Category Archives: Lawn Care

The Benefits of Core Aeration and Top Dressing for Northeast Florida Lawns.

The Benefits of Core Aeration and Top Dressing for Northeast Florida Lawns.

In the quest for a verdant and thriving lawn, especially in the distinctive sandy soils of Northeast Florida, understanding the benefits of core aeration and top dressing is paramount. These lawn care practices are not just beneficial; they are necessary for the long-term health and vitality of your turf. Let’s explore why these techniques are so effective and how they contribute to a healthy lawn.

lawn aeration

Understanding Core Aeration

Core aeration is a process that combats the common issues of soil compaction and thatch build-up, which are prevalent in our sandy Northeast Florida soils. By removing small “cores” of soil, we create a pathway for air, water, and nutrients to reach the root zone of your grass. Here are the benefits you can expect:

 

  • Air Exchange Improvement:

    Aeration facilitates better exchange of air between the soil and atmosphere, which is essential for root respiration and growth.

  • Water Uptake Enhancement:

    The process allows for better water absorption, helping to reduce runoff and increase moisture retention in the root zone.

  • Fertilizer Efficiency:

    Aerated soils enable better fertilizer uptake, ensuring that essential nutrients are more readily available to the grass roots.

  • Root System Development:

    Loosening the soil helps to foster a stronger and deeper root system, key to a resilient and lush lawn.

  • Soil Decompaction:

    By breaking up compacted soil, aeration encourages a healthier soil environment for turfgrass to grow.

The Role of Organic Matter

The addition of organic matter to the soil is another crucial step in nurturing a healthy lawn. Organic matter has a multitude of benefits, including:

Top Dressing amendment

 

  • Moisture Retention:

    It acts much like a sponge, absorbing and holding moisture for extended periods, which is particularly useful during dry spells.

  • Soil Aeration and Structure:

    The introduction of organic material creates air pockets and loosens soil structure, leading to improved root growth and enhanced water absorption and drainage.

  • Nutrient Provision:

    As it decomposes, organic matter slowly releases nutrients that are vital for plant growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

  • Soil Biology Enhancement:

    The incorporation of organic matter supports a diverse ecosystem of soil organisms that contribute to the overall health of the lawn by breaking down organic material and fighting off pests and diseases.

Top Dressing: A Nutrient Booster

Top dressing, when applied after core aeration, can significantly amplify the benefits of the aeration process. By filling the aeration holes with nutrient-rich organic compost or a similar medium, the soil is directly amended where it matters most. This can enhance the soil’s water retention capabilities, provide a direct nutrient boost, and introduce beneficial microorganisms that help create a robust and balanced soil ecosystem.

Screenshot 2024 02 06 at 10.55.44 PM

Practical Lawn Care Strategies

Incorporating these practices into regular lawn care routines can have a profound effect on the health of your lawn. Here are some strategies for homeowners:

  • Regular Aeration:

    Aerate your lawn annually or biannually to maintain soil health and ensure nutrient availability.

  • Organic Top Dressing:

    Following aeration, apply a layer of organic compost to enrich the soil and provide a healthy growing environment for your grass.

  • Appropriate Grass Selection:

    Choose turfgrasses that are well-suited to the climate and soil conditions of Northeast Florida to ensure the best growth and resilience.

  • Soil Testing:

    Conduct periodic soil tests to identify nutrient deficiencies and pH imbalances, adjusting your lawn care practices accordingly.

By understanding and implementing core aeration and top dressing, homeowners in Northeast Florida can significantly improve the health and appearance of their lawns. These practices promote deeper root growth, enhance soil quality, and help establish a lush, green turf that is both beautiful and sustainable.

Earth Works Lawn Care: Your Partner in Lawn Excellence

At Earth Works, we’ve seen phenomenal results from these services. Your turf and plants won’t just survive; they’ll thrive. If you’re ready to improve your lawn’s health and enhance its beauty, reach out to us at 904.996.0712. Let’s work together to create the lush, green oasis you’ve always wanted in Northeast Florida.

