Achieving a lush, healthy lawn in our tropical climate, almost seems a no-brainer. Warmer climates however, place unique demands on yards and gardens. Sunnier, high-humidity environments like ours result in faster plant growth than in relatively cooler parts of the world; but watching your grass grow and grow and grow can be just as problematic and watching it dry off and die. Extreme humidity, intense heat, and heavy rains are other issues that frequently plague tropical climate lawns and other plants. To ensure your lawn does not resemble a jungle, it is important for maintain regular pruning and other upkeep, throughout the year.
During the hot humid months, from April through to October, lawns are in their element as regular summer storms bring torrential rain. This usually means lush green leaf growth that, at times, appears to be out of control. Good lawn maintenance can keep this rapid growth period at bay as well as maintain a green, healthy lawn during the cooler months.
An important part of lawn maintenance is checking the pH of your lawn during the wet season. Fertilizing is not recommended at that time, as it will promote vigorous leaf growth, which, for now, is not necessary. More than likely, you will already be watching your lawn grow before your eyes yet be unable to mow due to the rain. Instead, you can apply lime and gypsum to the soil as these acts as a soil conditioner and keeps the pH up. Due to the region's high rainfall, soils can become very acidic which can affect the health of the plant growth. The addition of lime to your yard care routine, maintains a good pH balance and promotes the uptake of soil nutrients. Gypsum is a clay breaker. One of the reasons soils is compacted and like concrete in most backyards is due to initial building activity. Usually, much of the topsoil is taken away during home construction and the ground is compacted making it difficult for water to penetrate the soil. Gypsum is good for breaking down clay soils enabling the water to penetrate.
Another wet-weather-must is to keep lawn mowing equipment in good working order. There is nothing worse when there is a break in the weather, and you are unable to mow because of failing lawn equipment due to poor maintenance. Be prepared by having mowers and other equipment fueled and ready to go. Sharp mower blades are essential to ensure the lawn has a clean, even cut. Unbalanced, blunt blades often leave a yard looking hacked and untidy. The success to an even, tidy lawn is weekly trims in the summer months, whenever possible. This will keep lawn clipping to a minimum. During the cooler and less wet months, mow every two to three weeks to keep the lawns immaculate.
After the wet season around October-November, is the perfect time to apply good a quality slow-release fertilizer to keep the lush growth achieved during the wet season. Once you have applied fertilizer, water in well as this will help keep thick leaf cover, reduce moisture loss, and keep your lawn actively growing. Pull the mower deck up one notch to leave more leaf on the grass, as this will also help reduce moisture loss within the soil.
In November, reapply the slow-release fertilizer before generally cooler temps set in. This is a must-do job as it will keep lawns green and healthy throughout the tropic's mild winter. Depending on your variety of turf, follow a recommended water schedule; whether weekly or fortnightly. This watering method is better than small top ups every night as it promotes the deep root system growth needed for a healthy lawn.
April is another good time to apply slow-release fertilizer as it will help the recovery from the winter months. Again, a good, deep watering is required. Now is the time to lower the mower deck back to the summer mowing height.
May brings spring and a burst of activity, completing the annual cycle. Birds are building nests; flowers are blooming, and worms are getting ready to launch their attack on lush green lawns. Healthy green lawns are perfect sites for pest eggs. An environmentally safe pesticide should be on hand during springtime to counterattack and ensure a healthy lawn, year-round.