Best Management Practices for Summer Landscape

It’s summer time and we are experiencing the usual showers. Regular showers could mean huge savings on our water bill. There are many people who are not taking advantage of free irrigation. I mentioned that because I have noticed that there are many lawn sprinklers running during the rain. It is Florida law that all sprinkler systems be equipped with a working rain sensor. It is also important that property owners or landscape managers frequently inspect sensors. Ensure that the sensor is not hidden under the eave or gutter of the house. You can check if the sensor is working by running an irrigation zone, press the bottom on top of the sensor, if system shuts off then the sensor is functional. In addition, there is no need to irrigate wet soil. During the rainy season, switch your irrigation schedule from automatic to manual and irrigate only when the soil is dry. Remember irrigating only twice per week applying ½ to ¾ inch of water per event. Irrigating too frequently will result in shallow and weak grass roots that will not be able handle stress.

Frequent rain or irrigation encourages weed germination. Weeds are more prevalent during the rainy season. It’s best to apply herbicides during the juvenile stage of the weed, the older the weeds the more difficult to control. As a rule of thumb, apply herbicides two days before or two days after mowing. Herbicides are more effective on weeds that are actively growing. To control weeds, first identify the turf grass then the weeds. The herbicide label should have both the turf type and the weeds listed. Please note that there is not one herbicide that can control every weed. Most herbicides take 1 to 2 weeks for control of most weeds. Repeat applications may be necessary for tough to control weeds. Also, be aware that there are herbicides that injure trees if applied under the canopy or where roots growing. In addition, it’s advisable not to apply herbicides to grasses in a drought, when the temperature is above 85 degrees or that are infested and stressed by insects.

Insects like warm weather too. Scouting the landscape for insect pests is highly recommended. Scouting allows the homeowner to identify and treat landscape problems before they become an outbreak. Always use integrated pest management (IPM) approach to control pest in the landscape. IPM approach uses chemical as the last resort. For instance, before applying chemical adjust cultural practices such as mowing, irrigation, and fertilization. IPM encourages mulching of garden beds to prevent weeds, instead of waiting for weeds to grow and then applying herbicides. In other words, IPM is a safe and friendly approach to pest control.
Finally, prune plants lightly in summer if necessary; heavy pruning will sacrifice flowers. A good practice to keep in mind is to prune shrubs that bloom on growth that was produced the previous year, immediately after blooming. Prune shrubs bloom on branches that are produced during the current growing season in late winter before spring growth begins.

For more information on lawn and other horticulture topics, you can contact Grantly Ricketts with UF/IFAS extension in Osceola County at 321-697-3000 or email gricketts@ufl.edu.

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