Services

  • Landscape Design & Installation
  • Paver Patios, Paver Walkways, Paver Driveways
  • Firepits, Retaining Walls, Seat Walls
  • Landscape Lighting, Drainage design & Installation,
  • Lawn Care Services, Lawn Maintenance, Lawn Fertilization
  • Lawn Pest Control, Lawn Weed Control
  • Aeration and Top Dressing
  • Water Features, Koi Ponds,
  • Waterfalls, Bubbling Fountains
  • Garden Center & Pond Supply Store

General Services Areas

Jacksonville (Jax), Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Orange Park, St. Johns, Nocatee

Location

GARDEN CENTER
12501 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32246

LANDSCAPE OPERATIONS
(not open to the public)
St. Johns Bluff
1057 St. Johns Bluff Rd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Hours

Monday-Saturday 9-5
Sunday 10-5

HOLIDAY CLOSINGS
New Year’s Day • Easter • Memorial Day
July 4th • Labor Day • Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve • Christmas Day

Why Did My Leaves Turn Black?

Why Did My Leaves Turn Black?

Insect secretions of honeydew and the resulting sooty mold biofilm buildup are why your plant’s leaves turn black. The sooty mold has a mutualist relationship with sap-sucking insect pests that create favorable growth conditions for the fungus. Blocking photosynthesis is the only harm to the plant caused beside the unsightly appearance of this fungus. “On pecan (Carva illinoensis) these molds can reduce light penetration and photosynthesis by factors of from 25% to 98%,” according to Science Direct. “In addition, the darkening of the leaf surface can result in an increase in leaf temperature of 4°C.”

Plants whose leaves turn black include azaleas, camellias, citrus trees, crepe myrtles, gardenias, elms, hollies, maples, podocarpus, and mostly evergreen plants. Susceptible plants tend to have rigid leaves that hold up well to prolong infestations.

Aphids, scale, mealybugs, mites, scale, and whiteflies pierce and suck out nutrients from the host plant. They then secrete the sticky honeydew waste product that fungal spores attach to as the leaves turn black. While other plants, such as herbaceous perennials, can be affected by the same insects, they are more likely to die before the buildup of secondary black sooty mold.

sooty citrus mold
CITRUS

There are two identified forms of sooty mold categorized as deciduous and permanent. “The deciduous growth form is characterized by a thin hyphal layer that peels away from its substratum in drier, cooler months,” according to Science Direct. “It is found predominantly in lowland tropical regions but is absent from rainforests. The deciduous form also occurs along the coast of the southeastern United States and commonly is found on citrus trees.”

While the type of sooty mold commonly encountered can dry up and flake off during cool and dry seasons, it’s most effectively removed by washing with soap and water. Soaking the leaves and hand washing will loosen the mold away. This can be also be done with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil that also treats the primary pests. However, horticultural oils should not be used during freezing or over 90F temperatures or drought-stressed plants. You might see mention of ‘dormant oils’, which are horticultural oils used to treat overwintering aphids, mites, scale, and other sap suckers’ eggs. Always read label directions making sure that the treatment suits your specific plant. And don’t use horticultural oil on azaleas, begonias, or succulents. 

Neem Oil
sooty citrus mold research

There is ongoing research into biocontrols of sooty citrus mold and the associated insects. Bacillus velezensis MT9 and Pseudomonas chlororaphis MT5. “These bacteria were shown to produce antibacterial and antifungal activities in the form of water-soluble molecules and were effective in vitro in inhibiting the growth of two fungal strains, Penicillium sp. YM1 and YM2, isolated from citrus soot,” according to researchers at the University of Salento, Via Monteroni in Italy. “Altogether these in vitro findings and pilot experiments with a limited set of plants indicate that Bacillus velezensis MT9 and Pseudomonas chlororaphis MT5 can effectively combat sooty mold possibly by acting on both the insects and the fungi that inhabit the black biofilm, paving the way for an innovative and sustainable tool to fight this disease.”

Beneficial insects such as Ladybugs, Lacewings, and some predator wasps are a long-term natural remedy for sap-sucking insects. However, maintaining a sufficient population can take time and effort. If you want to introduce them in your yard, consider available species from Arbico organics. Earth Works garden center has the organic treatments mentioned in this article available for purchase.

