February Tips & Tricks for South Florida Landscapes

South Florida has continued to experience warm & damp; dry conditions throughout the region. As was discussed in our January Tips & Tricks, it is important to have all your sprinkler systems repaired, heads adjusted or replaced and have time clocks programmed. Neglecting any of the above & you will definitely be noticing brown spots in the grass, and plants that are wilting and stressed. Due to the warm weather, our sod, plants & trees have come out of there semi-dormant stage and have begun to flush out with new growth. Typically, in January as we discussed, was to get our irrigation systems in good working order and February, we provide a quality time released fertilizer to our sod, plants & trees.

This month we will be discussing fertilizer. Fertilizer is essential to the long term health of our turf, plants and trees. With most of our soil in South Florida being sand, fertilizer is not held in the root system for very long before it is leached through due to excessive rain and heat. Fertilization should be done at a minimal of four times per year with a quality time released granular fertilizer. It is important to note that if you make wise plant choices such as native plants that are adapted to our soils and large quantities of mulch, plants will need very little fertilizer. When you read fertilizer the label the numbers 6-6-6 (N-P-K) are the percentage of nitrogen(N), phosphorus(P) and potassium(K) found in the bag. Nitrogen helps the plants growth, phosphorous is for general health and potassium helps with bloom, bud and fruit development.

Plants nutritional needs can be divided into two categories: macro elements & micro elements. Macro elements are needed in higher quantities than micro elements but both are needed for plants to thrive. Macro element deficiencies will show in the leaves of a plant while micro deficiencies will show up in the new growth only. A 6-6-6 fertilizer is an excellent general fertilizer, palm tree enthusiasts may wish to purchase a palm special 8-2-12 will micro elements. This is a more expensive fertilizer than a 6-6-6 but is specially formulated for palms and can also be used on most plants with excellent results. A 8-3-9 fertilizer mix is formulated for most tropical fruit trees. Granular fertilizer should be scattered slightly beyond the drip line of a tree or scrub. The drip line of a plant or tree is an imaginary circle drawn below the furthest point branches. The roots that are responsible for absorbing water & nutrients are found just past the drip line are called feeder roots. Do NOT ever place granular fertilizer near or on the trunk of a plant or tree. There are no feeder roots there and it can damage or even kill the plant or tree. Granular fertilizer should be applied at a rate of one large handful of most fertilizer per 1 ” of trunk diameter. Do NOT over fertilize because it will do more harm than good. Granular fertilizer can be applied over mulch. Care should be used when applying fertilizer. Grounds should be swept or blown clean because fertilizer will stain concrete sidewalks & hardscapes if left on. All fertilizer should be watered in to the soil after each application. Plants, sod and trees that are fertilized on a regular basis, and watered properly will be remain healthier and be more resistant to disease, drought and insect infestation than those that are not. As always, I appreciate your emails and phone calls in regards to last month’s Tips & Tricks. In March’s Tips & Tricks in addition to discussing planting, watering & mulching we will be taking your questions and answering them as a part of our blog. Until then, get outside, enjoy the beautiful weather and happy gardening!

I hope the above helps you with tips to improve your landscaping. If you need help regarding your landscape, we at Garden Services are fully licensed & insured to handle all of your irrigation, landscaping, maintenance and tree service needs whether it’s a residential, commercial or homeowner association property .