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Naples Lawn Care – Fertilize for flowers

As spring approaches, we look forward to colors in the landscape that remind us of spring. The days are longer, the temperatures are on the rise. This is when our plants ” wake up” from their winter hibernation. Too many times our plants come out of hibernation hungry with no nutrition source.
It is important to fertilize your plants early so the fertilizer will be incorporated into the soil and available to the roots when the plant is ready to produce a spring flush. With Floridas’ sandy soils, any nitrogen and potassium applied to the plants in the fall is likely gone by spring. For this reason, slow release fertilizers are always a good choice to ensure consistent plant nutrition as well as better for the environment.
Finally, for flowering plants, a fertilizer with a high percentage of phosphorous, (the second number of the fertilizer analysis, which is always listed on the bag), is a good choice. For example, an 8-10-10 fertilizer would be a good choice for most flowering plants. Your efforts will be visually rewarding !

Naples Lawn Care- March Tips

Spring is coming and that means one thing. The dry season is here. This time of year we receive the least amount of rainfall until the summer rains begin. Now is the time to check your irrigation system to be sure your lawn is not over/under watered. Plants that are ready to bloom in spring need adequate irrigation to promote growth.
The first thing to do is turn on your system and make sure all the zones work. Many times home owners’ irrigation turns on at night and they are unaware of any malfunction. Each valve should turn on and off as you go through the zones using your irrigation timer. Next, walk through each zone as it runs and be certain there are no broken sprinklers or sprinklers that are clogged. Flag any malfunctioning sprinklers that can be repaired when the system is shut down. Adjust the minutes in the timer for each zone taking into consideration the sprinkler coverage, soil type, and shade.
Finally, be sure to have a rain sensor installed to conserve water as well as prevent from overwatering. Also always follow water management guidelines for Naples lawn care for scheduling of your irrigation. This extra effort will improve your lawn, save water, and save you money.

Naples Lawn Care – February Tips

By late winter in Naples, your lawn has gone through the stress of short days and cooler temperatures. This semi- dormant period is an excellent time to get ahead of the curve in regards to turf nutrition. It is important to have nutritionals in the soil when the grass is ready to grow in the spring. Properly fertilized grass will also be able to compete better with any weeds in the turf. A fertilizer with a 1-0-1 ratio or 2-0-1 will provide adequate nitrogen as well as potassium to stimulate root growth. Fertilizers are required to have 50% slow release fertilizer in the blend in many areas of Naples. Check with city/state guidelines before starting any fertilizer program.

Weeds are also an issue in early spring Naples lawn care. Many fertilizers have an added granular herbicide incorporated into the blend designed to kill any newly emerging weeds.These fertilizers are called “weed and feed”. Atrazine is the most common herbicide that is used in the fertilizer blend. It is relatively inexpensive and it is an effective one, two, punch to give the lawn a head start. It is important to apply atrazine products early in the spring. When the soil temperature increases in late spring, atrazine can burn the grass. Be sure to read label rates for proper application.

Excess leaf debris is often a lawn care problem in February. Oaks, mahogany, cypress, and many other trees shed their leaves this time of year. Too much leaf litter can choke out your lawn. In addition to much leaf litter composted in the soil can change the chemistry of the soil and affect the ph of the soil, hindering the lawns ability to absorb some nutrients. If possible take time to rake or blow these leaves out of the lawn to maximize the lawns’ health.

Bougainvillea is Widely Used in Naples FL


Bougainvillea Flower, Naples Florida


Bougainvillea is a plant widely in Florida for it’s floral color. It is a short day bloomer, meaning the amount of flowers will increase as we head into winter. This also makes it an excellent choice for our snowbird friends ,whom are here in Florida during those months. There are varieties that are more like a vine and have a tendency to climb. There are also some newer varieties that make for a great hedge such as the “Miss Alice” variety, which is also thorn-less as well as dwarf varieties perfect for a small setting.

What comes as a surprise to most people is how little water these plants need. More often than not a sick bougainvillea will be a result of too much water. While we can’t control the rainfall a good suggestion would be to make sure your Bougainvillea does not receive too much water from your irrigation system. This practice accompanied with adequate amounts of fertilizer will help to ensure a healthy flowering plant. Also be sure not to prune the plant heavy just before winter as the terminal ends of established branches provide the flowering color.

Orange Dog Caterpillar in Naples FL

Orange Dog Caterpillar, Naples FL

Orange Dog Caterpillar, Naples FL

When you hear the name orange dog, an odd colored canine may come to mind. But the orange dog caterpillar is actually a citrus tree pest in Naples FL. During the months of August and September the giant swallowtail butterfly will swarm citrus trees laying eggs on the leaves which will hatch to become orange dog caterpillars. The orange dog caterpillar looks like a bird dropping and has two antennae that will protrude when threatened emitting a rancid smell. It is during this phase that the orange dog caterpillar will feed on the leaves of the tree. As it grows it will consume an ever increasing amount of foliage until it pupates.
Control methods consist of manual removal or spraying the tree leaves with a bt insecticide. The bt is not a chemical but actually a bacteria that the orange dog caterpillar will ingest while feeding on the sprayed leaves and consequently die. They are most prevalent in late summer when the butterfly is actively laying eggs

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly

Rugose Spiraling Whitefly is the newest pest to invade Naples’ landscapes. Unlike the ficus whitefly, which has a specific host, RSW will attack over 100 different plant species including palms, white bird of paradise, and oak trees. RSW is easy to identify because it creates a large white spiraling pattern on the underside of the leaf as it lays eggs. Although RSW is not believed to be a potential killer of many plant species, the honeydew secreted by the plant from RSW feeding will result in the formation of sooty mold, which can be quite messy.

Control of RSW for the homeowner consists of applying contact sprays such as horticultural oils or soap. Application of systemic insecticides by foliage spray or a ground drench offer longer lasting control and protect the plant from the inside out. Hopefully in the future better control will be accomplished with the help of beneficial biological predators such as parasitic wasps.

Overlooked Weed Control Tool In Turf

In Florida, there are many species of weeds that can compete with your lawn.Some weeds are easy to control, others such as crab grass and carpet-grass are more of a challenge.

One tool often overlooked as a preventative measure is proper turf fertilization. A healthy lawn will inhibit sunlight from reaching germinating weed seeds. Maintaining your grass’ dominance in the lawn with fertilizer will build a strong defense against weeds in the lawn. This is especially true in winter.

If you already have weeds in the lawn, turf friendly herbicide treatments may be needed. The old adage ” an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies.

Chinch Bugs Love Hot Dry Weather

Chinch Bugs, Naples FL

Chinch Bugs, Naples FL

Chinch bug season is here in Naples. Look for brown dead patches in your lawn, especially near street curbs and in dry sunny areas of your lawn. Grass blades near the edges of the dead brown areas will have a yellowish color. Grass that is under watered is especially vulnerable to chinch bugs.

As rainy season approaches, be sure your irrigation rain sensors are working properly. This will prevent over watering in the summer which can contribute to a fungus problem in your grass. Eliminating unnecessary irrigation will also save you money on your water bill.

Summer rains often bring fungus to your grass. Be sure your mower blades are kept sharp ensuring a smooth cut aiding fungus prevention. Also do not let your grass get too tall between cuts as this also contributes to fungus development.