Earth Works Lawn Care provides Integrated Pest Management treatment programs based on what we see with pest populations throughout the community and your specific landscape.

earthworksjax spray truck
.ctct-inline-form { color: #fff!important; } .ctct-inline-form input { width: 100%!important; margin-bottom: 15px!important; color: #fff!important; } .ctct-inline-form label { margin-top: 15px!important; }

Services

  • Landscape Design & Installation
  • Paver Patios, Paver Walkways, Paver Driveways
  • Firepits, Retaining Walls , Seat Walls,
  • Landscape Lighting, Drainage design & Installation,
  • Lawn Care Services, Lawn Maintenance, Lawn Fertilization
  • Lawn Pest Control, Lawn Weed Control
  • Aeration and Top Dressing
  • Water Features, Koi Ponds,
  • Waterfalls, Bubbling Fountains
  • Garden Center & Pond Supply Store

General Services Areas

Jacksonville (Jax), Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Orange Park, St. Johns, Nocatee

Location

GARDEN CENTER
12501 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32246

LANDSCAPE OPERATIONS
(not open to the public)
St. Johns Bluff
1057 St. Johns Bluff Rd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Hours

Monday-Saturday 9-5
Sunday 10-5

HOLIDAY CLOSINGS
New Year’s Day • Easter • Memorial Day
July 4th • Labor Day • Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve • Christmas Day

When Should I Apply Weed And Feed?

When Should I Apply Weed And Feed?

For North Florida lawns we recommend clients apply Weed & Feed fertilizer and herbicides no sooner than March 1. Applying Weed & Feed fertilizer at the proper time is critical to its success in providing nutrition to your grass and eliminating and/or preventing new weeds. The University of Florida recommends considering the application of weed and feed beginning on February 15 for Central and South Florida and March 1 for North Florida. Some suggest waiting until the warm-season grass begins to green up on its own or until April to fertilize. “Waiting allows for more efficient use of the fertilizer. You will not injure your lawn by waiting to fertilize, but you can certainly injure your lawn by fertilizing too early,” writes Larry Williams, the Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

“Knowing how to manage and prevent weed intrusion is an important part of integrated pest management (IPM),” University of Florida Gardening Solutions. “Gardening Solutions has an extensive list of common weeds, and identifying plant pests is the first step to managing them effectively.”

weed and feed

Weed and Feed Fertilizers Additional Ingredients

Be aware that most weed and feed products include fertilizer and a post-emergent herbicide to kill existing weeds. At the same time, many also have a pre-emergent to prevent the germination of new seasonal varieties. Always read the product label and know that Weed and Feed fertilizer products are developed for specific grasses that may harm them if applied to other grasses. Read product labels along with purchase and use the appropriate time weed and feed designed for your specific lawn.

Crazy Weather Impacts When To Apply Weed and Feed Fertilizer

Average high and low temperatures per week heading out of Winter is the critical factor in when to apply weed and feed. North Florida lawns experience widely varied high & low average temperatures coming out of Winter. Rainfall is another crucial factor and is challenging to forecast with changing climatic conditions. Lower average temperature and increased precipitation would undermine any potential benefit of weed and feed application in North Florida in February. Applying Weed and Feed fertilizer too early results in the nitrogen in the fertilizer component benefiting the existing weeds and little to no benefit to the dormant sod. Excessive rain can result in Weed and Feed fertilizer being washed away and polluting nearby surface waters such as the St. Johns River, its tributaries, and area lakes.

crazy weather ahead
weed treatment

Is Applying Weed and Feed Fertilizer Best For You?

Using fertilizer and spot treating for weeds is an alternative to Weed & Feed fertilizer. Be sure to test your soil pH, dethatch and aerate the soil, and have a system to ensure proper watering heading into Spring. Water restrictions for the City of Jacksonville loosen during Daylight Savings Time (Second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November), allowing twice-per-week residential landscape irrigation. You can learn more about Free Soil Testing in Northeast Florida.

.ctct-inline-form { color: #fff!important; } .ctct-inline-form input { width: 100%!important; margin-bottom: 15px!important; color: #fff!important; } .ctct-inline-form label { margin-top: 15px!important; }

Services

  • Landscape Design & Installation
  • Paver Patios, Paver Walkways, Paver Driveways
  • Firepits, Retaining Walls , Seat Walls,
  • Landscape Lighting, Drainage design & Installation,
  • Lawn Care Services, Lawn Maintenance, Lawn Fertilization
  • Lawn Pest Control, Lawn Weed Control
  • Aeration and Top Dressing
  • Water Features, Koi Ponds,
  • Waterfalls, Bubbling Fountains
  • Garden Center & Pond Supply Store

General Services Areas

Jacksonville (Jax), Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Orange Park, St. Johns, Nocatee

Location

GARDEN CENTER
12501 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32246

LANDSCAPE OPERATIONS
(not open to the public)
St. Johns Bluff
1057 St. Johns Bluff Rd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Hours

Monday-Saturday 9-5
Sunday 10-5

HOLIDAY CLOSINGS
New Year’s Day • Easter • Memorial Day
July 4th • Labor Day • Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve • Christmas Day

Seasonal Lawn Fungus Threats

Seasonal Lawn Fungus Threats

The seasonal lawn fungus threats are at their peak in Spring and Fall when nights are cool and humidity is high here in Northeast Florida.  A good lawn fungus application is recommended. There are natural solutions such as baking soda and neem oil but rarely do lawn care pest control companies go that route for commercial applications.

