Gainesville Landscape Pest of the month: Drought Stress

The old saying "April showers bring May flowers" was said by someone who didn't live near Gainesville Florida. In our area, April is consistently the driest time of year. It’s when the spring season starts and Gainesville yards begin to heat up, but the summer afternoon storms and humidity haven't come yet.

This dry weather also brings in a past "Pest of the Month," which is Drought Stress. Although the word 'pest' is typically used to describe an insect such as chinch bugs or webworms, the term is actually used to describe anything that is 'pestering' the lawn, and this month it is drought stress.

As water becomes limited, your turfgrass will give off signs that it’s in need of watering. If you spot these warnings in advance, you can alter your sprinkler schedule to avoid drought stress and keep your lawn green and healthy.

Here are a few warning signs to keep in mind:

If the color shade of your grass is...

Gainesville Landscape Pest of the month: Holly scale

Have you noticed a black moldy coating on the leaves of your holly plant? This isn’t mold, it’s actually a symptom of our pest of the month. Holly Scale. Your hollies have an infestation of one of the many kinds of scale insects. Scale can’t digest all the sap they suck from leaves so they secrete honeydew, which allows sooty mold to grow on leaves. The honeydew accumulates on the foliage and can cause it to look shiny and feel sticky.

This rich food source does not go unnoticed. Ants, wasps and other insects may be attracted to the sweet honeydew. Even more common is the growth of fungal organisms that produce an unattractive black coating on the leaves called sooty mold. These fungi feed on the honeydew and do not attack or directly damage the plant, but the appearance of sooty mold is often the gardener’s first noticeable sign of trouble.

Light infestations of scale can be scraped off by hand or infested branches pruned out. Promptly dispose of prunings. For...

Gainesville Landscape Pest of the Month: Large Patch Fungus

During the winter months, your grass may begin showing brown circular spots that seem to be struggling. This is the first sign of Large Patch Fungus, which is a fungal disease commonly seen in Florida lawns during the cooler months, particularly St. Augustine and Zoysia grass.

Turf in Florida is most vulnerable to this  Fungus when rainfall, high humidity, or excessive irrigation leave your lawn damp for a duration of more than 48 hours. This turf disease is active when nighttime temperatures range from 60-75 degrees and daytime temperatures don’t exceed 85-90 degrees. This is the biggest reason why it is so prevalent in spring and summer, as the high temperatures that typically evaporate the moisture aren't present in early spring and late fall.

To reduce the chances of being infected by Brown Patch Fungus, or limit and manage the disease water your lawn on an as-needed basis, rather than just a set schedule, and consider the time of year and rainfall, to...

January’s Lawn Pest of the Month: Frost Damage / Leopard Print

During the cool season here in Florida you will find frost damage to your lawn that almost looks like leopard print. Frost damage can happen without freezing temperatures. The National Weather Service measures the air temperature about 6 feet above ground level however, the ground-level temperature might be even lower.

This swirly leopard print pattern is caused by the grass going into a dormant state during the cool season and may also happen as your lawn comes out of hibernation in late winter.

If you notice this pattern in your winter lawn, don’t fret, it can be fixed. Your grass will steadily green-up moving into the spring with the longer days and warmer temperatures. Allow your lawn to recover and continue mowing at the optional mowing height for your particular grass. It may take a few weeks for the pattern to dissipate, once it does, you can mow the grass back down to ⅓ of the blade to avoid scalping the grass.

Your landscape creates a powerful first...

Gainesville Landscape Pest of the Month: Winter Weeds

As winter comes, grass grows dormant for the cold winter months, by shutting down and turning brown in order to conserve water and nutrients.

Common winter annual weeds are chickweed, henbit, Carolina geranium, annual bluegrass, hop clover, and lawn burweed. These weeds will be bright green in comparison to your dormant grass.

You can control these weeds by preventing their growth in the warmer months. These weeds are in your lawn all year long but are dormant in the warmer months. Once you begin seeing the weeds, they are actually close to the end of their life cycle. So for now, mowing over the weeds might be your best bet. But this is not your permanent solution.

