As spring approaches and the weather warms back up, Central Floridians look forward to spending more time outdoors. However, with the springtime rainfall comes a rise in the mosquito population. Learn how to modify your landscape to prevent these pesky insects, with natural and beneficial alternatives to harsh chemicals.
Mosquito Season in Florida
Just as people flock to Florida for its year-round temperate weather, there is a pest that enjoys the warmth and mild moisture as much as we do. Mosquitos are present throughout the year, but they thrive during the spring and summer. Mosquitos rely and two main factors present in our ecosystem: temperatures consistently above 50 degrees, and a significant rainfall.
In the state of Florida, there are around 80 species of mosquitoes. Of these, 33 species are known to be a nuisance to humans and pets. Worse, 13 species can carry more serious, even fatal diseases, such as Zika or West Nile. Two of the most common mosquito species in Florida are the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the gallinipper (Psorophora ciliata). While both have the potential to carry a number of dangerous viruses or diseases, they can be deterred with insect repellents.
Mosquito Repellent Plants for Your Yard
It is common knowledge that many pest repellents present significant risks to our health, and the health of our pets. To avoid contact with chemicals altogether, there are several plants that can naturally repel vexing mosquitoes.
Utilizing these natural plants will also add to your landscape by making it more lush and fragrant.
1- Marigolds - A beautiful and vibrant orange flower, marigolds have a very distinct smell. They can be purchased as seeds, or a starter plant. They perform well around entry points such as doors or windows, as well as around patios and other areas for outdoor entertaining.
2- Citronella - You have likely heard of this plant in the context of the popular mosquito deterrent candle we all know and love. This perennial grass grows in tall clumps up to six feet tall, and has a strong scent. It performs best in large pots with adequate drainage and sunlight.
3- Catnip - We hope you enjoy some feline company! Catnip is an easy-to-grow herb that your cats will love and mosquitos will hate. You can even crush the leaves to release an added boost of the repellent scent.
4- Lavender - A scent you most likely enjoy in candles and soaps, lavender has a relaxing aroma. It can be placed in a variety of areas, from entryways to entertainment areas. The bright purple bloom is an appealing addition to most gardens.
5- Basil - While this plant repels mosquitoes, you can also enjoy it on a delicious pizza or pasta dish. It is one of the few plants you do not have to crush to enjoy the benefits of, so it can sit happily on your windowsill.
6- Lemon balm - Lemon balm is a vibrant leafy plant that attracts pollinators, and wards off pests. It is however fast-growing, so it should be contained in a pot rather than planted in an open garden.
To avoid attracting insect pests, particularly mosquitoes, be sure to turn unused plant pots upside down. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, as well as other unwanted bugs. When you are outside, wear adequate clothing and use your choice of mosquito repellent. Any extra measures you take will decrease the likelihood that you are bitten.
Enjoying your yard should not be a territory battle! At Daniels Lawn Service & Pressure Washing, we can help design a landscape with plants that are ideal for repelling mosquitoes. And, with regular maintenance, the space will always be prepared for you to enjoy with friends and family. Contact us today to learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment!
For many, having a pet is like having a child. As with children, you are keen on providing a healthy environment for them to live, explore, play and relax. For pets, this means their very own yard. Keep reading to learn how you can create a pet-friendly yard that is not only safe, but comfortable and inviting.
Use Pet-friendly Chemicals
The maintenance of your yard means using a variety of chemical treatments, often throughout the entire year. No matter who is performing these tasks and the application, it is key that you reiterate that your yard is used by pets. If you are doing your own yard work, be diligent about reading the ingredients and instructions in yard care chemicals.
Some chemicals may restrict animals from being in the area until it is dry, or for a specific period of time. However, many are unsafe for animals altogether, and may need to be replaced with organic alternatives. If for any reason you fear your pet has been exposed to hazardous chemicals, seek out a veterinarian immediately.
Whether you are inviting a new pet into your home, or renovating the landscaping, it is important to consider your pet’s safety while in this outdoor area. We tend to look at the beauty and function of plants, and forget that many are less than healthy for unsuspecting animals.
Starting with grass, select a variety that can withstand the frequent activity of your pet. To protect your flowers or garden, place them in a raised flower bed or behind decorative stones. Plants frequently found in Central Florida yards and gardens that you should avoid include angel’s trumpet, azalea and oleander. For a complete list, read the Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. This list covers the entire United States, not just Central Florida.
