Seasonal Guide to Landscaping
Florida’s subtropical climate allows landscapes to pop with color all year long. However, Florida’s hot, humid weather causes special issues that landscapers have to manage. Follow this seasonal guide to landscaping to keep your lawn looking its best no matter what:
Summer can be a brutal time for Florida lawns with little to no shade, not to mention the oppressive humidity. You definitely need to consider this when choosing plants and grass for these sun-scorched areas.
In the summer, you should mow your lawn at least every 1-2 weeks, depending on what type of grass you have. To keep the ambient temperature of your yard down, don’t cut the grass too short. You should use sharp lawn mower blades to keep your grass looking its best. Most lawns will need ¾” of water, covering the lawn uniformly, twice per week.
Veggie lovers might find it difficult for their gardens to thrive in areas with no shade. Many gardeners use this time to naturally heal their vegetable garden’s soil and prepare it for fall plants using the soil solarization technique. Soil solarization has been shown to slow the growth of weeds, decrease the number of pest infestations (including nematodes), and reduce disease growth in garden soil. This technique is simple, cost-effective, and gives your garden a much needed break during the most stressful time of year.
You also need to think about your own well-being during the summer heat. It is best to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day to avoid heat-related injuries. Try to only work in your yard in the early morning before the temperature rises.
Most locations in Florida also have watering and fertilizer restrictions that get stricter in the hottest months. We suggest setting up an automatic irrigation system to keep your lawn looking great during the summer months, and ensure you won’t get hit with a hefty fine for watering your lawn outside of the designated days and times. Be sure to inspect your system regularly, and extra points for using a system with a rain detector.
Summer planting checklist:
- Plant high heat-tolerant annuals
- Plant high heat-loving vegetables and herbs (from transplants only)
- Plant palm trees
- Plant Halloween pumpkins
Your lawn will breathe a sigh of relief when the summer heat finally breaks and fall’s cooler temperatures move in. Watering and fertilizer restrictions often ease up during the fall, allowing for watering on extra days or for extended times. You won’t need to water quite as much as the heat wanes, just ¾” coverage once per week, so don’t forget to adjust your irrigation system during your fall inspection.
You should fertilize your lawn in early fall, along with any citrus trees and gardenias you may have planted. However, remember to keep that lawn fertilizer away from your palm trees! Reduce mowing to once every 2-4 weeks as grass growth slows down in autumn.
Avoid pruning trees and shrubs in the fall, even though they may still have their leaves. Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune.
Fall is a great time to plant an outdoor herb garden! This is most efficient when begun in early fall. Rosemary, basil, mint, and thyme are some of the easiest herbs to grow.
Fall planting checklist:
- Harvest and pull up summer gardens (pull up the entire plant, root and all, to avoid soil diseases)
- Plant cool-weather annuals
- Separate and replant perennials
- Plant cold-hardy veggies and herbs
- Plant strawberries
Take advantage of winter’s cooler temps to do some maintenance work on your landscaping. Some plants will go dormant during the winter months but will bounce back in the spring, so don’t neglect their care. In late winter, grab those pruning shears and get to work on your flowering trees, deciduous fruit trees, shrubs, and bushes. After pruning, add mulch to all of your flower beds and areas where shrubs are planted. Give rose bushes and shrubs a dose of fertilizer before mulching. Fertilize citrus trees during winter as well (give them a once over for scab while you’re at it).
Continue mowing and lawn irrigation practices from the fall. Some people even prefer to use colorants in the winter months to combat dull or brown grass.
It doesn’t freeze much here in Tampa Bay, but it’s not impossible, so always have a cover nearby to put over flower beds and other landscaping if the temperature drops too low. Also, be sure to inspect your palm trees for signs of damage from cold snaps. Herb gardens can remain outside during the winter as long as they are covered if it freezes.
Winter planting checklist:
- Plant more cold-tolerant annuals
- Plant more cold-tolerant vegetables and herbs
- Plant new deciduous fruit trees
- Plant new camellias
- Plant new azaleas
- Plant seeds for the spring garden
- Plant flowering bulbs for spring
Spring is when Florida landscapers put in the heavy lifting. Hiring a professional landscaper to handle spring lawn and garden tasks is a smart move if you don’t have the time or experience to do it yourself. During spring, new lawns are installed using seed and sod. Both new and existing lawns are aerated and fertilized before the summer fertilizer restrictions begin. You’ll want to be sure your irrigation system is in top shape in early spring so it can handle the upcoming workload.
The time between mows will lessen, and watering needs will gradually increase during springtime. You should adjust your irrigation system to meet your lawn’s growing demands.
You’ll also want to prune, shape, fertilize, and mulch palms, azaleas, gardenias, and camellias during the spring. You should always wait to do this until after any flowers have bloomed, but before new buds have appeared.
At this time, you should pull up dead winter annuals and replace them with heat-loving summer varieties. Don’t forget to pull up the entire plant, root and all, to avoid soil diseases!
Inspect your entire yard for pests and insect problems, especially flowering bushes and ornamental plants.
Trim back trees to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season. This not only keeps your yard and gutters cleaner but also reduces the risk that a heavy branch or limb will fall on your home. Just remember that trimming back trees will change the distribution of shade in your yard, so plant accordingly.
Spring planting checklist:
- Plant heat-tolerant summer annuals
- Plant heat-loving vegetables and herbs
- Plant a pollinator garden (think bright, colorful flowers)
With proper care, your Florida landscape can be the envy of the entire neighborhood. However, time for landscaping is often not available for people who work full time or are raising a family. You don’t have to sacrifice your home’s curb appeal just because you don’t have time to do the landscaping yourself. Call Tropiscapes at (813) 518-8487 to schedule your estimate and find out why Tampa residents trust Tropiscapes with all their seasonal landscaping and outdoor lighting needs!