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How to care for your Florida lawn

Anyone that's ever tended to a Florida lawn will be familiar with the challenges and rewards of life in the Sunshine State. In general, the difficulties of lawn care are few—the strong sulfur smell of the water needed for grass maintenance is the most common complaint. I've found that the rewards, on the other hand, are many: a variety of beautiful grasses to choose from, weather that usually works in my favor, and the ability to enjoy the fruits of my labor all year round. The proximity to famed attractions such as Walt Disney World, the Miami-Dade Zoological Park, and the Kennedy Space Center doesn't hurt, either. For those of you who can pull yourselves away from the pleasures of Clearwater Beach and its nearby sun-flecked cousins, here's a basic primer on the ins and outs of Florida lawn care.

Climate

Florida is more prone to overheating than to frostbite, as the statewide average temperatures will attest. July is the hottest month by a small margin, with average highs of 82 degrees. Even the month with the coldest averages (January) rarely sees the mercury dip below 50. For this reason, homeowners should choose a grass that can withstand a good deal of heat and humidity. Because the temperatures tend to be higher in the southern part of the state, it's acceptable to apply fertilizer all year round. Residents of northern and central Florida should cease the distribution of fertilizer in the late summer or early fall. While the state doesn't see a great deal of winter weather per se, the grass will still go dormant during the cooler months in this area of the state.

Common Grass Types

Here's a brief rundown on the grasses that thrive best in the warm, humid Florida climate.

St. Augustine grass

This is a highly recognizable type of greenery, as it's quite popular in the southern states. The blades are a deep green with a hint of blue and have a full, flat appearance.

Bermuda grass

Most commonly found on golf courses and other sports fields, Bermuda grass is grayish-green in color and features short, rough blades.

Bahiagrass In my experience, Bahia grass tends to produce a rich, dense sod. Vividly green in color, it can thrive even in less-than-optimal conditions.

Buffalo grass

The blue-green, curling blades of Buffalo grass bring to mind the ruffled mane of the beast for which it was named.

Centipede grass

This variety will blanket the lawn in a rich, lush carpet of deep green, even with minimal maintenance.

Zoysia grass

This flamboyantly named species is the one to plug in when a dramatic effect is desired. Landscapers are particularly fond of the fine texture and curb appeal that zoysia provides.

In Conclusion

While it's important to understand the weather conditions—as well as which plant species are most likely to endure in the heat of the South—maintaining a beautiful yard is as easy as the Florida lifestyle itself. A bad day tending to a Florida lawn is preferable to a good day tending to a lawn anywhere else.

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