A well-maintained lawn is the best defense against most lawn issues. A healthy lawn is less susceptible to long-term fungal disease outbreaks. Plus, minor outbreaks may go away on their own as some die with seasonal temperature variations and increases or decreases in rain and watering. Those same variations in temperature, water supply, and nutrition put the poorly maintained lawn at greater risk of damage from disease when an outbreak occurs. To understand this better consider that a healthy body heals quicker than a sick one.

Dethatching and aerating the turf along with the proper type of fertilizer at the proper timing for fertilization improves turf disease resistance. Mowing the grass at the proper height with a sharp blade likewise reduces turf disease susceptibility. And no good deed goes unpunished as putting out that same high nitrogen fertilizer you were using earlier in the year will mostly grow weeds and forms of fungus in the Fall. Reduce the days and duration of watering in the fall and increase again in spring.

Lawn fungus appears in many forms including white, yellow and brown patches, multiple colored spots on the grass blades, a powdery or stringy coating on the grass and slick, slimy darkened colored grass. Whatever type of fungus you may have, know that it spreads by spores. So walking on it increases the risk of spreading the spores to other parts of your lawn.

There are two types of lawn fungicides, foliar liquids and granular systemic. The liquid is fast-acting with less residual benefit whereas the granular works its way up through the root system over time. For long-term treatment, alternate both modes of application foliar and granular since different fungicides absorb differently and build resistance to treatments.

For seasonal lawn fungus here at Earth Works we use and recommend a broad-spectrum fungicide that is available in both foliar and granular form by the brand name HeadwayG with azoxystrobin & propiconazole. This treats various brown patches, rust, ring spots, powdery mildew, blight, red thread, and root rot. Typically treat twice and fourteen days apart. The untreated fungus can spread and be very damaging to the lawn over time. So don’t mow when the fungus is present which would encourage its spread.

Heritage G 1024x1024 1

Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. Stop by our retail center or contact us online or by phone at 904-996-0712.

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

.ctct-inline-form { color: #fff!important; } .ctct-inline-form input { width: 100%!important; margin-bottom: 15px!important; color: #fff!important; } .ctct-inline-form label { margin-top: 15px!important; }

Services

  • Landscape Design & Installation
  • Paver Patios, Paver Walkways, Paver Driveways
  • Firepits, Retaining Walls , Seat Walls,
  • Landscape Lighting, Drainage design & Installation,
  • Lawn Care Services, Lawn Maintenance, Lawn Fertilization
  • Lawn Pest Control, Lawn Weed Control
  • Aeration and Top Dressing
  • Water Features, Koi Ponds,
  • Waterfalls, Bubbling Fountains
  • Garden Center & Pond Supply Store

General Services Areas

Jacksonville (Jax), Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Orange Park, St. Johns, Nocatee

Location

GARDEN CENTER
12501 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32246

LANDSCAPE OPERATIONS
(not open to the public)
St. Johns Bluff
1057 St. Johns Bluff Rd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Hours

Monday-Saturday 9-5
Sunday 10-5

HOLIDAY CLOSINGS
New Year’s Day • Easter • Memorial Day
July 4th • Labor Day • Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve • Christmas Day

Florida Winterizer Fertilization

Florida Winterizer Fertilization

Florida Winterizer Fertilization of warm-season grasses if done should be done with a nitrogen-free product and applied prior to dormancy. Although many brands promote the sale of Winterizing fertilizers that include nitrogen, these are not appropriate for warm-season grasses. They encourage new grass blade development that alters the dormancy cycle that, by design, is nature’s way of protecting the plant from cold damage—waking the plant before a freeze puts it at risk of increased stress and death. “Many of the so-called winterizer fertilizers available in our area can cause more damage than good,” according to UF/IFAS. “The time to fertilize our warm-season grasses in Florida is during the growing season, not when the grasses are going to “sleep” for the winter.”

