Lawn, Citrus, Fruit, and Landscape problems you need to address now!

What to do this week
By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening” on 970WFLA

ABC Pest Control Inc. FloridaLawn, Citrus, Fruit, and Landscape problems you need to address now!

Even as we watch our northern friends toil with yet another snowstorm, our Florida landscapes are beginning to wake up from their short winter nap. March signals the end to any colder temperatures, especially freezes in our area. I have seen many plants beginning their first spurts of spring-like growth. In this article, we will be going over many of the problems in our landscapes, which need to be addressed. Fertilization, weed control, pruning, disease control, and general maintenance of the landscape need to be performed at the beginning of our growing season. This upkeep will help our plants break out of winter’s dormancy and give them the nutrients and strength they need to give us a beautiful garden. Let’s get started!

As our turf grass begins to grow, there are certain nutrients, which are needed to help in the formation of new roots and green grass blades. Roots require potassium to grow and divide while nitrogen is essential to healthy leaf growth. This is true of all plants. Slow-release fertilizers containing these elements are available at most garden centers. I prefer to purchase a high-quality fertilizer that also contains secondary plant nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. These elements are used by the lawn in small amounts. You may also find micronutrients like iron, manganese, boron, copper, and zinc listed, which also help. Look for these elements listed on the label of the fertilizer you are purchasing.

A granular fertilizer with the analysis of a 21-0-10 is my choice for use on turf grasses, and your first application should be made now. Make sure that you use at least five pounds of this fertilizer for every one thousand square feet of sod you have. Water the sod after you apply it and make sure to sweep any spilled material off impervious surfaces. You should see results from this application in about two to three weeks. I would also suggest that you make an additional application at the beginning of May prior to the fertilizer ban taking effect. The second application should help keep your grass looking good throughout the summer months.Those of you growing Zoysia or Bermuda grasses may want to rake out the dead thatch which has built up over the past year. There are special

Those of you growing Zoysia or Bermuda grasses may want to rake out the dead thatch which has built up over the past year. There are special rakes and power mowers, which are available for rent that can make this task a lot easier. De-thatching permits more carbon-dioxide to reach the crown of the plant enhancing root growth, allows fertilizers to work more effectively, and removes the decaying thatch build up giving the lawn a much better appearance. Most homeowners growing these varieties of grasses should have this service performed every three years or more often if the lawn is heavily fed with a nitrogen fertilizer.For St. Augustine lawn growers that have a heavy thatch build up, there is another process called

For St. Augustine lawn growers that have a heavy thatch build up, there is another process called verti-cutting you may need to consider. Verti-cutting is the mechanical removal of thatch built up by over-fertilization with nitrogen-based fertilizers. You will know that you have a thatch problem when you need to reach into your grass to locate the sprinkler head which no longer rises above the grass when the system comes on. Some of us may also notice our grass has grown five or six inches above the sidewalk. This is also a sign that your thatch levels are too high, and you may need to have your lawn verti-cut.Companies offering this service should only perform this service before temperatures rise into the upper eighties. March is a good month to have this service performed. Beware! Check the references of the company you hire to perform this service for you.

Companies offering this service should only perform this service before temperatures rise into the upper eighties. March is a good month to have this service performed. Beware! Check the references of the company you hire to perform this service for you. Verti-cutting is very stressful on the grass, and the end-result will look as if your lawn has been plugged when done correctly. Your lawn may take the entire summer to fill in and look good. Remember, you will need to change the habits which caused the lawn to build up so much thatch in the first place. Use only slow release fertilizers and products that have nitrogen content of less than twenty-one as is represented by the first number on the bag of fertilizer.

Citrus trees need to be fed now. You should apply good quality citrus fertilizer available at most garden centers. A good rule to follow when applying nutrients to any type of fruit tree is to measure the trunk of the tree in width. If the tree is six inches in diameter, then you would need to apply three pounds or one-half the trunk width, in pounds of fertilizer. A four-inch wide tree would need two pounds of fertilizer. Apply fertilizers with a hand-held spreader available at any garden center. The area beneath the tree should be free of grass or ground covers. Start your fertilizer application halfway from the trunk to the end of the drip line and continue in a circle around the tree extending beyond the drip line. Repeat this application every two months and water after each application.

