The Importance of Soil Testing to North Florida Lawn Care

This article was written for our industry association, the National Association of Landscape Professionals

When you take on a new lawn care client, you may think you know what products should be applied based on what you’re seeing in the turf. However, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and this is where the importance of soil tests come in.

“It’s like going to the doctor,” says Mike Hall, COO of Spectrum Analytic, Inc. based in Washington Court House, Ohio. “They’re going order a battery of tests if you’ve never been to that doctor before to find out what’s going on inside your body. A soil test does the same thing. It finds out what’s going on in the soil so you can amend it properly and not just guess.”

Hall guarantees that if you pulled a soil sample from each house in a cul-de-sac the results would be different for each lawn, so it’s important not to assume the soil is the same as the other properties you care for in the area.


VLOG: Topdressing a Zoysia Lawn with Comand Organic Soil

Topdressing with Lifesoil's Comand Turf Builder is a game cheaper for your lawn. It makes an amazing difference specifically for client's with poor soil quality for one of these reasons. The soil is available throughout the southeast, but it is formulated and we apply the topdressings locally in Gainesville, Florida lawns.

Builders sand: Your home was built within the past ten years and was built with primarily Archer fill dirt or builder's sand. As you heard in the video, Comand topdressing helps add moisture retention ability and nutrient uptaking capacity for the roots of your lawn.

Clay: Your lawn struggles to grow deep roots due to compacted clay soil. Aeration and  Comand lawn dressing will add some nutrients rich soil as well as non-compacting loose soil to begin to set roots into.

Soil Born Diseases: Soilborn Diseases in lawns can be reduced by removing the diseased soil and applying new organic compost to reduce the spread. This is not a cure, but an...

What does my lawn need in the winter?

We are now in the winter months and keeping your lawn maintained is just as important now as it is in the spring and summer. Even though your lawn growth has slowed during this season, the soil microbes are still busy at work. Whether you have concerns about watering, rooting, or weed control, we have a few tips to help you love your lawn even more in 2021. 

  1. Properly managed water
    Lawns in Florida need less water during winter than the rest of the year. A general rule of thumb is to give your lawn about an inch of water per week. For most lawns, you'll need to water about once a week during the winter, which is also the limit from the County's water management plan as well. Avoid watering your lawn during any temperatures below 40-degrees, as this water can freeze on the plants creating worse frost damage than a simple frost. Smart controllers are generally set up to not water below freezing automatically, but if you do not have a smart
  2. ...

VLOG: How To Prevent Brown Patch Fungus in your Gainesville Lawn

If a St.Augustine lawn has developed circular patches of dead, brown areas of turf, then the most likely cause for these brown patches will be a lawn fungus disease called Brown Patch, or Large Patch Fungus.

Brown Patch lawn disease is triggered in a consistent time of year as the weather transitions from Summer to Winter or Winter to Summer (transition seasons of spring and fall).

Brown Patch will be identified by circular browning patches of lawn which will continue to grow in size from the size of a dinner plate up to a few feet in diameter. Multiple circles of Brown Patch are common on St Augustine lawns infected by the disease.

The browning leaf of the Saint Augustine grass will also pull away from the grass stem very easily. On inspection, the lower part of the dead leaf will appear as a rotting dark brown color.

Treating Brown Patch Disease in Saint Augustine Grass
Prevention is the key to stopping all lawn diseases in a...

VLOG: Why does my Zoysia grass have tiger stripes?

Zoysia lawns in North Florida during winter months can go partially dormant and look tiger striped, snake patterned, or lawn pest damaged. The reality is that it's not a lawn pest or fungus. It is cold dormancy setting in unevenly.

How can you help? The number one thing you need is patience. Patience for a harder frost to send the rest of the lawn into dormancy or patience for it to grow out once it warms up.

Although this cannot be solved with fertilization or Gainesville lawn spraying, we do offer these services to help your lawn get back in shape this spring. Fill out the form above or call us at (352) 378-LAWN today. 

