Spring Lawn and Garden Tips

Temperatures are heating up in South Florida, so it is the perfect time to get your lawn and landscape in shape with our Spring Lawn and Garden Tips. For quick shopping, click the links to gather everything you need to get you started and get you through the season.

For the Lawn

Water Smart – Check for damaged heads and areas that need to be adjusted; Lawns can have too much of a good thing!

  • Lawns need approximately ½” to ¾” of water 1x per week when showing signs of wilt (folded blades).
  • Water in the early mornings, so that the plant can take up water during the day and leave the soil relatively dry by night, preventing disease.
  • If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider adding one.

Weeds – Your lawn doesn’t need to be perfect to be functional or beautiful.  However, if weeds are bugging you there are several products on the market that can help you gain control of broadleaf weeds and sedges.

  • Bayer 3 in 1 Weed & Feed for Southern Lawns kills broadleaf weeds including dollarweed, dandelion and clover. Plus, it prevents broadleaf and grass weeds, including crabgrass UP TO 6 MONTHS in St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia.  Apply in spring after the lawn is actively growing, weeds are small and temperatures do not exceed 90 degrees.  One 12.5lb bag covers 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Other available products include Atrazine, Fertilome Dollar Weed Control, Weed Out and Trimec for Bahia and Image and Sedge Hammer for sedges.
  • Make sure your herbicide of choice is labeled for the weeds you are trying to control and for your turf variety. Read and follow all instructions for best results.
  • Can’t get the weed eater to start? No worries!  Non-selective post-emergent professional herbicides like Roundup QuickPRO and Ranger Pro can be a huge help controlling unwanted weeds along driveways, sidewalks, fences and foundations, around walkways, mulched areas and established ornamentals. Add a pre-emergent herbicide like Surflan and keep new weed seeds from germinating in the area you just sprayed for 2-4 months.

Pests – If you had confirmed sod web worm, grub or chinch bug activity last year, consider applying a preventative insecticidal treatment now

Disease – Disease is usually triggered by the combination of improper cultural management practices and excess irrigation/rainfall.  Prevention and or early detection and routine treatment are the keys to control.

  • Propiconazole (Bayer Fungus Control for Lawns and Fertilome Liquid Systemic Fungicide), azoxystrobin, and thiophanate methyl are popular broad spectrum fungicides that work well on most of our Florida warm weather diseases.
  • OMRI certified Garden Friendly Fungicide is biofungicide/bactericide. The active ingredient is Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747 and is labeled for vegetables, fruits and nuts, ornamentals and turf. If caught in its early stages, anthracnose, brown patch, dollar spot, powdery mildew, rust, gray leaf spot and pythium can be controlled in turf.

Fertilize – Beat the blackout and apply your spring lawn fertilizer application prior to June 1st.

  • Florikan’s controlled release 19-0-19 6MO blend and Big Earth 15-0-15 3-4MO slow release blends are appropriate options for our area.

For the Garden

Watch for pest damage – Days are longer and the weather is warmer which triggers a spring flush on most ornamentals.   Keep an eye on all that new growth, you might see caterpillars on bougainvillea, snowbush, oleander and thrips causing flower drop on plants like Hibiscus and leaf damage on ficus and Indian Hawthorn.

Lubber grasshoppers – start out in spring as small black grasshoppers but soon turn into large yellow and orange eating machines 3-4” long with their food of choice being plants in the lily family.

  • Their bright colors are a warning sign to predators that they distasteful or toxic, so nature is not on our side controlling this one.
  • Bonide Systemic Insect Control containing acephate is an option which works best on grasshoppers still in the nymph stage. It is fast acting and lasts several days.
  • The preferred method of treatment by most is scouting and hand removal. What you do with them after they are removed is up to you.

Pruning – Most plants are due for some shaping or pruning and the rule of thumb is to remove approximately 1/3 if needed. Our favorite hand tool for successful spring pruning is the Felco #2 hand pruner.

  • Finish pruning azalea, and other seasonal flowering shrubs after they have bloomed and before early June.
  • Pinch back leggy annuals and remove old blooms to encourage new growth and more flowers.
  • Reshape vines, shrubs and larger trees if they need it.
  • You don’t have to always prune from the top. Consider thinning from the bottom and lifting a shrub up so it’s now in multi-trunk tree form.

Mulch – Add or replace mulch now.

  • If your old mulch has broken down enough, it turns into soil which is great, but it does nothing to prevent weeds and retain moisture in your landscape beds.
  • Add no more than 4” to discourage weeds and never apply close to stems, they need to breath!

Shop our Mulch Selection

Weeds – The best way to control weeds in the garden is to prevent them from getting started in the first place.

  • Weeds are not only unsightly, but they rob desirable plants of water and other nutrients.
  • Preen weed preventer is a granular, pre-emergent herbicide that keeps over 200 broadleaf and grassy weeds from sprouting for up to 3 months.
  • If you have never tried a pre-emergent, try it! You will have more time to sit back and enjoy your garden vs weeding it.

Plant – Spring is the ideal time to add to your garden beds.

  • Protect your investment and reduce both transplant shock and establishment time with Yeti Trax: Myco.
  • Water newly-planted trees and shrubs once daily (unless it rains) for 3-4 weeks, then less frequently till its acclimated.
  • Even a drought resistant plant takes time to establish and become drought resistant.

Palms – Fertilize with a slow release palm fertilizer like our 6 month controlled release, Florikan 8-2-12.  If the palm is in the lawn, fertilize the lawn area surrounding the palm with the palm fertilize too vs a turf blend.

  • Remove dead fronds and flower spikes if desired, however do not hurricane prune; it does nothing for wind resistance and can actually stress and weaken the palm making it more susceptible to the palm weevil and disease.
  • The University of Florida recommends the “9 to 3” rule – remove no more leaves beyond the appearance of a flat horizontal line at the bottom of the canopy.

Fertilize – Work around the summer fertilizer blackout (June 1st-September 30th) by fertilizing your plants now.

Color – Replant container gardens and flower beds that are in decline.

  • Use the same potting soil in your containers that the nursery professionals use in Florida: Fafard 3B,  You will notice a difference!  If you want to reduce your watering time consider adding Hortabsorb water management gel.
  • Good warm season annual replacements include, coleus, salvia, marigolds, torenia, gazania, portulaca and purslane.
  • For long-term color try perennials such as bush daisy, gaillardia, pentas, porterweed, lantana, perennial salvias and my personal favorite the much underused caladium. They are bulbs that disappear in the cooler moths but come back every spring.
  • Caladiums add striking texture and color to beds and borders and range in color, leaf size and light requirements based on variety. Caladiums are not just for the shade!

Herbs and Veggies – You can never go wrong with planting okra, cucumbers, squash, eggplant and peppers this time of year.

  • Herbs such as basil, sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary and mint are not only easy to grow but a flavorful, economical addition to your families meals.
  • If you are limited on time or space to devote to edibles and a raised bed or ground garden sounds daunting, consider Earth Boxes. They are lightweight, durable and ensure gardening success through with their sub irrigation design; stop by and let us tell you about them.