Here in Volusia County, summer is approaching, and we know there’s nothing quite like summer fun—so our flamingo flock is helping us take the summer off—from fertilizing, that is! Let’s hear it directly from them: Here are the top ways to
Be Floridian Now this summer!
1. Skip the Fertilizer: The first thing you can do to protect our fun, and our water quality, is to skip the fertilizer during the summer rainy season, from June 1 through September 30. Summer rain showers wash fertilizer into our waterways, causing toxic algae blooms and fish kills. Volusia County has a fertilizer ban on nitrogen and phosphorus—the first two numbers on the fertilizer bag—from June 1 through September 30. During this time, residents and lawn care companies may not apply nitrogen or phosphorus to lawns or landscape plants.
2. Twice is Nice: Use at least 50% slow-release nitrogen, once in the spring and once in the fall. This will carry your plants through the rainy season, without posing an extra risk to our water bodies. And don’t forget to skip the phosphorus year-round without a proven deficiency. For more information on how to read a fertilizer label, go to www.Volusia.org/BeFloridianNow or www.BeFloridianNow.org.
3. Be on your Guard: If you choose to fertilize with 50% or more slow-release fertilizer, make sure there is a deflector shield or edge guard on your fertilizer spreader so you can spread it only where you need it. If you do make a mistake, brush any stray granules back onto your landscaping. Driveways, sidewalks and streets lead to storm drains, which lead to water bodies.
4. Get Buffer: Keep your fertilizer at least 15 feet away from any body of water, as required by Volusia County’s fertilizer ordinance. While you’re giving your waterways some distance, why not plan for a low-maintenance buffer zone around your waterfront? Whether they’re on the bank or in the water, low-maintenance zones can include native or Florida friendly plants, which require NO fertilizer or irrigation once they are established in the right place. They can even help protect your waterway from excess fertilizer runoff. For more information about Florida friendly plants for pond shorelines, see the UF/IFAS Extension’s webpage on the topic here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep476.
5. Floridify your Yard: When the Right Plant is in the Right Place, it can reduce or eliminate your need for fertilizer and irrigation. It can also require less overall maintenance, cost less in the long-term, and benefit local wildlife. Native and Florida friendly plants can be sustainable turf alternatives. As you plan, you can call a nursery near you and ask about availability of native or Florida friendly plants. For some common native plants for Florida yards, check out these resources: https://befloridiannow.org/floridifying/.
6. Raise the Blade: When you mow your lawn, raising the blade on your mower makes the grass that is in your landscape stronger and more capable of finding its own nutrients and water in the soil. Remember, grasses are plants, too! Mowing too short stresses the grass and makes it more vulnerable to disease and pests. For more information about good mowing practices, visit the UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions site at https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/lawns/lawn-care/mowing-your-florida-lawn.html.
7. Keep the Clippings: Keep grass clippings on your landscape, because they contain nitrogen! Nitrogen can contribute to nutrient pollution if it runs off your lawn, but clippings left on your landscape will break down and feed your lawn. It’s free fertilizer! For more information about “grass-cycling,” and for recommended mowing heights, see the UF/IFAS Extension webpage on the topic: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/sarasota/natural-resources/waste-reduction/composting/what-is-composting/what-can-be-composted/grass-cycling/.
8. Save the Water (bill): Only water your landscape if your plants are showing signs of stress, like if the leaves of your plants are curling, or you can see footprints in your lawn. Otherwise, keep your distance! You may be surprised to find that they might not need your help as often as you think they do, especially if you have the Right Plant in the Right Place! IF YOU MUST water, do so efficiently. Be sure that it has not rained in a while, and that rain is not scheduled in the forecast. Keep an eye on your system, and make sure your sprinkler heads are pointing in the right direction – not watering the sidewalk!
Know your watering day/s, and know where your shut-off valve is, in case you need to get involved in the process. See this link for more information about watering days in Volusia County: https://www.volusia.org/services/growth-and-resource-management/environmental-management/natural-resources/water-conservation/.
Shared courtesy of Volusia.org/BeFloridianNow