2 Invasive Fall Gainesville Lawn Weeds to Watch Out for

Fall Weed Control = Big Opportunity! The best time to get rid of invasive weeds in your lawn (like Doveweed and Basketgrass) is right now!

Identifying Doveweed and Creeping Basketgrass in your lawn early is one of the most important ways to protect your Gainesville Florida lawn in the late summer and early fall season. This video was filmed in early September and is about how to identification some invasive weeds before they take over your lawn. This video is more about identification than how to do lawn weed control because it is so difficult to control these weeds without products specifically formulated for licensed weed control professionals, and also depends upon your type of turf as to which will work.

If these lawn weeds are caught early enough and you prefer to DIY your lawn weed control program, reducing irrigation and hand-pulling is the most effective way to keep these weeds from spreading. However, they do spread rapidly so it will be a...

How do I control green "sandspurs" in my lawn?

The most common mistake made in weed identification for summer and fals weeds is mistaking globe sedge and other nutsedges as sandspurs. If they are green and soft on the stem (as show in the video), it is almost always a sedge such as globe sedge, nutsedge, or kyllinga.

Weed control in Gainesville lawns always starts first with proper identification, because that is how you choose the approach. To control sedge, you reduce irrigation and use a product like sedgehammer. If you have actual sandspurs in your lawn, you would increase watering and use a non-selective herbicide with a strong pre-emergent. 

Sandspurs are typically found in dry arid areas (hence the term sand) such as cow pastures, sides of the roadway, or non-irrigated turf. True sandspurs are brown and are rarely ever soft enough to pinch between your fingers.We will do a later video on controlling actual sandspurs - but controlling sedge is all about proper 

To learn more about our Alachua County...

Quick Tip: What is Take-All Root Rot in my Gainesville Lawn?

What is Take-All Root Rot in my Gainesville Lawn?
Take-All Root Rot is a fungal disease that lives in the soil and attacks turf when conditions are favorable. Most commonly, it is found in St. Augustine lawns, however it can also be found in Bermuda and even Zoysia turfgrasses.

What causes Take-All Root Rot?
Take-All Root Rot is caused by the fungal pathogen Geaumannomyces graminis and is found in soil in Gainesville, Alachua, and Newberry Lawns. Less-than favorable conditions that allow for this attack on turf include:

  • Mild winter weather
  • Excessive rainfall or irrigation
  • Stress from poor mowing practices (too low, not often enough)
  • Heavy clay soils
  • Poor drainage
  • Compacted soils
  • Over-watering
  • Nighttime irrigation schedules
  • Excessive shade

What are the symptoms of root rot?


Spring To Do List for Gainesville Lawns

Spring marks the start of a new growing season. It's time to get out there and tackle some spring lawn fundamentals to set you and your grass up for success before season fully kicks into gear. Putting in a little extra work now is going to mean less time, frustration, and possibly even money spent later on trying to rescue your lawn. Do what you can to build a strong lawn foundation this spring, it's worth it.

Why isn't my Gainesville lawn as green as my neighbors?

Although there can be a number of different factors affecting why your lawn isn't as green as your neighbors, one of the most common is the available nutrients. 

In this January video, both lawns have the same turfgrass cultivar, watering practices, and mowing heights. The difference is simply differing lawn application programs (or lack thereof) during the fall.

In Alachua County and Gainesville, Florida lawns, there is what is commonly called a 'fertilizer ban' or 'fertilizer ordinance' in the fall and winter. That doesn't mean you cannot apply nutrients to your lawn and soil - just specifically Nitrogen and Phosphorus are banned, not other nutrients such as potassium, iron, molasses, kelp, humic, carbon, micronutrients, or soil amendments.

We recommend lawn applications throughout the year, but of different nutrients to keep your lawn healthy. We believe a healthy soil will equal a healthy lawn, so we feed the soil just as much as we feed the lawn to...