The three macro-nutrients listed on the label of all fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, abbreviated as NPK. If choosing a Wintering lawn fertilizer, we only recommend an NPK with phosphorus and potassium. “Adding phosphorus to soil low in available phosphorus promotes root growth and winter hardiness, stimulates tillering, and often hastens maturity,” according to University of Nebraska Plant & Soil elibrary. “Potassium is a vital component of numerous plant functions, including nutrient absorption, respiration, transpiration, and enzyme activity.” Both phosphurus and potassium are essential for plant maintenance and support, according to the Noble Research Institute.

Our Florida Winterizer Fertilization recommendation is for an NPK of only phosphorus and potassium. This nitrogen-free formulation is most readily available for retail sale with a 0-10-10 NPK.

It’s also essential to know your soil pH when supplementing with fertilizers. These macro-nutrients are only fully bioavailable at a pH of 6.5 or above and decreasingly available below. “In a very acid soil of pH 5.0 only 40% of the nitrogen is available, 35% of the phosphorus and 50% of the potassium,” according to Allotment Garden.org. “Increasing to an average plot’s pH 5.5 takes the nitrogen and potassium up to 70% availability but the phosphorus is still only at 45% availability. It’s not until the pH hits 6.5 that all the big 3 nutrients are fully available to fuel the plants.”

Where can I get my soil analyzed?
The University of Florida Extension Office in Duval County provides free soil pH analysis that takes typically 7-10 business days to get results. Samples should be dry which is best provided to them in paper bag whereas plastic holds moisture. Samples should be gathered from a few different areas of the landscape and dropped off in person at the extension office.
Contact the University of Florida Extension Office in Duval County for more information at (904)255-7450. Find out more about soil and soil testing in our article Soil Testing In Northeast Florida.

For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden and landscaping need contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online and at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions.

soil pH nutrient availability 05

Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. Stop by our retail center or contact us online or by phone at 904-996-0712.

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

.ctct-inline-form {

color: #fff!important;

}

.ctct-inline-form input {

width: 100%!important;

margin-bottom: 15px!important;

color: #fff!important;

}

.ctct-inline-form label {

margin-top: 15px!important;

}

 

Services

  • Landscape Design & Installation
  • Paver Patios, Paver Walkways, Paver Driveways
  • Firepits, Retaining Walls , Seat Walls,
  • Landscape Lighting, Drainage design & Installation,
  • Lawn Care Services, Lawn Maintenance, Lawn Fertilization
  • Lawn Pest Control, Lawn Weed Control
  • Aeration and Top Dressing
  • Water Features, Koi Ponds,
  • Waterfalls, Bubbling Fountains
  • Garden Center & Pond Supply Store

General Services Areas

Jacksonville (Jax), Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Orange Park, St. Johns, Nocatee

Location

GARDEN CENTER
12501 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32246

LANDSCAPE OPERATIONS
(not open to the public)
St. Johns Bluff
1057 St. Johns Bluff Rd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Hours

Monday-Saturday 9-5
Sunday 10-5

HOLIDAY CLOSINGS
New Year’s Day • Easter • Memorial Day
July 4th • Labor Day • Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve • Christmas Day

Lawn Cleanup Tips For Storms

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian or any storm, we’d recommend following these lawn cleanup tips for storms.

-Inspect trees and roofs for broken or fallen limbs. Remove them before doing other yard debris removal to avoid any double working. If significant damage is identified that you cannot safely deal with, consider contacting a professional tree surgeon.

-Cut up larger pieces of tree limbs with a chain saw and lopping shears.
-Rake up sticks, twigs, and leaf debris. Don’t use lawn mowers for this as it can damage mower and mower blades, resulting in flying debris that causes personal injury and property damage.

Lawn Cleanup Tips For Storms

-Mow the lawn after all debris is removed. Chopping up storm debris with a lawn mower can also leave large chunks of debris in your yard that can kill the turf as it can take months to deteriorate.

-After evaluating your trees, shrubs, and garden beds for potential plant damage trim or remove damaged growth. Make lemonade from lemons and consider replacing trees and/or refreshing landscape beds and shrubs with new varieties. Visit your favorite garden center for new and replacement plants. This could be a great time to schedule a design consultation and have Earth Works complete a landscape makeover.

Lawn Cleanup Tips For Storms

-Separate yard debris from other household trash and containerize it if required by your municipal trash service. Some services allow large piles of rubble, whereas others need it all to be containerized to a specific size and weight. Refer to your local regulations and potential new pickup times after a storm.
-Avoid piling yard trash up for trash pickup in an area that will smother your good turf, as in bad storms and hurricanes. Realize that it can take longer than usual for removal by your municipal trash service.

