Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last Days of Summer "In Your Backyard"

Fall is almost upon us. The sycamores and red maples are changing color, humidity is down, and pulling weeds doesn't seem like a chore. After a long, hot summer, this past weekend was cleanup time with advantageous weeds feeling their oats, invasive queen palms from a neighboring yard sprouting up, and hornets buzzing around overgrown shrubs that have been easily unattended since last year. But my roses, lantana, and blackberry lilies are blooming, and the red fountain grass looks lovely, swaying in the wind. No lawn to mow, thankfully. I broke that habit five years ago!

With the temperatures cooling, this is the time to start providing nutrients to your turfgrass with a 15-0-15 fertilizer. Applying fertilizer now, according to the label's instructions, will allow your turf to recover from the stress of summer and prepare for winter freezes. The 15-0-15 analysis will give the grass the nitrogen it needs to green up and grow, while the potassium (the last number on the bag) will create thicker cell walls which will enable the grass to survive extreme freezes. It's important to apply potassium because it's not absorbed as easily as nitrogen. It may take several months for the grass to get the full benefit of the application. If you wait till November or December for a potash or potassium application, your grass may not be growing as readily and be unprepared for an early freeze. No need for phosphorus in your turf fertilizer unless you have had a soil analysis that advises you to apply it. Remember phosphorus encourages flowering and fruiting - which turf doesn't need. It also helps plants have a healthy root system, but there is usually enough in Florida's soils to address this need.

Do you know what you're buying when you buy fertilizer? Do you understand what the analysis and the nutrients? The University of Florida has an excellent publication that will allow you to make a good decision when purchasing fertilizer. Always read the label and follow instructions - more is not better!

With the predicted rain this weekend, let the natural rainfall prepare your lawn for fertilizing and then apply the fertilizer after the rain, not before! Don't let it slip away in your stormwater runoff!

I've been warning about hurricane winds and large tree damages for several months now but this year despite having 11 hurricanes, only one hurricane, Bonnie, skirted South Florida. I drove by this Orlando home yesterday with a huge tree that went over in a windy storm this week. It was an old live oak and had been hollow for some time. It missed the house by a few feet.

There's some great gardening finds at the local farmers market this time of year! Look at these beauties that I found at the Winter Park Farmers Market!

The tree-like topiary is an olive tree, Oleo europeana, I love it. Olive trees are becoming a top favorite with Florida gardeners.

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