Five ways to prepare your lawn for when you’re away

If you’re a first-time snowbird, you might be wondering what you need to do to prepare your Florida lawn for your absence when you head back north for the summer.

Or maybe you are a relatively new snowbird who has come back in previous years to find your lawn either dead or overgrown, and you want to have a better experience this year.

Either way, there are several different options for handling your lawn while you are gone so that it looks just as beautiful when you return as it did when you left.

Here are five ways to prepare your lawn for a successful summer while you’re away.

Check for problems a few days before you leave

Shortly before you leave for the summer, you should check your lawn for burn spots, weeds, diseases, and insect problems. It doesn’t take long for these problems to spiral out of control, so you’ll want to address them before leaving.

Give yourself enough time to address the problems and a few days afterward to make sure the fixes work and nothing new crops up before you leave.

Set the sprinkler system

Despite Florida’s rainy summers, your grass will still need to be watered about once a week. You should set your sprinklers to run overnight or very early in the morning, before the heat of the day causes much of that water to evaporate. Your grass needs the moisture more than Florida’s already-humid air does!

You should consider giving a trusted year-round neighbor access to the controls for your sprinkler system so they can adjust the watering schedule during especially wet or dry times so that your lawn isn’t being over- or under-watered.

Consider planting different grass

Annual rye grass is thick, green, and strong during the winter and goes dormant in the spring, making it an ideal option for snowbirds. If you’d prefer your lawn to stay green even when you’re away, year-round grasses that do well in Florida include St. Augustine, Argentine, and Pensacola Bahia.

St. Augustine grass grows well in Florida’s sandy soil, is tolerant of pests, and stays green all year. It does need to be laid down as sod, though, whereas Argentine and Pensacola Bahia grasses can be seeded, which means less water is required to establish the lawn.

Hire a lawn service

It might be tempting just to hire a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn every couple of weeks while you’re gone, but that kid is unlikely to notice or do anything about lawn problems that creep up over the summer like insect problems, weeds, diseases, or dead spots. Plus, how much can you really trust a teenager to do a consistently thorough job?

A lawn service will make sure your lawn looks its best all summer long, ensuring you won’t come back to a mess when you return in the fall or winter. This is especially important if you have other plants or gardens that need taken care of.

Consider Xeriscaping

The lowest-maintenance option would be to redo your entire yard with xeriscaping, which uses native, drought tolerant, and low-maintenance plants for a beautiful yard that doesn’t need any extra watering or attention. You can leave your yard unattended all summer and know that it will still look beautiful when you return.

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) program combines the use of low-maintenance plants with environmentally-friendly practices that help preserve Florida’s resources for generations to come. You may not have a lush, green lawn for your grandkids to play on, but you will be helping to leave them a healthier planet.