While chores like mowing are not a priority during the winter, Florida homeowners can take on other landscaping tasks during the winter season. Clear and re-mulch garden beds, remove fallen leaves, plant annuals, check for mistletoe, sow ryegrass, and prepare for freezes.
December 21 was the first day of winter. While most regions of the country are now preparing to hunker down and protect their plants from regular freezes and snows, Floridians don’t need to make quite the same adjustment. However, the state still sees a change in weather and growing patterns this season, and landscaping tasks for homeowners shift accordingly.
Since turfgrass becomes dormant over winter, hours spent mowing and maintaining the lawn over the summer can now be dedicated to other tasks. Plus, the mild Florida winter makes for perfect yard work weather.
Clear Garden Beds
Any straggling warm-weather annuals should be kindly removed from your garden beds, containers, and pots by wintertime. Prune and deadhead perennials and give your beds a thorough weeding.
Remove Fallen Leaves
Get in the habit of removing fallen leaves throughout the winter – regular maintenance means no big jobs that consume an entire afternoon. Some trees, like sycamores, have already dropped their leaves; oaks drop theirs later in the season. Instead of letting the leaves pile up and stay wet and soggy, commit to regular leaf clearing.
Use a leaf blower or rake to clear and collect dropped leaves from your lawn or use the mulching blade on your mower to mulch the leaves.
Plant Cool-Season Annuals
Gardeners in most regions of Florida may now plant cool-weather annuals in containers and garden beds. Confirm your hardiness zone and check regional recommendations when selecting and installing new plants.
Re-Mulch Flower Beds
After garden beds have been weeded and cleaned up, warm-weather annuals and fallen leaves have been removed, and cool-weather annuals have been added, we suggest filling your garden beds with a layer of fresh mulch. Not only does new mulch improve the look of flower beds, but it also helps insulate the soil and roots of cold-sensitive plants – especially important in Central and North Florida.
Check Your Trees for Mistletoe
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on host trees such as sycamore, oak, elm, hackberry, and wild cherry. Winter is the best time to spot mistletoe, as many trees drop their leaves. Look for bushy growths on tree branches and immediately call your local lawn care company if you spot any. Infestations can kill their host trees if they are left unmanaged.
Sow Ryegrass to Keep a Green Lawn
As previously mentioned, turfgrass is dormant during this season. To keep your yard green through the winter, sow ryegrass seed over the lawn and water it in. This fine, bright green grass will fill in and color your lawn through the cold season, then die back come spring.
Be Ready for a Freeze
Florida may not see freezing temperatures very often, but one night that dips below 32 degrees can kill landscaping plants. Make sure to be prepared in case of a freeze: have frost blankets, plant covers, buckets, stakes, clothes pins, and ties ready. The purpose of covering vulnerable plants is to trap heat and prevent cold damage. Covers need to surround the plants and reach the ground to make a difference.