Winter Lawn & Garden Tips

December and January tend to be quiet months for the lawn and landscape, but February will start a month of transition. If the groundhog sees his shadow there will be more winter weather in many places, but in our area, spring is just around the corner. In fact, February 15th is the average last frost day and by the end of the month, we can plant warm season crops. Until then, check out the winter lawn and garden tips below and enjoy this beautiful, Florida season.

For the Lawn

Overseed with Rye – Overseeding is the practice of using temporary grass (rye), which is seeded into a permanent lawn (St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda), to provide winter color that will last into spring.

  • Measure the area you will be seeding so that you can determine how many square feet needs to be seeded. Rye can be applied at a rate of 5-10lbs per 1,000 SF.
  • Water is the most important step in establishment and should be applied lightly and carefully until the seeds have germinated.  Do not overwater; this may cause seeds to wash away and/ or disease to set in.

Reestablish an existing lawn – It’s not too late to touch up any thin, weak areas in your lawn before weed seeds move in and take over.

  • Measure the areas that need to be addressed to determine how many square feet needs to be planted or seeded.
  • Most turf grass varieties can and be purchased by the pallet, piece, or plug.
  • Pallets of sod cover 400SF and a piece of sod measures 16” x 24” which covers a 2.65 SF area. Plugs are packaged 18 per tray and can be spaced from 6 to 18” apart, depending on how much patience you have for them to fill in. Use Yeti Trax Terra Trax for sod pallets or Myco Trax prior to planting sod pieces. Not only do they alleviate transplant shock, but it also reduces establishment time.
  • Pensacola Bahia seed is packaged in 50lb or 5lb bags. Bahia seed can be applied at the rate of 5lbs per 1,000 SF

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Fertilize – If needed, fertilizer can be applied to existing lawns starting in March, using Big Earth 15-0-15 or 24-0-11, 2-3 month slow release blends or Florikan 19-0-19, 6 month controlled release blend.

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Weeds – Control weeds as needed, by mowing or using spot treatments, until the end of February. Then, you can apply a weed and feed or a liquid herbicide, to control existing weeds or prevent new ones.

  • Bayer 3 in 1 Weed & Feed for Southern Lawns controls 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. One 12.5lb bag covers 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Other available products to help control weeds include Atrazine, Fertilome Dollar Weed Control, Weed Out with 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. Always read and follow all product instructions for the best results.

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PestsLawn pests are not typically prevalent yet this time of year, but keep an eye out for chinch bugs in St. Augustine.

  • Bayer Complete Insect Killer systemically controls lawn feeding insects for up to 3 months.
  • Existing problem? Use Bayer 24 hour Grub Control to knock down all lawn insects, then apply Bayer Complete for 3 month residual control.

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    For the Garden

      Crape Myrtle A light, cleanup trim is okay, but please, no “crape murder”.

    • Cut off old seed pods, thin out smaller twigs less than the width of your pinky finger if desired and remove suckers from the base. Use Felco #2 Pruners for a quick and easy pruning job.

    Prune Roses – In order to get the most bloom, roses should be trimmed back annually, by the end of February.

    • Thin plants to 5-7 strong shoots, then cut back by 1/3-1/2 of its original size. The goal is to improve the overall shape of the plant, allowing good air movement.
    • Remove all old, diseased or dead branches and any branches that cross through the center of the plant.
    • Finally, remove any bad leaves and apply Bayer All in One Rose and Flower Care which provides fertilizer, insect control and disease control for 6 weeks.

    Mulch – Add or replace mulch, as needed, to prevent weeds and soil erosion.

    • 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!

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Fertilize – If needed, fertilizer can be applied to your landscape plants starting in March.

Color – Cool season flowers continue to thrive through February, but it is time to start planning warm season plantings for March and April.

  • Warm season annual replacements include: marigolds, salvia, begonia, torenia, gazania and coleus.
  • Use the same potting soil in your containers and raised beds, 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.
  • You can still use Florikan 14-5-14 or Southern Ag 14-14-14, containing osmocote, in conjunction with Southern Ag water soluble 20-20-20 for annuals too.

Herbs and Veggies –  Plant cool season herbs and vegetables by early February; at the end of the month, start warm season crops, but keep covers handy in case of a late frost.

  • Cool Season vegetables and herbs: Lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, spinach, beets, carrots, scallions, onions, Swiss chard, mustard greens and collard greens, parsley, mint, chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano, cilantro and dill.
  • Warm season vegetables and herbs: tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, peppers, basil, sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary and mint.
  • If you are limited on time or space to devote to edibles and a raised bed or ground garden sounds daunting, consider adding Earth Boxes’ to your garden.

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