Lawn Cleanup Tips For Storms

-Assess any drainage issues that occurred during the storm and consider drainage solutions appropriate for your circumstances.
-Resume your regular irrigation schedule after giving the landscape time to dry out.

Take advantage of Fall Landscaping weather by booking your Landscape Design Consultation today by contacting us at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions.

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

Fall Lawn and Garden Checklist

Autumn arrives on September 22, ushering in our Fall lawn and garden checklist of steps to get the most out of your lawn and garden. Here in Northeast Florida, we experience cooler temperatures and sooner than Florida communities further south, but this checklist is generally applicable for lawns and gardens throughout the state.

Plant trees and shrubs as soil temperatures remain warm as air temperatures decline, putting less stress on new plantings and transplants.
Address any drainage and percolation problems that will damage or destroy turf. When the water table or zone of saturation is such that the soil is soggy the available oxygen supply to your turf is diminished which kills turf the same as if it was underwater in a flood. Soggy soil encourages fungus growth such as Take-All Root Rot below ground and a cornucopia of fungus species above grown that kill turf and other plants in the landscape.

Aerate and provide top-dressing soil to your lawn in the Fall or Winter to improve percolation and replenish macro and micronutrients used and leached from your soil. Percolation reduces soggy soil conditions and improves plants’ ability to absorb nutrients. Top dressing with nutrient-enriched soil increases microbial activity such as that of Mycorrhiza fungi that convert nutrients to bioavailable forms for turf and other plants in the landscape.

 

Prepare the ground for Fall herbs and vegetable garden beds, perennials, and Spring bulbs, adding compost and soil amendments specifically formulated for the growing requirements of your plantings. For the veggie beds consider planting Beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, radishes, summer squash, and turnips.

Refresh container gardening arrangements with Fall season color. Refer to our monthly Container Gardening Recipes for tips on what will do well each season.

September Container Gardening Recipe

Rooting hardwood cuttings is best done in Fall.
Raise mower blades as less frequent mowing is required as warm season grasses prepare to go into dormancy.
Spread grass seed and lay sod as temperatures have moderated. Many will overseed with ryegrass to green and thicken up the lawn in Fall and Winter.
Keep your lawn turf thick, which can crowd out weeds and prevent weed seeds from getting sunlight that aids in their germination. Continue pulling weeds, and observing good cultural practices, and only then if necessary consider treating with herbicide. Always follow the herbicide manufacturer’s directions. Learn which weeds you are dealing with and their stage of development, which is critical to their treatment. Warm-season weeds will be dying back and replaced with cool-season weeds, which requires the right choice between preemergent and post-emergent herbicide application.
Apply Weed and Feed, commonly called Winterizer this time of year prior to turf dormancy. Remember that any preemergent herbicide component will prevent any new grass seeds from germinating. The appropriate NPK formulation for Fall Winterizers is high in potassium and low in nitrogen. Unlike, Spring when nitrogen benefits new growth that same growth in Fall would be threatened by Winter cold and stress the plant. Adequate potassium provided the grass while its still actively taking in nutrients provides warm season grasses greater protection from stress heading into dormancy. However, weigh the fact that herbicides in general stress St. Augustine grass when applying them as a component of your Winterizer.
Rake, mulch, or bag falling leaves to avoid leaf litter blocking landscape plants’ available sunlight.

Stop by the Earth Works garden center for more information and assistance implementing our Florida Fall Lawn and Garden checklist. Get a free quote for aeration and top dressing and book a landscape design consultation today!

For newcomers to Florida be sure to attend our Welcome to Florida seminar on Oct. 21, 2022, from 5-8 pm. Matthew Barlow, Earth Works Garden Center Manager will introduce Florida newcomers to need-to-know gardening and landscape information. Enjoy appetizers and drinks while you mingle with other Jacksonville transplants and get all your gardening questions answered.

$25 Cover Charge. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite or in-store.

Take advantage of Fall Landscaping weather by booking your Landscape Design Consultation today by contacting us at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions.

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

Organic Fertilizers Benefits Over Synthetics

Organic fertilization supports healthy soil ecology that benefits home gardening and landscaping more than reliance on synthetic fertilizers. By definition, with fertilization, we want to enrich the nutrients in the soil. Organic fertilization increases the microbial activity of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes, all components of healthy soil ecology that don’t require synthetic inputs. Synthetic fertilization feeds the plant, not the soil.

