Common Florida Outdoor Pests
No doubt South Florida is a tropical paradise; our lawns and yards display exotic tropical plants, beautiful palms, and lush lawns. Lawns and yards in South Florida provide an oasis for most homeowners and their families and unfortunately, numerous outdoor pests also thrive in these spaces. Among the common Florida outdoor pests, chinch bugs can cause major plant damage. Feeding on the undersides of leaves, whiteflies often attack and even kill ficus trees and hedges, causing plant leaves to yellow or drop off entirely, often covering the plant with a flocculent, white sticky material.
Those lovely hibiscus flowers in your yard are vulnerable to mealybugs that can seriously injure and attack host plants. Fire ants can cause major crop damage and also endanger people and pets with bites that range from painful to potentially fatal. Some of these South Florida pests are only active during certain seasons but many can be active all year round – your lawn pest control plan should be too.
Common Florida Garden Pests
In South Florida, garden pests can endanger your flower or vegetable garden. Along with whiteflies, armyworms can take down veggie crops, including corn, peas, and tomatoes. Finding beetles in your garden? Japanese beetles and red flour beetles, along with other beetles, can pose threats to plants, certain types of vegetable gardens, and even garden grass.
Fire ants are frequently found in Florida gardens, and fire ant bites have been known to even cause allergic shocks in some. While mulch is an excellent way to save water and discourage weeds, an overabundance of mulch can be an accidental home for Florida garden pests. Need protection from these common types of garden pests? Just Call Hulett Today!
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Many homeowners think their trees and shrubs require little attention after planting but watering, fertilization, and proper pruning are important to your landscape investment. While your lawn lies dormant and weather conditions tend to be wet, spring and summer weeds could be lurking in the grass. Lawns thinned by disease or insects are especially susceptible to invasions of weedy grasses and broadleaf weeds.
Most lawn diseases are caused by fungi, although grass species vary in their susceptibility to particular diseases. Other factors affecting disease development include your lawn’s overall health, the prevalence of certain diseases, weather, seasonal conditions, and lawn maintenance practices. Proper mowing and watering can help bolster your lawn’s resistance to disease when combined with one of Hulett’s Lawn Spraying & Fertilization programs.
Still need more lawn advice? Our experts will address your concerns and questions during our FREE inspection of your lawn and shrubs.
Healthy Lawn and Landscape
A smooth, dense lawn is attained by frequent and regular cutting at a constant height. Mowing too infrequently and improper watering can cause thatch build-up. Mowing too low can also cause problems in turf quality. Constant low mowing reduces the density and vigor of St. Augustine grass. Also, weed problems in St. Augustine grass lawns can usually be attributed to a low mowing height and improper watering.
Mowing Frequency and Heights
Hulett recommends mowing often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the blade height is removed per mowing. If your average lawn height is 3 inches, then it should be mowed when it grows to a height of 4 to 4.5 inches. Grass plants are stressed every time the lawn is mowed but removing only one-third of the leaf blade at each mowing can minimize stress. Leave as much leaf surface as possible for photosynthesis to provide food for regrowth.
Good Mowing Practices
In addition to keeping your mower clean, your blade sharp, and following the manufacturer’s recommendations for use and service, other responsible mowing practices, include:
- Pick up stones, sticks, and other debris before mowing
- Never mow wet turf with a rotary mower because clippings can clog the
- Mow in a different direction every time the lawn is cut to help
prevent wear patterns
- Remove clippings or redistribute these by re-mowing or lightly raking
- Adjust the cutting height on a driveway or sidewalk, using a ruler to
measure the distance between the ground and the blade
- Never fil a hot mower with gasoline
- Always wear appropriate footwear when mowing
Watering Your Lawn
For a Healthy Lawn and Landscape
- Avoid over-watering to deter excess weeds and plant diseases.
- Water lawn and ornamentals at the appropriate time of day and for the right amount of time; avoid frequent light watering as this causes shallow root systems.
- Develop deep root systems by watering only when the first signs of wilt occur – spots that turn bluish-gray, footprints that remain in the grass longer than they should, and many leaf blades folded in half, lengthwise.
Most home irrigation systems contain automatic controls that run your sprinklers, providing convenience if you are out of town for long periods of time. However, unless you are able to adjust the run cycle to compensate for the weekly rainfall, this convenience can be detrimental to your lawn and shrubs. When using supplemental watering, remember to water enough to wet the root zone, when your grass starts showing signs of stress. In South Florida, sandy soils need ¾ to 1 inch of water and don’t need water again until grass shows signs of wilt. Conditioning your lawn to survive for several days without wilting between irrigations or rainfall may take up to 6 weeks but this helps the root system develop and grow deeper in the soil.
Sprinkler System Tips
Sprinkler systems need maintenance but you may not notice it because they run when you’re asleep or just waking up. Your lawn’s sprinkler system should be regularly checked and serviced to get the maximum benefits from it. Check for an even spray pattern, replace heads if leaking, check that valves function properly and check for correct timing on your system controller.
- Make sure sprinkler system zones apply water uniformly; don’t mix head types or let the reach of two sprinklers overlap excessively.
- Wait until turf stress symptoms are noticeable before applying water – grass with a bluish-gray color, folded leaf blades, and/or inability to recover from foot or vehicular traffic.
- Run sprinkler systems early in the morning before grass heats up.
Mulch discourages weed growth, conserves water in your landscape and benefits your plant beds and leafy trees. However, too much mulch around the perimeter of your home can be a good hiding place for insects and, in some cases, attract uninvited pests into your home. Mulch can be applied around established plants at any time. Newly set plants should be mulched after they are planted and thoroughly watered. Once plants in a ground cover or shrub bed have formed a solid mass by touching one another, the mulching requirement is reduced.
Organic mulches gradually decompose and need replenishing to function effectively. Grass clippings and leaves decompose very rapidly and need to be frequently replenished. Cypress mulch, pine bark, and wood chips break down very slowly and only need to be replenished every year or two.
Restoring Color to Organic Mulch
Most organic mulches will change color with age from their original colors to a weathered gray color. To restore color to mulch, try shallow raking your existing mulch to restore the freshly mulched look.
Inorganic mulches, such as gravel, pebbles, and stones rarely need replenishing. Still, small particles will eventually move down into the soil and a thin layer will need to be added from time to time. Inorganic mulch material is ideal to use around the perimeter of your home.
Mulch entire plant beds with a layer of material. For individual trees in lawns, create a circle of mulch about two feet in diameter for each inch of trunk diameter. Increase the mulched area as the tree grows. Keep mulch 1 to 2 inches from stems and trunks of plants to avoid stem or trunk rot that can destroy plants.
Benefits of Mulching
Mulch prevents water loss from the soil through evaporation and creates a more uniform soil temperature, while also deterring weeds. As organic mulches decay, they add nutrients to the soil, potentially improving soil structure. Adding mulch provides uniform color and interesting texture to your beautiful landscape.
Hulett Environmental Services offers a full array of lawn pest, plant disease, weed control, and specialized fertilization services to meet your landscape’s specific needs. To discuss what would work best for your lawn, Just Call Hulett!
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