Your citrus trees will also need to be sprayed with an insecticide like Conserve, a copper fungicide, and citrus minor essential elements. Because most trees are in bloom right now, I like to wait until the tree is at three-quarters petal fall before I spray them. Apply these products every two months with either a backpack sprayer or pump-up sprayer. You can apply all three products at the same time mixed together in one sprayer. Each product needs to be mixed according to the label, so make sure you read the label before applying any product.

Your citrus trees will also need to be sprayed with an insecticide like Conserve, a copper fungicide, and citrus minor essential elements. Because most trees are in bloom right now, I like to wait until the tree is at three-quarters petal fall before I spray them. Apply these products every two months with either a backpack sprayer or pump-up sprayer. You can apply all three products at the same time mixed together in one sprayer. Each product needs to be mixed according to the label, so make sure you read the label before applying any product.I know some of you still like to use the old-style dial-a-

I know some of you still like to use the old-style dial-a-matic sprayers you hook up to your hose and then set the dial for how much product you need to apply, but I do not like these applicators. The spray force generated by these units can knock the blossoms and even some of the small fruit off the tree, which can lead to a big loss, come harvest time. Invest in a good-quality pump-up sprayer and remember, not to save the leftover product in your sprayer. Once the products are mixed with water inside your applicator, they start to lose their effectiveness. Mix fresh every time you need to apply.

Mangoes and avocados are in bloom right now. Spray your mangoes every ten days with Copper Hydroxide, the active ingredient in Kocide 3000, to prevent anthracnose. Anthracnose is a fungal disease which can cause the fruit to abort and fall off the tree. Continue spraying the entire tree, including blooms and young fruit until the fruit is at least the size of a marble. Do not spray your avocado tree until fruit has formed and attained the size of a marble. Spraying an avocado tree while it is still in bloom, may cause the loss of fruit so be patient. Both trees will benefit from the application of the Kocide and will allow more fruit to stay on the tree.

Crepe myrtle trees need to be pruned now. Remove all branches which are smaller than the diameter of your thumb. Removal of sizeable branches or cutting these plants to the ground is no longer recommended and can do more harm than good. If the trees are too large to perform a light pruning as mentioned above, then trim the tree back to where you feel comfortable in maintaining the tree. You can prune the tree to this height every year thereafter.

Roses also need to be pruned now. Bush roses need to be thinned and cut back by at least one-third. Tea roses should be cut back to about two and a half feet. Try to trim back to an outward facing bud. Remove any diseased or crisscrossing stems. Tea roses should be kept to five or six main stems. Climbing roses should be trained and thinned where needed to give room to pathways or walkways. Do not forget to spray your roses with a systemic fungicide like Thiomyl following pruning. You should also start applying a blooming fertilizer. I like to use an 8-10-10 granular fertilizer every two months to keep my roses looking great.

Roses also need to be pruned now. Bush roses need to be thinned and cut back by at least one-third. Tea roses should be cut back to about two and a half feet. Try to trim back to an outward facing bud. Remove any diseased or crisscrossing stems. Tea roses should be kept to five or six main stems. Climbing roses should be trained and thinned where needed to give room to pathways or walkways. Do not forget to spray your roses with a systemic fungicide like Thiomyl following pruning. You should also start applying a blooming fertilizer. I like to use an 8-10-10 granular fertilizer every two months to keep my roses looking great.Take care of your turf grass and eliminate the thatch as needed. Citrus trees are ready to be fertilized and sprayed. Mangoes and avocados need to be sprayed with copper to ensure good fruit set. Prune your crepe myrtles and roses accordingly. Spring is coming, and you need to help your plants get ready. Good luck and remember, without

Take care of your turf grass and eliminate the thatch as needed. Citrus trees are ready to be fertilized and sprayed. Mangoes and avocados need to be sprayed with copper to ensure good fruit set. Prune your crepe myrtles and roses accordingly. Spring is coming, and you need to help your plants get ready. Good luck and remember, without plants, we would not be here.

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