ABWA Presentation July 9, 2008
common types of lawn grasses in Florida are Bahia, St.
Augustine and Bermuda grass. Bahia requires the least
amount of maintenance, but it is not salt-tolerant.
Bahia also is prone to damage by mole crickets. St.
Augustine is used in coastal areas because it is
salt-tolerant, but it requires more fertilizer and
water. It also can be prone to pests, such as chinch
bugs. Bermuda, which is used on golf-course greens,
requires the most fertilizer, pesticides and water, plus
careful mowing. Because it requires intensive
maintenance, it is not recommended for home landscapes.
applying fertilizer use a maximum of one pound of
nitrogen per 1,000 square feet twice a year -- once in
March again in September. Or you can apply one-half
pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet four times per
year - March, May, September and early November.
Floridians water too much. Over watering depletes our
water supply, makes plants pest prone, and adds to
storm-water runoff. Choose drought-resistant plants,
especially Florida natives, and plant them in the right
spots. Group plants according to their water (and light)
needs to simplify irrigation. Do not irrigate turf,
trees and shrubs the same. The biggest problem I hear
people having is with their oleanders and bougainvilleas
refusing to bloom. Only to find out they are fertilizing
and watering the heck out of them when they should not
be feeding or watering them at all. Oleanders are
popular in the desert town of Las Vegas because they
thrive on abuse and scant watering.
clocking back an irrigation system to once a week when
there has not been any rain, you can reduce water bills,
fungal diseases and mowing. Remember, the more you water
the faster your lawn grows and the more it needs to be
you have an automatic sprinkler system, install a rain
shut-off device or sensor that will override the system
when enough rain has fallen.
Water in the early morning between 4 and 7 a.m. -- this
is the best time because temperature and wind speeds are
low and evaporation is reduced. Also, grass will be less
susceptible to fungus if water is applied at the time
dew normally forms.
grass: Apply 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch of water when the
grass shows signs of distress -- turning bluish-gray or
leaf blades folding. Don't apply more water until
gradual reductions in irrigation plants can tolerate
less water. Some people use no irrigation, yet have
healthy plants -- me for instance. Water less in cooler
months (November-March), and turn off automatic systems
in the summer if rainfall is consistent.
Mowing, Pruning and Raking
Trimming some plants can help enhance the beauty of your
Florida Yard. This is also an area of maintenance where
you can reduce the workload by doing things the
environmentally friendly way.
example, if you've selected slow-growing plants, the
amount of pruning will be reduced. Also, less pruning is
required if plants are placed so that when they mature,
they don't grow over walkways, driveways or against
buildings. If your yard isn't grass intensive, less
mowing is an obvious work, time and fuel saver.
St. Augustine and Bahia turf grass should be kept at a
minimum height of three to four inches and longer in the
shade. If cut shorter the plants will be stressed. Each
mowing should remove no more than one-third of the leaf
blade, and the clippings should remain on the lawn to
Mulching mowers cut grass into smaller pieces, speeding
decomposition -- I alternate between using the chute on
my lawn mower and blocking it to use the recycler
Grass clippings can also be mixed with leaves and twigs
to create mulch that provides nutrients for your plants.
Floridians avoid having deciduous trees in their yards
because fallen leaves require raking. But deciduous
trees help reduce energy costs by shading the house in
summer and allowing sunshine to heat the house in winter
when their leaves fall. Don't rake under trees because
the dropped leaves are good mulch for the plant.
Collecting leaves and pine needles by raking provides a
source of mulch that is free. If your yard generates
more leaf mulch than you can use, compost the material
or share some with a neighbor. When pruning trees and
shrubs, toss small cuttings into a compost pile or
behind a shrub to avoid putting piles of brush out for
Applying a layer of mulch around trees, shrubs, plant
beds and on any exposed soil area will reduce water
loss, control weeds and prevent runoff.
Facts about mulch:
2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around most plants reduces
evaporation from the soil's surface, moderates soil
temperatures and suppresses weeds.
Mulch can replace turf or ground covers in areas that
are difficult to mow, irrigate or maintain. Mulches also
can be used in shady areas where plants will not grow.
Mulch requires no maintenance, except for occasional
additions and weeding.
Use mulch that originates in your own landscape by using
leaves, pine needles, grass and shrub clippings. Avoid
using cypress mulch because it depletes cypress
Mulch can provide a design element in your landscape,
adding a contrast of color and texture that complements
Reduce the chances of rot by avoiding piles of mulch
against plant stems or trunks. Citrus trees are
particularly prone to rot from this. Give a 3-4” clear
space around tree trunks.
Avoiding Pest Problems
which plants can tolerate the conditions in your yard
and plant them. Concentrate on pest-resistant varieties.
easy on water and fertilizer. Over watering and over
fertilizing cause excessive growth, making them
vulnerable to insects and disease
Mowing grass too short and severely shearing trees and
shrubs weakens them, inviting pests. Do not hurricane
cut your palms. Mow grass to the proper height and prune
selectively. Remember, leaves are necessary to produce
food for the plant.
If You Have a Lawn Care Service
their cooperation to:
Monitor for pests rather than having them apply sprays
chemical pesticides only when less-toxic methods fail
and post a sign to alert neighbors that chemicals have
Apply slow-release fertilizer, and only if fertilizer is
Avoid fertilizers containing weed killer or insecticide.
Leave grass clippings on the lawn and use other yard
waste as mulch or compost.