Preparing Your Florida Lawn & Garden for Fall

Pumpkins. Pumpkin on the beach. Autumn season composition. Two pumpkins sitting in the sand on a sunny day.

Fall brings crisp mornings and cooler temperatures in the evenings, making it the perfect time to prepare your lawn and landscape for colder weather, spruce up for the holidays and complete other fall lawn and landscape chores.

For the Lawn

Reestablish an existing lawn – Touching up your existing lawn after a brutal, Florida summer is pretty easy to do and fall is the perfect time to get those areas addressed before weed seeds move in and take over bare spots.

  • Measure the areas that need attention to determine how many square feet needs to be planted or seeded. To do this, take the length of the area in feet and multiply it by the width of the area in feet. Example: 12′ x 26′ = 312 square feet
  • Most turf grass varieties can be purchased by the pallet, piece, or plug. Bahia for example can be purchased by the pallet, piece and by seed.
  • Pallets of sod cover 400 square feet and a piece of sod measures 16” x 24” which covers a 2.66 square feet area. Plugs are packed 18 per tray and can be spaced from 6” to 18” apart depending on how much patience you have for them to fill in.
  • Pensacola Bahia seed is packaged in a 5lb or 50lb bags. Bahia seed can be applied at the rate of 5lbs per 1,000 SF.
  • Prior to install sod pieces or plugs, use Terra Trax from our Yeti Trax Collection for best results. Terra Trax is a soil amendment and root stimulant that supports new root growth, by promoting root strength and plant health.
  • Use Lawnifi Grow after installation of pieces or plugs. Not only does it alleviate transplant shock, but it also reduces establishment time. Plus, with the convenient hose attachment, it is easy to use.

overseed with rye in south florida
Overseed With Rye Grass Seed

Overseed Lawns with Rye Grass for Winter Color – Overseeding is the practice of using temporary grass (Rye) which is seeded into a permanent lawn (St. Augustine, Zoysia or Bermuda) to provide winter color. Rye is usually seeded between mid-October to December and lasts well into spring.

  • Measure the area you will be seeding so that you can determine how many square feet needs to be seeded. Rye can be applied at a rate of 5-10lbs per 1,000 SF.
  • Water is the most important step in establishment and should be applied lightly and carefully until the seeds have germinated. Do not overwater as this may cause seeds to wash away and allow disease to set in.

Buy It Now

Man pushing fertilizer spreader in a southern Florida healthy and vibrant lawn

Fertilize – The summer ban has lifted. Now is the time to fertilize existing lawns with either our 3 month slow release Big Earth 15-0-15 or our Florikan 19-0-19 controlled release, 6 month blend — both high quality blends with plenty of minors.

  • Bayer 3 in 1 Weed & Feed for Southern Lawns is a great product that kills broadleaf weeds including dollarweed, dandelion and clover. Plus, it prevents broadleaf and grass weeds, including crabgrass for up to 6 months in St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia. One 12.5lb bag covers 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Other available products include Atrazine, Fertilome Dollar Weed Control, Weed Out with Trimec for Bahia and Image or Sedge Hammer for sedges.
  • Still struggling with summer weeds? Kill them to the root with professional herbicides like Roundup QuickPRO or Ranger Pro and gain back control this fall. These products can be a huge help controlling unwanted weeds along driveways, sidewalks, fences and foundations, around walkways, mulched areas and established ornamentals.
  • Don’t want to mix products? Try DuraZone, product that combines glyphosate to kill existing weeds, with a pre-emergent that keeps new weeds from germinating for 6 months!
  • Make sure your herbicide of choice is labeled for the weeds you are trying to control and for your turf variety.
  • Always read and follow all product instructions for best results.

Pests – Sod web worms have been quite prevalent this season and you may still see chinch bugs, mole crickets and grubs as we move through the Fall season.

  • Bayer Complete Insect Killer systemically controls lawn feeding insects for up to 3 months.
  • Existing problem? Use Bayer 24 Hour Grub Control to knock down all lawn insects, then apply the Bayer Complete for 3 month residual control.
  • Sod web worms only? Easy: OMRI certified Thuricide containing BT is specifically for caterpillars and does a great job.

Fire Ants – Treat whole yard with Extinguish Plus fire ant bait in the Fall and Spring

Disease – Fall does bring relief to Florida lawns as rain and temperatures decrease. However, there are cool whether pathogens like brown patch that can kick in when temperatures drop, plus your cultural methods may be conducive to disease. As always, prevention and early detection are the keys to control.

  • Propiconazole (Bayer Fungus Control for Lawns and Fertilome Liquid Systemic Fungicide), azoxystrobin, and thiophanate methyl are popular broad spectrum fungicides that work well on most of our Florida, warm weather diseases.
  • OMRI certified Garden Friendly Fungicide is a biofungicide/bactericide option for an organic approach. The active ingredient is Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747 and is labeled for vegetables, fruits and nuts, ornamentals and turf.

For the Garden

Fertilize – everything in the landscape.

Watch for pest damage – Until fall temperatures drop, you will probably still see insect activity in your landscape and garden.

  • Slugs and snails? Try HI-YIELD Snail and Slug Bait.
  • Got bromeliads? Apply Mosquito Bits, an organic larvaecide to containers and prevent mosquito problems before they begin.
  • Conserve Naturalyte (OMRI) containing spinsosad works great on thrips and caterpillars, plus it also has fire ant mound drenching instructions on the label.
  • Organocide 3 in 1 Garden Spray is an OMRI listed insecticide, fungicide and miticide. Effective on all stages: eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults of small soft bodied insects, scale and fungal diseases. Derived from natural oils it is safe to use around children and pets, plus it does not harm beneficial insects.
  • Fertilome Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench provides 12 month systemic control on trees and shrubs.
  • Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care provides fertilizer, insect control and disease control for 6 weeks on flowering plants.

Pruning – Overgrown, leggy plants? Best to trim by mid-October. Use the tool the professionals love: Felco #2 Pruner

Mulch – Add or replace mulch after summer rains.

  • If your old mulch has broken down enough, it turns into soil which is great, but it does nothing to prevent weeds and retain moisture in your landscape beds.
  • Add no more than 4” to discourage weeds and never apply close to stems, they need to breath!

Color – Replant container gardens and flower beds that are in decline.

  • Use the same potting soil in your containers that the nursery professionals use in Florida: Fafard #3B. You will notice a difference! If you want to reduce your watering time consider adding Hortabsorb water management gel.
  • Good cool season annual replacements include begonia, geraniums, sunpatiens, alyssum, dianthus, straw flower, violas, dusty miller, pansies and petunias.
  • For long-term color try perennials such as bush daisy, pentas, porterweed, lantana, perennial salvias, plumbago, persion shield and golden shrimp plant.

Overall, keeping a beautiful lawn and garden throughout the fall and winter requires vigilance and a keen eye. Look for signs of pests, scorched areas, or “drowning” plants.

Adjust your care accordingly, as our weather can be unpredictable. With the proper mowing, fertilizing and watering, your Tampa area lawn and garden can be gorgeous year round.

For expert advice – and the best products to fight pests and disease – stop by any one of our Big Earth Landscape Supply locations in Tampa, Bradenton, Palmetto or Sarasota or shop online.

We are committed to making sure you have the most beautiful lawn in your neighborhood – every season of the year.