Take a few steps to keep your lawn healthy during winter
While your lawn grass won't require quite as much of your time during the winter months, there are a few things you must watch for to keep your grass looking its best until spring arrives. Regular monitoring for signs of pests and diseases is the best way to head-off problems before things spiral out-of-control. When the temperatures drop and our humidity levels change, you might notice fungus on your grass or landscape plants. Different fungal diseases have different requirements for development, but most can be managed with proper lawn care. Landscape experts recommend cutting your grass to 3 to 4 inches in height during late fall and winter. While regular watering is always important, when you water your lawn is critical. Run your sprinkler system during the early morning hours, before the sun comes up and avoid wetting plant foliage if possible. Applying the appropriate fertilizers to your lawn will also improve the health of your grass, which is key to keeping diseases at bay. Remember, healthy grass is far less likely to be attacked by pests and diseases as lawns under stress.Broadleaf weeds are unwelcome guests in any home landscape setting. They are quite easy to spot, often sticking out like a sore thumb in an otherwise picturesque setting. Weeds are typically hard to control in temperatures under 65 degrees, in wet conditions and in hot weather. To keep weeds from taking over your yard this winter, mow your grass to the proper height, water correctly and apply chemical control products if necessary. Chinch bugs are active almost year-round in central Florida and can be devastating to your lawn. Although St.Augustinegrass is a chinch bug favorite, bermudagrass, bahiagrass, zoysiagrass and centipedegrass may also suffer damage from these pests. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, chinch bugs feed on plant juices in the leaf sheaths causing grass to turn brown and eventually die. Most ching bug damage is seen along driveways or walkways, but they may also damage grass in the very middle of your lawn. Brown patches of dead grass are typically seen in sunny, open areas of the yard. There could be several reasons for brown patches of grass, so it is important to be sure the damage is being caused by chinch bugs before treatment. You can use a hand-held vacuum cleaner to suck up bugs where damage is obvious. A soap flush also works well and causes bugs to come to the surface where you can see them. Have your lawn examined by a pest control expert if the damage to your lawn is severe, as these pests can be difficult to eliminate. Your lawn grass may not be the only host to unwelcome guests this winter. Colder weather often drives other pests indoors, seeking shelter. Seeing winged insects indoors is common during the summer in central Florida, but it can be problematic if you see them during the winter. Finding carpenter ants in your home this winter might be a sign of an infestation indoors. You may also bring pests indoors unknowingly in grocery bags and firewood. Rodents are common indoor invaders, as they are always looking for water, food and shelter. Keep garbage away from your home and avoid leaving food debris in your home to reduce the likelihood of infestations. These few tips should help you keep your home happy and healthy this winter. Before we know it, the holidays will be gone and spring just around the corner.