As we have discussed in the past, keeping your lawn and landscaping healthy in the South Florida climate takes knowledge and diligence. Harsh sunlight, periods of drought, and exceptionally rainy summers all contribute to conditions which can prove hazardous to your trees, plants, and lawn. While many understand how to rectify the situation when there is not enough water, it can be more difficult to spot an overwatered tree or lawn.
There are two ways you can have an overwatered lawn – by applying too much water during a drought, or after experiencing an overabundance of rain. How can you tell if your trees and plants are overwatered? Here are some tips.
The easiest way to spot an overwatered tree is by noticing that the soil surrounding the tree is perpetually damp and soggy. It is dangerous to the life of the tree that this situation occurs, as the excess water is displacing air pockets which the tree roots need. Without enough air getting to the roots, the tree cannot be healthy. An overwatered tree will either have leaves which appear healthy but are brittle and break easily; or will exhibit new growth which withers too quickly and does not achieve full, deep color.
You cannot regulate the amount of rain which a tree is subject to. However, you may wish to observe if the base of the tree is vulnerable to an excessive runoff – for instance if water runs downhill towards the tree, or of a drain pipe flows directly to the base of the tree.
If the tree is young and the Sarasota area is experiencing a lot of seasonal rain, you may wish to stake the tree. Young roots may not be able to withstand the constantly soggy soil and the tree may be vulnerable.
When plants appear wilted, most people assume that they need more water. However, before turning on the sprinkler system, check the soil surrounding your plants. If it is damp or soggy, your plants do not need any additional water. In fact, they need less. Plants which are overwatered often appear wilted and unhealthy. The reason is similar to that of trees – air pockets surrounding the roots of the plants deliver needed oxygen to them; but if those air pockets are full of water, the roots instead drown.
In addition to wilting, plant leaves will often turn brown or yellow, develop wart-like blisters, or drop their leaves when they are getting too much water. You may wish to completely turn off your sprinkler systems during the summer months, and manually water your plant beds when you haven’t had rain for several days.
An unhealthy lawn can make your entire property look run-down and unkempt. Like plants and trees, your grass growth can be severely harmed if it is drowning – just as surely as if it is thirsty.
Overwatering your lawn, however, yields some visible signs which are not are prevalent in other areas. For instance, too much water on your turf can cause insect infestation, an overgrowth of thatch, and may cause you to be overrun by weeds. Soggy grass feels spongy when you walk on it, and can also develop a fungus which makes grass “oily” and slippery, much like a decaying piece of lettuce.
Many of our summer rainstorms are followed closely by a return of the sun and heat. Therefore, it is rare that overwatering of the lawn is caused by rain (although sometimes the rain can be relentless). If areas of your lawn are exhibiting signs of overwatering, check your sprinkler output and regulate how often you irrigate during the rainy season.
Staying vigilant regarding watering, mowing and fertilizing – not to mention staying on top of weeds and insects – may seem like a lot of work, but it is worth having a beautiful lawn and property. If you need help, check out all of the lawn care products at Big Earth Landscape Supply. We are here to help you maintain a beautiful landscape.