March Tips & Tricks For South Florida Landscapes

Just when I thought we were over our winter, this weekend its suppose to get down into the 40’s. Special care should be given towards our delicate patio & potted plants to prevent them from cold damage so bring them inside and hopefully it will be the last time for this year.

This month we will be discussing the proper way to install any type of shrub or tree, including how big the hole should be, soil amendments and fertilization.

First thing we need to do is dig a hole. It’s recommended to have a sharp shovel or a pick to make the job easy. The hole should be dug larger than your plant or trees root ball that is being planted. If the soil is rocky, the surrounding soil should be broken up so the newly formed roots have somewhere to grow. The main thing to remember when planting is the proper level of the root ball. All roots should be below the ground level with only the plant or tree trunk above ground. Placing a plant to deep or below the ground level will result in a possible root rot, severe nutrient deficiencies and poor growth habits. Roots should be checked prior to planting for a condition called root binding. Root binding happens when a plant is left in a container for too long and all of its roots circle around the pot in mass. If this is noticed it should be discarded or returned to the place of purchase for a new plant or refund. If planted, these plants or trees will cause severe problems later on.

Now, our plant or tree is in the hole properly placed, we now fill the hole 3/4 with water to remove all air pockets. We then use the existing fill that we dug out, less any rocks to fill the hole back in. It is important  NOT to cover the top of the root ball with fill while we back fill. After installation it is recommended to mulch the planted material which will help to prevent weeds from growing, keep soil moist and temperature constant. It is also important to NOT mulch around the trunk of the plant or tree. At this time the sprinkler system should be checked for proper coverage for plant material and even adding a bubbler head to the base of newly installed tree . Rule of thumb is three gallons per each inch of diameter tree trunk per day for at least the first 30 days.

Soil amendments are NOT necessary at planting time. Added amendments such as potting soil or peat moss have different moisture drying out rates that not the same as the native soil were the plant or tree is to be planted. It is often the case where the amended hole will be dry when the surrounding ground is wet. A plants roots tend to stay in the amended soil and not explore the surrounding soils. This creates a container effect. Fertilizing at planting should be avoided. When plants & trees are planted in the ground there roots are not ready to absorb fertilizer. Usually waiting a month after planting is recommended. Fertilizing plants or trees too early will cause root burn and should be avoided.

As always, when planting, please use the 9 Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping: 1)Right Plant, Right Place, 2)Water Efficiently, 3)Fertilize Appropriately, 4)Mulch, 5)Attract Wildlife, 6)Manage Yard Pests Responsibly, 7)Recycle, 8)Reduce Storm Water Runoff, 9) Protect The Waterfront

I hope the list we have prepared for you helps you with tips to improve your garden. 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 .

Q & A’s from you to me

Q)Tammy P. of Pembroke Pines asked, “I’ve had new landscape installed to my house and have an automatic lawn sprinkler timer, how often can I water”?

A)According to South Florida Water Management rules, only newly landscape areas may be watered for a total of 30 days from the date of installation. After that the schedule will revert back to the twice per week.

Q)John H. from Cooper City asked, I have palm trees that look sick and the tops look frizzy, what’s the problem with them?

A) You have a manganese deficiency in your palm trees called frizzle top. You need to fertilize your palm trees with a granular palm tree fertilizer with minor elements and also apply manganese sulfate sold as “TechMag” and can be applied both as a soil drench and a bud drench and will correct the problem.With the sandy soil that we have here in South Florida it is recommended to fertilize all your palm trees on a quarterly basis. What I recommend to my friends who do their own fertilizing is to mark the date of when fertilization was performed and for every three months thereafter on their wife’s calendar and it’s amazing when it’s in her calendar it does get done.

March is the beginning of our growing season, now go out there and get planting.