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The approaching cooler weather has those of us in pest control shifting gears from termites and ants to interior pests like grain beetles and spiders. The UPC lawn program is also going through a seasonal change. In addition to changing our “recipe” to meet the needs of the lawns and shrubs we service, there are a few things homeowners can do to support the changing needs of Florida turf grasses.

In a recent conversation with our lawn technician, Craig, he and I discussed items we regularly ask our lawn customers to do as winter approaches. I thought I would summarize for anyone with St. Augustine grass wishing to make the most of the cool season.


One of the most important requests we make is often overlooked by homeowners: please limit watering to one day each week. Grass doesn’t grow much during the winter and doesn’t need as much water.

Overwatering leads to fungus and ineffective weed control, since the products we apply get washed right through the treatment zone without having much effect. Too much water can turn your beautiful green summer lawn into a yellow-brown mess in no time at all! It won’t turn green again until spring, and that can be a long time to wait.

A good rule of thumb is to reduce your irrigation to one time each week in the fall when you set your clocks back, and return to twice weekly when the clocks “spring” forward. You can find complete watering guidelines on the University of Florida’s IFAS website (a valuable tool if you haven’t explored it much). 


Another sin against your lawn in the cool season is mowing it too short. Homeowners might be tempted to do a hearty haircut so it’s easier to rake up leaves, but please resist! Too short a cut damages the grass plant, and since it’s not growing quickly this time of year, it won’t be able to repair itself as it might in summer months.

Mowing too short also stresses the grass plant in general, making it susceptible to fungi attack. The shortest St. Augustine grass should ever be cut is 3 ½ inches.

On the subject of mowing, we advise you to continue to mow even if it’s only once or twice a month. This will encourage new growth even if it’s slow and avoids grass getting too long (and then damaged when it undergoes a heavy mow).

By following these simple guidelines, you can get the most from your lawn even during the chillier months. They won’t be as lush as they are in summer, of course, but with proper care, they’ll be ready to bounce back in spring when Mother Nature gives the sign! We will be right there with her.


Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.

Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control