Dear Laureate Park Residents,
It’s the rainy season and everything is growing. It’s wet and hot and a great environment for everything to grow, including undesirable weeds and mildew. This article is about taking care of your landscape in Lake Nona.
In Florida, there are different types of soils from sandy to clay. Here in Lake Nona, we have a unique soil that has high organic matter, so it is slower to percolate (drain). Because of this, there are a few things that you can do to keep your landscape happy.
If some of your landscape seems to be unhealthy, this could be due to mulch buildup around the crown (base) of your plants. Be sure to pull back the mulch from around the crown of the plants, especially trees. The moisture being trapped around the base causes the plants to rot. Make sure to elevate plants an inch or two when planting new materials and add some bedding soil. If you are planting a tree, elevate it 4 to 6 inches above grade or curb height.
Another important factor is irrigation control. Applying too much water can be just as harmful to your landscape as not watering enough. Also, keep in mind, the seepage of water onto driveways and sidewalks causes algae that stains and creates a slippery surface on concrete. If your irrigation system is Wi-Fi capable, linking your system to a weather station will enable it to be completely automatic and working off ET (evapotranspiration). This means, water in the soil evaporates and plants transpire, or use water, daily. This is the amount, or depth, of water that needs to be replaced by your irrigation system. You can find out more by googling "irrigation scheduling using ET to save water".
If your system is not Wi-Fi capable, make sure your system is set up to only run two days a week during daylight savings time (March 3 – November 10, 2019) and one day a week (November 11 – March 8, 2020) per City of Orlando ordinance. At Laureate Park we recommend using what is called “cycle – soak’”, this means instead of running 20 minutes a station (runoff starts after about 5 to 7 minutes) we run 5 minutes a station with 4 start times. Example: First start time is 4:00 a.m., station 1 – 5 minutes, station 2 – 5 minutes, station 3 – 5 minutes and station 4 – 5 minutes. Second start time 4:25 a.m. repeat stations 1-4 at 5 minutes each. Third start time at 4:50 a.m. repeat stations 1 – 4 at 5 minutes each and final starting at 5:15 a.m. repeat stations 1 – 4 at 5 minutes each. This is the same ‘typical’ 20-minute run time per station with little to no runoff.
Lastly, make sure that your rain sensor is active and properly working. This not only saves water but reduces the amount of runoff of reclaimed water that goes down our storm drains. For more on City watering restrictions, you can go to https://www.ouc.com/environment-community/high-quality-water-ouc/watering-restrictions
TURF (LAWN) CARE
On another note, you do not need to fertilize your turf during the summer months (from June – September) because lightning releases nitrogen into the air which is readily available to the plants. Note that your other plants may have additional nutritional requirements so keep monitoring them.
If you have Saint Augustine grass, now is the time to treat for chinch bugs. Chinch bug damage may not show up for weeks or months. The reason is that when chinch bugs feed, they eject an enzyme into the plant to breakdown the plant tissues for them to extract the juices. It is this enzyme that kills the Saint Augustine grass.
If the street tree in front of your home is not as full as you’d like or has dead branches near the top, it is likely that there is too much mulch or soil at its base. During our inspections we have found instances of a two-foot mound of dirt/mulch at the base of the trees. Too much mulch traps moisture and causes rotting at the crown (base) of the tree, which then starts the decline of the tree, which usually starts at the top of the tree. Here are some tips of what to do with your street tree:
We hope this information is useful to you all and please know that there will be more to come. If you have any horticultural related questions, comments, or future horticultural article topics please email LPlandscapetips@gmail.com.
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Thank you all!