Organic fertilizers are more forgiving and less likely to burn plants than synthetics used by non-professionals. Many likewise believe organically grown foods taste better. “Several studies have reported that organic produce stores better and has longer shelf life than conventional produce due to the lower nitrate levels in organic produce,” according to Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. “Organic apples are generally firmer and have superior storage properties. Organic potatoes contain more vitamin C. Many studies have found that lower yields, better taste, more vitamin C and higher antioxidant levels in organic fruits and vegetables are correlated with lower levels of readily available nitrogen.”

Although synthetic fertilizers are potent and a quick fix for a slow-growing garden, the widespread use of synthetics is consequential. “The effects of chemical fertilizers on soil include; acidification, which limits the nutrient bioavailability, accumulation of toxic elements like, cadmium, fluoride, radioactive elements, lead, arsenic, chromium, and nickel, and finally disruption of the biology of the soil,” according to Bashar Khiatah, MD. “In regards to human health, the effects of chemical fertilizers are serious, both with their direct toxic effect, or in the indirect effects that are related to decreasing the nutrient density in the consumed plants. This exposure comes from a chemical reaction between nitrites and secondary amines or proteins and causes DNA damage, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and pro-inflammatory cytokine activation, which together leads to increased cellular degeneration and death.”

APM Colorado

The frustration for many residential homeowners having difficulty with their gardening and landscape began with poor soil. “Most of the time consumers are growing in backfill from the foundation of their home,” said Sid Raisch, CEO of Horticultural Advantage. “It is not soil, it is sub(beneath)soil. It has value to hold up soil above it, if any was added, but nothing else. It is usually high in clay particles and low in loam (organic matter) and what is there is often anaerobic with little living organisms and void of many minerals. It is very difficult and expensive to change this.”

While many experts in agriculture view plant nutritional needs as elements of the periodic table, others view those exact needs through a prism of interconnected ecology and outcomes. Permaculture and Soil Regenerative agriculture advocates challenge us to live sustainably and leave our ecosystem better than we found it. The critical components of this journey are the reduced reliance on synthetic fertilizers while improving soil microbial health with organic fertilization that helps plants grow strong and healthy.

“Our yard is a thin crust of junk over coral rock,” said Erik Dietl-Friedli, manager at Flamingo Road Nursery in Davie, Florida. “I have literally planted with a pry bar and can dig a well with a stick, since our water table is so high. Over the years, I allowed our garden to become a jungle and left the leaf litter to decompose into the “soil”. This past year I had the jungle removed and have been replacing with Florida native and butterfly plants. Years of leaf litter have transformed our soil into actual soil. Digging has been much easier than in the past and the quality of the soil is much improved. Earthworms and other “Life” are present where there was nothing in the beginning. I will not disrupt this with synthetics. After my garden settles, I will fertilize only with Espoma products. I like that they contain beneficial bacteria in addition to other healthy, organic ingredients.”

Earth Works recommends Espoma Bio-Tone Starter Plus Plant Food organic fertilizer enriched with beneficial microbes and both endo & ectomycorrhizal fungi to support healthy soil ecology for beautiful plants year after year.

“You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.”
― Geoff Lawton

USDA

For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden, and landscaping needs, contact us at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions.
Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

6 Essential February Lawn and Garden Tips

Consider these six essential February lawn and garden tips for a beautiful close to winter and a healthy, and robust Spring season ahead.

1) In February, continue protecting plants from frost and freeze damage. While the threat of frost and freezing temperatures vary on average the last freeze day in Jacksonville is February 15 and January 23 in coastal Jacksonville Beach. However, on January 30 Jacksonville Beach reached a low temperature of 31 while at Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) they recorded a low of 22F with the lowest temperature ever recorded on that date being 20F back in 1966. Where you live has a significant bearing on the risk of frost and freezing temperatures. JIA recorded six below-freezing temperature days in January, whereas there was just one on the 30th at Craig Airport. Even with a warmer than usual Winter resulting from La Nina January was unpredictably cold. The News4Jax Insider reports that forecast models suggest that, “starting Feb. 23, the Eastern U.S. should begin to warm and warm considerably, pointing to an early start to spring.” With the damage already done, there will be many people shopping to replace plants in the coming months. Don’t be blindsided by another frost or freeze!

