Problems in the Landscape
There are many times that bad problems happen in the landscape and this is frequently true for newcomers to Florida. Here are some of the main reasons for problem landscapes:
• Overwatering – significant numbers of problems are caused by overwatering. Irrigation should supplement rainfall, not the other way around. Run a “tin can” test to determine what your irrigation output is (put cans in landscape and measure amount per rotation). You need to set your timer so that you only get ½ inch per irrigation time (for twice per week) or ¾ inch for one time per week. Keep a rain gauge to determine how much rain we get in a given week. Assuming you don’t get ¾ of an inch to 1 inch of rain, then you can run your irrigation.
• Overplanting – when planting a new landscape using younger plants, you need to take into consideration how big the plant material will get in the long run. Frequently people have a tendency to plant some things- think it looks too sparse and plant some more things- which is going to lead to overcrowding and poor air circulation which will lead to disease and insect issues.
• Over Pruning – When pruning your landscape plants, try not to prune in exactly the same place every time. This is going to lead to dead spots or naked areas. Allow plants to grow out and inch or two before trimming back. Over pruning can also lead to disease and insect issues. Your plants don’t have to be perfectly shaped “little balls” all the time.
• Grass issues are frequently caused by overwatering but also by mowing too low or too frequently. If you have a landscaper cutting your grass, remind them that your St Augustine grass should not be cut lower than 3”-4”. Likewise in the winter especially, it is not necessary to cut every week- despite the fact you may be paying monthly. Cutting too low stresses your lawn and makes it more susceptible to freeze damage, drought damage, insect and disease damage and fungal problems.
• Over Fertilizing – Be wise in your fertilizing and always keep in mind that fertilizing too much or too frequently will not allow the plants to take it up. This excess ends up in the ground water. Likewise, more is not better as it applies to fertilizers. You can badly burn plants by over fertilizing. In the case of your grass, resist the temptation to fertilize too early in the spring. Your grass is dormant and you will only be fertilizing the weeds. If you do your own grass, see our online Lawn Calendar!
• Over Use of Pesticides – We at Verdego usually recommend organic products for pest problems but you still need to follow directions explicitly. Like fertilizers, more is not better. Most products are contact sprays- which means if you are not seeing a bug, you are not accomplishing anything. We never recommend spraying “willy-nilly”! Only spray when there is a reason to spray. Always spray before 7am or after 7pm – never spray in the sun.