How high should you cut your lawn?
This is a common question – especially for those who are new to Florida! St Augustine turf is typically cut 4″-5″ high, whereas Bahia and Zoysia are kept a bit shorter. Typically it is not recommended to cut more than 1/3 of the blade of grass at each mowing. Keeping the grass a bit higher than you may initially think is appropriate actually increases the photosynthesis on each blade of grass which makes the root system stronger and this in turn will keep the turf healthy year-round.
Keeping the mower blades sharp and properly balanced is another important part of mowing practices. Grass cut by a sharp blade will heal over more quickly and lose less water than a leaf blade shredded by a dull mower blade.
Grass clippings are a valuable resource that many homeowners throw away. Raking or frequent emptying of mower grass catchers into expensive (non-biodegradable) plastic bags is hard work. But leaving the clippings on the lawn will reduce the amount of time and money you spend on lawn care. We use Mulching blades so that the clippings fall down in between the turf. vEach bag of grass clippings you throw away contains up to one-fourth of a pound of organic nitrogen that could be reused by your lawn. This is especially important now that we cannot fertilize with nitrogen during the summer in Manatee County.
Chinch bugs can cause St. Augustine lawns to look like straw. Damage usually begins near driveways or sidewalks where heat builds up. Neem oil is a less toxic alternative shown to be effective against chinch bugs. Fertilizing with iron sulfate during hot summer months can green up the lawn without producing succulent growth that is so attractive to chinch bugs.
Source: Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. Learn more at askextension.org or pinellascountyextension.org.