You may not know that the soil in and around Duval County is generally very poor, especially around housing developments where the ground had been scraped to sand in order to even out the dips and bumps. At that point, some developers will truck in a thin layer of topsoil, before laying sod on top.
The best thing that you can do is provide some decaying organic matter to the soil (grass clippings), and continue to annually sprinkle topsoil evenly over the entire surface. Of course, fertilizer is a must for grass – once a year adding minor constituents (magnesium, manganese, iron, etc.) to the commonly applied nitrogen, phosphorus (tiny amounts) and potassium mixtures. If you have mulched areas, the very best mulch you can apply is live-oak leaves . . . they decay slowly, and keep the weeds down the best of any mulch because they form flat, overlapping layers which keeps sunlight from penetrating and producing weed germination. If you don’t want live oak leaves, the next best is pine straw or pine bark mini-nuggets. Contrary to common belief, this will not acidify the soil. Please don’t use cypress mulch, since it is causing a scarcity of cypress trees in this area.
Of course, to best take advantage of the above suggestions, you should have a pH test of your yard to determine if you have acid soil or not. Directions for this obtaining soil to give to the Extension Office can be found online at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss494 or call the Extension Office at 904-255-7450.
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