Thatch is a layer of organic matter between the base of grass blades and the soil. Layers of thatch thicker than one inch prevent air, water, and nutrients from reaching roots in the soil. They can be removed with a power rake or vertical mower.
Filling in bare or dead patches of lawn can be easily accomplished by installing grass plugs or laying down new squares of sod. Soil should be level and free of weeds and dead grass before installation; afterward, thorough watering is important.
Florida lawn diseases include Rust, Fairy Ring, Gray Leaf Spot, Brown Patch Fungus, Dollar Spot, and Take-All Root Rot. Hot, humid, wet summers create hospitable growing conditions for these diseases, which must be managed by fungicides and cultural controls such as proper mowing.
Florida lawn weeds can be controlled through proper mowing, hand removal, and selective herbicide applications. Preemergence herbicides must be applied before weed seeds germinate; postemergence herbicides are applied after weeds have emerged. Effective weed management usually requires both kinds of herbicide applications.
Many garden bugs are beneficial to the landscape in that their diet consists of harmful insects. From lady bugs to dragonflies to earwigs, beneficial insects will consume mosquitoes, lawn-destroying chinch bugs, and soft-bodied pests that compromise leaf health and appearance.
With summer around the corner, homeowners responsible for their own lawn care should make sure they have the mowers best suited for their yards. Two important additional tools—edgers and string trimmers—take care of hard-to-reach areas and create clean, finished lines.
From oil sprays to plant products to beneficial bugs, a wide array of natural pest controls is available to the environmentally conscious homeowner or landscaper. Most are easily found online or can be found at garden centers or nurseries.
While pine bark nuggets and red cypress chips are typical ground cover choices for Florida property owners, a host of other options are available: hardwood mulches, pine straw, rubber mulch, rock, lava, plants, pine cones, nut hulls, and tumbled glass chunks.
Invasive plants are non-native species that, when left to grow unchecked, spread over plant communities and alter the local ecology. Florida is home to myriad invasive plant species from palms to grasses to trees. Educated homeowners should avoid installing these plants in their landscaping.