Provide a Digging Area for Your Dogs
Old and young, dogs love to play, and will benefit from having an open area at home to indulge their instinct. While a spacious yard provides ample space to run, give them a place to cool down with a digging area. Choose an area away from patios or any other frequently used areas, as well as plants you want to keep. Block out a small space and border it with stones ‒ or create a temporary area with a kiddie pool. Inside, line the bottom with newspapers, and lay down a decent amount of soil or sand. The depth can vary based on the breed of your pet, and its energy level.
Top off the area with leaves or mulch, but be cautious of the type of mulch. Some varieties, such as cocoa bean mulch, are toxic and can be fatal to dogs. To encourage your dog to dig or play in the space, have it watch you bury toys or treats to uncover. Repeat this often, and you are likely to create an incentive for your dog or dogs to be active. Be sure to cover it overnight to prevent cats from using the area.
Provide Fencing for a Boundary
While your pets need room to explore and play, they also need boundaries. A fence will create a limited, safe place for your pets to roam and get out any pent-up energy. Afraid it will be an eyesore? Unless your pet happens to be an escape artist, you do not have to have an eight-foot fence. You may choose to go with wood or iron at a height of about four feet, or even a beautiful white farm fence. Line it with pet-friendly plants and flowers to soften the appearance of the area. You can even include water features for pets to drink from, or an arbor under which everyone can enjoy some shade.
When you call Daniel’s Lawn Care and Pressure Washing, trust that we can create an environment comfortable and safe for you and your pets. With proper landscaping and maintenance, you can enjoy a beautiful yard year ‘round. Contact us today to learn about our services or schedule an appointment.
Although Florida can still reach a warm 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, there are several ways you can keep your lawn or garden interesting and healthy. Read the following tips to learn how you can improve the appearance of your yard, even in the wintertime.
How to Protect Winter Plants
While Florida may not be graced with snowfall, temperatures can dip as low as 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For many plants, this is low enough to do serious damage. Make sure that prior to the winter season, you have properly pruned any overgrown trees or plants. This will prevent breakage during potentially windy conditions or heavy rainfall.
You should apply a coarse mulch to keep roots warm, and reduce water needs. It will also prevent weeds from growing, reduce soil erosion, and act as insulation. It should be around 3- to 4-inches deep, but no more. You can rake it on occasion, to be sure the mulch does not accumulate following inclimate weather. If there isn’t an adequate amount of rainfall, continue watering on a regular basis.
If you know that low temperatures are likely, take caution by covering tender plants with old cloths, such as bed sheets or burlap. Never use plastic, as it will cause condensation on plant leaves, which can lead to burnt leaves from direct sunlight. Perform these steps with diligence, as there is less daylight in the winter. Otherwise, you may find yourself rushing to complete them in the dark.
The Best Plants for Winter in Florida
If you are planning on renovating your landscape for the season, or just adding a few plants, look for plants that are cold-tolerant. Some flowers and plants will grow in Florida year-round, while others may only be suitable for a short period of time.
Here is a Florida winter flower and plant guide to help you get started:
• Potato varieties
Brighten Up Your Landscaping
One easy way to add to your landscape – without overcrowding plants – is with hardscaping. This can consist of a trellis, arbor, walkway or wall. Any similar types of landscape architecture will contrast with the vegetation by addings new textures and colors. Neutral tones in particular contrast nicely with greenery. Structures such as benches or patios will add an extra entertainment element, perfect for bonfires on cool Florida nights.
With so many holidays to celebrate during the winter season, one way to light up a landscape is with decorations. String lights can be added to arbors, walkway handrails or even trees. If lights are not your taste, there are a variety of yard decorations to suit any style. You can also place embellishments in or around summer and spring plant containers. If you do use outdoor lighting, be sure to appropriately warn your lawn service, or mark power cords for visibility.
Does your landscaping need a little TLC for the winter? Call Daniel’s Lawn Service and Pressure Washing. We can get your lawn back in shape and looking lush for the winter months. Licensed and insured, we specialize in land clearing, landscaping design, lawn maintenance and much more. Contact us today to set up an appointment.
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