If you are one of the many recent transplants to The Sunshine State, we hope you grow and thrive here! Speaking of growing and thriving, you may have questions about how to care for your Central Florida yard and garden during what passes for fall here. Although autumn isn’t as well-defined as it is up north, our subtropical climate still requires some adjustments when it comes to keeping your yard healthy and beautiful. The same holds true even if your former home was in a warmer locale. There’s no other place quite like Florida – and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
So without further ado, our team of yard care and landscaping experts at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing anticipate and answer everything you long to know about keeping your yard the envy of the neighbors during this season.
Do I Need to Change My Lawn Care Routine?
If you’re hands-on with lawn care and are used to fertilizing, October is the last recommended month to fertilize prior to winter. Fertilizing too late could cause the grass to be growing when cold weather comes, making it more cold-sensitive.
As we point out in our blog post – “How to Prepare Your Central Florida Lawn for Fall” – you might need to fertilize more often than once a year, depending upon the type of grass you have – so research the care it needs. The same applies to shrubs and flowers. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for use for the best results.
Another good step to take to help ensure a great lawn come spring is to aerate it. Although you may not have thought it necessary because of Florida’s porous sandy soil, aeration does two things: It helps loosen compacted grass roots and opens up the ground so it is more receptive to moisture, fertilizer and seed. Aerating the soil during your fall landscaping will give it a healthier start for the following spring. You can learn more about aeration by reading our blog post, “Why You Should Aerate Your Lawn.”
For optimum effectiveness, have your soil tested after aeration to determine the kind of nutrients it needs and the balance of the pH level. This will help you select the proper fertilizer that will support the growth of your plants and flowers.
Also change your watering schedule in fall. Set your irrigation system to deliver ¾-inch of water two days a week. To determine if your turf is receiving this amount, set empty cans around the yard, run your system, then measure the water collected.
As for mowing, keep up your regular schedule as long as your grass continues growing. Cooler temperatures will inevitably begin to slow down its growth rate until it becomes dormant for the winter. Instead of weekly, it might be twice a month or perhaps less. According to Your Oasis Outdoor Care, “The goal is to maintain the appropriate grass height for your particular type of grass. In most parts of Florida, grass experiences some growth year-round.”
Will My Grass Stay Green Through Winter?
Well-maintained Central Florida lawns usually tend to stay green, save for surprise freezes. However, don’t expect the lush green of summer. It may not turn brown, but your grass will lose its vibrant appearance. If you want your lawn to remain picture-perfect, overseed it! This is the practice of planting a temporary grass to provide a green lawn all winter. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Gardening Solutions, ryegrass is popular for overseeding because of its fast growth and low cost. It should be sown once daytime highs have fallen to the low- to mid-70s.
Rake the grass to remove all debris, then mow your lawn before sowing the seed. You’ll need to water your overseeded lawn frequently until it has germinated. Once the winter lawn is established, it will require watering, mowing and fertilizing. Grasses used for overseeding will die off as temperatures rise in the spring, so no action will be necessary to remove them. Having done their job, the winter grasses graciously give way to your turfgrass’s reactivated growth.
Should I Worry About Weeds and Insect Pests?
So, this is one downside of Central Florida yards. Weeds and insect pests can infiltrate all year long. Fortunately, they tend to be easier to get rid of in the fall. Using a pre-emergent and/or herbicide and applying it to your soil after aeration is the best way to prevent rapid growth of weeds and insect pest infestation.
The most effective time to apply a herbicide or pre-emergent is when the temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for four consecutive nights – which is usually around late September and into October. Our blog post – “Weeding and Feeding Your Florida Lawn” – covers this process in greater detail.
For evidence of insect infestation, look for brown patches or any discoloration in your yard. Some of the insects to watch out for include the following:
- Fall armyworms
- Mole crickets
- Sod webworms
- Southern chinch bugs
Treating for these pests needs to be done quickly, before they cause significant damage to your lawn. If you prefer Earth-friendly pesticides that are non-toxic to humans and animals, our blog post – “Earth Friendly Pesticides” – provides a list of natural ingredients that can be used to mix your own pesticides.
Is it Too Late to Mulch My Yard?
No! But if you wait any longer, it will be. The last application of mulch of the year should be no later than October. There are benefits to mulching in fall – including protection for your more cold-sensitive flowers and shrubs against the occasional freezes that hit Central Florida. It’s an easy, economical way to help your plants stay alive and well throughout winter. Instead of spending the money, time and labor to replace plants, investing in some mulch can pay off!
According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Gardening Solutions program, “Proper mulching is an essential component of any Florida-Friendly landscape. Perhaps most importantly, it is the cornerstone of a great weed-control program. Mulch keeps the soil moist longer after irrigation, too. This gives plant roots extra time to soak up water. Mulch also protects plants’ roots from extreme temperatures by creating a buffer between the soil and the air.
“And mulch isn’t just good for your plants; it’s good for your soil. Organic mulches can add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. This improves your soil’s aeration, structure, drainage, and ability to hold nutrients. Mulch can even help reduce erosion and protect plants from certain diseases.”
Our blog post – “Why You Should Mulch Your Central Florida Landscape in the Fall” – covers this topic in greater detail – including the best types of mulch for our region, tips for spreading mulch for optimum coverage and water drainage, and how to choose a mulch that will best complement your home’s exterior colors.
Enjoy Fall in Florida with Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing!
Central Florida yards need special attention this time of year. Our experienced team at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing Inc. knows the ins and outs of Central Florida’s climate, so your fall yard can be beautiful – and well-prepared to blossom and thrive when spring arrives! We will work with you to achieve your goals and bring your vision to life every season of the year! Our full-service company provides landscape design, tree installation, tree trimming, yard maintenance, bush hogging, pressure washing and so much more. Contact us today so we can do the work, and you can do the enjoying!