To be sure you do not struggle with the same problem next winter, it is important to spray preemergence herbicide in the fall when nightly temperatures are between 55° to 60°F
for several consecutive nights (Usually beginning in October). Doing this will form a barrier on the soil surface...

4 Tips at Keeping Mosquitos out of your Gainesville Landscape

Mosquitoes are an unfortunate fact of life, especially in Florida. They can quickly turn your backyard landscape oasis into a nightmare you’d rather forget.

Like many insects, mosquitoes are prolific breeders. A female mosquito needs a blood meal to lay eggs which is why they’re persistently looking to feed from you. A mosquito can lay anywhere from 50-300 eggs at once depending on species and the time of year – that’s a lot more mosquito bites coming your way!
It may not be possible to get rid of mosquitoes completely, but by making some changes to your property you can make your home and backyard much less inviting for these pests. Some smart Gainesville landscaping changes around your house can change your yard from a haven for mosquitoes to a place that offers them nothing beneficial and they’ll go terrorize someone else. Here are some things you need to do to prevent as many mosquitoes as possible from setting...

Why does my Crape Myrtle tree have black mold on the leaves?

One of the most common plants in Gainesville landscapes are the Crape Myrtle tree or dwarf shrub, known for their beautiful summer colors. Their pink, white, red, and purple flowers brighten north Florida landscapes throughout the late spring, summer, and early fall. However, they are also known for getting a black sooty mold covering the leaves that may leave you wondering, "why does my crape myrtle have mold?"

The black covering isn't a mold, fungus, or disease  - it's actualy the symptom of a Gainesville landscape pest-  the crape myrtle aphid.

To control these Gainesville lawn pests (Crape Myrtle Aphids), we recommend one of three ways. However none of these will remove the sooty mold - just the pest causing the sooty mold. The black discoloration will go away as it drops it's leaves and regenerates growth in the spring.

1 - If it's late enough in fall and the...

Time to Plan Your Fall Gainesville Landscaping Task List!

The time has finally come to begin planning your fall Gainesville landscaping tasks. Schedule the projects, purchase supplies, and plan what your priorities are -although the actual to-do list won't begin just yet. You will be fertilizing your lawn, monitoring lawn pest and weed activity, and dialing in irrigation schedules. You may also choose to add some fall seasonal color or add new shrubs and trees.

Quick Tip: What are those Round Growths on my Live Oak tree?

Each year around Summer, we get clients inquiring about 'these weird little round growths' they are finding in their trees, commonly Live Oaks.

These 'weird little balls’ are called galls, which are plant tissue growths caused by exposure to small doses of hormone-like chemicals, which are produced by the gall makers. The gall makers can be many different things - but usually it is insects that cause them. Galls can actually occur on roots, flowers, bark, and buds, but people generally notice them when they are on leaves or twigs because they're the easiest to spot. 

Most often clients ask me about the galls that are appearing on their oak trees, as they are common in Gainesville, FL landscapes. It is usually mealy oak galls they are finding which are tan and can be roughly the size of a jaw breaker, as the photo shows.

The galls will eventually drop, at which point they are woody and hard under bare feet in your lawn. If you look closely at one you’ll note a...

5 Tips to Help Your Lawn Beat the Dry Spell

We’ve gotten a number of calls from customers asking questions about how to improve their lawn's appearance in the North Florida dry spell. Lawns are struggling from drought stress in any area that gets sun exposure, landscape plants are beginning to wilt, and you're already watering with your sprinkler system. What can you do?

Until we begin to get normal rainfall, here are some watering tips. Notice that these tips are beyond the basics of watering early in the morning, follow the 2 day per week schedule (unless you have new sod or plants), and put down an inch of water. These tips are specifically the dry spells we have come accustomed to a couple times a year in Gainesville landscapes. These tips need to be reveresed after normal rainfall begins as you could create problems with overwatering and fungus when the dry spell ends. 

  • Use the Seasonal Adjust function -On most irrigation controllers installed in the past decade, there is an option
  • ...