December, with its cool temperatures and largely rain-free days, is a great time for Florida gardeners and homeowners to get landscaping projects done. Transplant a tree. Remove mistletoe. Plant winter grass. Don’t forget to water lawn turf and monitor for brown patch fungus!
October: that in-between month that feels like one foot is still in summer while the other foot steps into fall. Some citrus varieties have ripe fruit now. It’s a good month to add new turf, trees, and shrubs and to start planning for cool-season annuals.
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.
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.
Put your grass clippings, leaves, and food scraps to work. Combine them in a compost pile or bin and mix with oxygen and water to eventually yield a nutrient-rich humus that can be utilized in your landscape as a soil amendment or fertilizer.
Florida turf grasses must be relatively robust and able to tolerate high temperatures and high humidity. In coastal locations, turf grasses must also tolerate salt air and, often, salt water irrigation. Grasses that meet these demanding requirements include Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bahia, Centipede and Seashore Paspalum.