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Nematodes and Grass Health for Florida Lawns

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

Nematodes wreak havoc on poorly tended lawns. Here in Florida, weather conditions are optimal for maintaining healthy lawns with proper care. While nematode roundworms are often inevitable inhabitants in your grass, you can minimize or prevent outbreaks without having to use toxic chemicals that endanger the water supply.

One of the best ways to limit nematode activity is to increase your lawn's tolerance to parasites. Not all nematodes are parasitic. Many cull fungi and bacteria from living grass roots. But the parasitic roundworms use their sharp needles to shoot digestive juices into roots and then absorb nutrients from the grass.
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The problem is that nematodes are microscopic and you may not know you have them. Tell-tale signs are yellowing sections of the lawn, wilting, or bald patches. One way to know for sure is to take a core sample of your lawn and roots and have it analyzed. The Florida Nematode Assay Lab, for example, will run a test for as little as $12.

Optimum Preventive Lawn Care

One of the best ways to strengthen your lawn's nematode resistance is to treat it with consistent, year-round care. Water and fertilize regularly, but avoid heaping too much nitrogen into the soil. Mowing your lawn regularly at moderate heights can also keep stressors down and promote parasite resistance.

If nematodes continue to plague your lawn, perhaps you need to reconsider your grass type. Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and  centipedegrass are especially prone to nematode damage and, since they are Floridian favorites, you might want to mix in Bahiagrass, which tends to do well against flatworms.

If you appreciate your lawn, treat it with loving care.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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