Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Lawn Prep: Fertilizing

It's March, and normally most homeowners are thinking about their lawn, although this recent cold snap may have delayed thoughts of springtime!  Lawns are growing very slowly, if at all, in the winter months, so fertilizer is not recommended. 

So when should you do a spring lawn fertilization? 

Do you need to apply fertilizer to your lawn in the spring?  

What should a homeowner in Polk County do with their lawn to prep it for spring and summer weather?  

 1. You may have a bag of lawn fertilizer ready to go, but hold on!  Your grass is still dormant or very slowly growing.  Wait until your grass is actively growing before you dust off the fertilizer spreader.  April is a good time to fertilize.  University of Florida research has shown that the greatest amount of nitrate leaching occurs January through March, so wait until April to make your application.

2.  Fertilizer contains nutrients to help with plant growth and/or correct a nutrient deficiency.  You don't need to apply fertilizer if those issues don't pertain to your lawn. 

3.  Select a fertilizer for lawns that contains slow-release and low or no phosphorus.  You can find this information on the fertilizer bag. Make sure you read the label and follow application instructions.  Apply no more than one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, no matter what type of grass you have.  Follow UF/IFAS recommendations for application rates.  

4.  Too much fertilizer can cause increased disease and insect problems as well as increased pollution.  

5.  Water in your fertilizer with 1/4 inch of water.  You do not need to water the 1/2 inch that you normally apply during your watering days as this application is just to move the fertilizer granules down into the lawn.  

6.  After you apply fertilizer, it's important to follow other home lawn best management practices so that your grass remains healthy during the growing season.  Mow at the highest recommended height for your grass type, apply 1/2 inch of water per irrigation application, keep mower blades sharp and leave grass clippings on the lawn.  

Here's to a happy, healthy lawn this spring!  For more information contact us!  

Follow the best management practices for your lawn to reduce pollution and maintain a healthy lawn.  For more information contact us, or learn more here.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's spring, and the Chickasaw Plum is in bloom!

It always feels like spring is here when the Chickasaw Plum at UF/IFAS Extension Polk County is in bloom.  This lovely small tree makes itself known in early spring when it is covered with hundreds of small white blooms.  This low-maintenance native is a good choice for home landscapes.  If you are looking for a tree to plant this spring, choose a Chicksaw Plum!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Proper Planting

As the weather warms in central Florida, people get excited to work outside.  Are you putting in new plants?  Did you get a tree for Arbor Day that you are ready to install?  Brush up on proper planting techniques--things may have 
changed since you were taught how to plant.  

Select a good quality plant.  Remove it from the container and take a look at the roots.  Are they healthy? Do you see any insects? Are the roots spilling out of the container?  Choose a plant with white, pest-free roots (and shoots) that are not tightly packed into the container.

Make sure the root ball is moist before planting.  Loosen roots, or, shave the periphery of the entire root ball prior to planting.  This is not necessary if you are planting bedding plants, but with shrubs and trees it will help them establish properly.  You do not want any circling roots to hinder plant growth.  

Dig your planting hole twice as wide as the root ball and the depth should allow the root ball to be even with the soil surface or slightly higher.  Avoid planting too deep.  If you dig the hole too deep, remove the plant, add soil to the hole and then re-position the plant.  Fill the area around the root ball with the soil that you removed.  It is not necessary to add organic amendments such as compost or topsoil.  

The top-most roots should be level, or just above the surface of the soil.  Notice how there is no soil on top of the root ball.  

Finally, you are ready to mulch.  Mulch around the plant 2-3 inches deep.  Do not place any mulch on top of the root ball.  By leaving the root ball exposed, irrigation and rain water are more readily absorbed into the plant.  

If you have any questions on proper planting, contact us at the Plant Clinic (863) 519-1057 or download this helpful fact sheet.