Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keep Up with Your Landscape Now So You Can Enjoy the Holidays

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keep Up with Your Landscape Now So You Can Enjoy the Holidays

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Brite DelValle

November brings cooler air and lower humidity levels which make it actually pleasant to work outside in the landscape. And there is plenty that can be done before the holiday rush arrives.

For starters, there's lots of plant debris still sitting around thanks to Hurricane Matthew. After noticing neighbors' debris that was placed in bags or containers disappeared, we followed suit. So ours, too, was collected, but for those in our neighborhood who left theirs in a pile, it is still sitting there. Keep in mind what brush piles are used for in a Florida-friendly landscape. They are used to create a habitat for wildlife. The base of the pile is cool, so it attracts amphibians and reptiles. Small mammals also may use it to escape predators like snakes. At the very bottom of our pile, we found two very perturbed garter snakes. Although they were reluctant to move, we herded them into a nearby plant bed. These non-venomous snakes are handy to have around because they help keep rodent populations down.

If plant piles have been sitting on your lawn for the past month, don't expect the grass to bounce back when the piles are removed. Lawns are likely dead and now is NOT a good time to put down new sod. The better choice is to plant annual rye grass now and wait until next spring when you can successfully establish a permanent lawn. Annual ryegrass seed can also be applied on top of your existing lawn to green up your lawn during the winter months. This practice is referred to as overseeding. Another use for rye grass during the winter months is to fill in lawn areas that were damaged due to environmental or pest/disease problems.

The time to put down ryegrass seed in Northeast Florida is October to November, when daytime temperatures are in the low to mid-70s. Prior to putting out the seed, mow the lawn shorter than normal but no lower than 3 inches for St. Augustine grass. Make sure to use a bagger to catch the clippings. Then rake the area to remove all debris so seed will have contact with the soil.

The recommended rate for overseeding is 10 pounds of seed per 1,000-square-foot area. Use a mechanical seeder or a broadcast spreader to distribute the seed. Walk in one direction to apply half the seed, then apply the other half by walking at a right angle to the first application. If you have bare soil, seed to soil contact should not be an issue, but if you are overseeding, use a stiff broom or lawn rake to make sure the seed drops to the soil level. Water lightly once or twice a day until the rye seedlings are well established.

Now you can look forward to lawn maintenance throughout the winter months. If the ryegrass is overseeded on a permanent St. Augustine lawn, mow at 3 inches. For lawns that are 100 percent rye grass, mow at 1 to 2 inches high. …

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