawn treat any nutrient deficiencies, and strengthen the roots that may have weakened over the winter. Follow up with our Lawn Energizer so your lawn is the first to turn evenly green in your neighborhood!
Spring Fertilizer, Round 2
The second round of liquid lawn care is right before the peak warm season, so we want to make sure all the nutrients your lawn is getting are free to move about the soil and into your plant and grass roots. Our 15-0-15 Liquid Lawn Food harnesses nitrogen and potassium, combined with humic acid, which creates an efficient environment in your soil for your warm-season grass to flourish. Immediately afterward, apply Lawn Booster so your lawn can take advantage of the summer to grow deep roots before your final application.
End of Summer Fertilizer
Approach the final round of liquid lawn care as if you are putting the finishing touches on all the hard, growing work your warm-season lawn accomplished in the sunshine, and preparing your lawn for a healthy state of dormancy, without the risk of dead patches. We have two recommendations: the 28-0-0 Liquid Lawn Food and the 3-18-18 Liquid Lawn Fertilizer. Here’s how to choose: if your lawn did not grow as much as you hoped over the summer, especially if you live in Florida with a summer in the dark thunderstorms of hurricane season, then choose the 28-0-0. It contains slow-release nitrogen that keeps your lawn well-fed before dormancy and a final stimulation of growth! If you are more concerned with disease during dormancy, especially if you live in the “Transition Zone” that is prone to a snowstorm or two, then choose the 3-18-18 for your liquid lawn care. The focus on phosphorous and potassium will help your lawn prepare for dormancy in winter weather.
Common Mistakes in Warm-Season Grass
Now that your fertilizing timeline and liquid lawn care are planned out, it’s time to confront some common mistakes we see homeowners make with their warm-season grass:
- Plan watering around rain — if your southern state has a September of thunderstorms, spread out your sprinkler schedule to avoid still water, especially before the dormant season.
- Don’t stop mowing until your lawn stops growing! If your warm-season lawn is active through October, continue to mow to keep your lawn healthy.
- Even if your lawn is beginning to brown, still remove fallen leaves. Leaves covering a dormant lawn are a breeding ground for disease.
Now that you know the tips and tricks to take care of your lawn, it’s time to mark your calendar and grab your fertilizer.