Frequently Asked Questions about Landscape Irrigation for Florida-Friendly Landscaping Ordinances
This FAQ link answers many questions but there is still more research being done by the U of F to get the best answers for protecting our environment.
State bill 494 is important since it will require BMP training for all lawn companies that apply fertilizer. In addition, it may ease watering restrictions for those who incorporate moisture or rain sensors as part of their irrigation system. Research shows that watering twice a week with less water improves turf and reduces water usage. U of F research also shows that there is little difference in water requirements between the different turf grasses. Turf uses more water in the spring when coming out of dormancy and then again in the fall when establishing roots
Phosphorus leaching from turf fertilizers is a big problem for our water supply. St Augustine turf uses and holds phosphorous, the P in N-P-K on your fertilizer bag, 30 times better than highly promoted Empire Zoysia. That also holds true for nitrogen recycling making St. Augustine more environmentally friendly than Zoysia.
The best thing you can do with your St. Augustine lawn is to only fertilize in the fall and only use a slow release N-P-K formula. Lawns overgrow and become thatched if you fertilize in the growing season when they do not need it. Overfertilized lawns are more prone to disease and insects and then require properly timed pesticide sprays to prevent decline. If you want a greener lawn in the summer you should just use iron fertilizer.
Empire Zoysia has shallow roots and goes dormant faster than St. Augustine. It is susceptible to brown patch and requires no less water than St. Augustine turf. It is slow to spread and slow to come out of winter dormancy.
The governor has not to signed the into law the bill that ties Florida Friendly Landscaping principles to protect homeowners rights if they employ them in their communities that may have laws or deed restrictions requiring turf. According to a story in the Bradenton Herald, Manasota 88 objected to late amendment language that lessens permitting requirements. See also Florida-Friendly Landscapes Pass the Legislature