2) Rake, mulch, or compost leaves, but don’t leave them unattended on your lawn turf. While many deciduous trees drop leaves in Autumn and Winter, the evergreen Live oak typically sheds its leaves over several weeks between February and March and then immediately flushes out a crop of new leaves. After shedding their leaves, oaks follow up by dropping male flowers (catkins), which are loaded with pollen and have the texture of steel wool that can easily clog pond and pool filters. When unattended leaf litter and catkins can smother your lawn turf. While proponents of native landscapes aren’t concerned with grass in the landscape some community HOAs, for instance, require lawns to be well maintained and millions of families enjoy a beautiful well-kept lawn. While we provide lawn care services we appreciate landscaping with Florida native plants that are adapted to area climate and soil conditions and have landscape designers ready to work with you in developing whatever your preference of lawn and garden.

3) Keep weeds on your lawn under control by hand pulling or use of a pre-emergent herbicide before average temperatures reach 65-70F. As temperatures warm heading into Spring, the threat from the Winter weeds is replaced by the emergence of warm-season weeds. In our temperate climate, there is some crossover in the seasonal varieties of lawn weeds.
-Florida perennial weeds include buttonweed, clover, dallisgrass, dandelion, nutsedge, and dollarweed.
-Florida annual weeds include chickweed, crabgrass, beggarweed, pulsey, goosegrass, and spurge.
Earth Works Lawn Care division eliminates these concerns with weed spraying and fertilization services.

Weed And Feed products typically include pre-emergents. UF recommends March 1 for the earliest Weed and Feed applications in North Florida. “You will not injure your lawn by waiting to fertilize but you can certainly injure your lawn by fertilizing too early,” writes Larry Williams, the Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County. Difficulties in avoiding too late applications of pre-emergent herbicides and too early fertilization give some credence to using herbicides and fertilizers separately. Read more about When Should I Apply Weed And Feed.

Get your instant quote at the website.

4) Do not forget to water your lawn throughout February when receiving less than two rain events per week. Consistent with La Nina weather forecasts, Jacksonville’s rainfall for January was below average, receiving only one inch of precipitation compared to the annual January average of three inches. We are under once per week irrigation restrictions in Duval County until the second Sunday in March, according to Chapter 366 of the City’s Ordinance Code. However, there are exceptions for new landscaping and there are no restrictions on hand watering.

5) Throughout the Winter months, including February, it’s recommended to plant cold-hardy annuals such as alyssum, delphinium, dusty millers, ornamental kale, and cabbage, along with violas that hold up to our coldest temperatures. “Trees and shrubs that will be in bloom include red maple, star magnolia, and spirea,” according to the University of Florida. “Despite the cooler weather, some gardeners can begin to plant warm-season crops, while others should stick to plants that can survive the cold.” Areas around the St. Johns River, its tributaries, and the beaches stay significantly warmer than other inland areas.

Delphinium Magic Fountain

6) Regularly inspect houseplants and those brought indoors during the winter. Be watchful for pests such as Spider mites that form webs along leaf margins. Spider mites and various other pests can be effectively treated with Neem oil. Rotate plants to provide them 360-degree access to inspect and for them to get the best use of available light sources.

Spider mites and their web on Alocasia

Don’t neglect plants brought indoors that might be bunched together, not allowing adequate light and inspection access. Watch for signs of too much or too little water and sunlight. Some plants such as the Heart-shaped, Hoya kerrii will turn yellow from too much light or too little water. Succulents can begin turning purple from various causes, including sudden light and temperature changes, too much light or the wrong wavelength provided by certain grow lights. If having an issue with your indoor plants, take photos and bring them in to speak with an associate at the Earth Works garden center.

Inspect houseplants: This Hoya kerrii turned yellow from too much light or too little water.

We hope the February lawn and garden tips benefit your efforts and for comprehensive solutions to all your specific lawn, garden, and landscaping needs, contact us at 904-996-0712. 

Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. 

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

Organic Top Dressing Lawns Benefits

Organic top dressing lawns, although labor-intensive, provides your beautiful lawn vital ecological benefits. Top dressing lawns, simply put, is spreading a thin 1/4”-1/2” layer of organic material on the lawn. Our service aerates the soil before top dressing to reduce compaction, which allows better oxygen, water, and nutrient absorption. In a few months, the benefits become obvious.

The earliest lawns of 17th century England were owned by only a handful of nobles and the wealthy who could afford a well-kept patch of grass. Lawn ownership increased dramatically after industrialization and the invention of the lawn mower. Now you’d better have a well-maintained lawn if your community has a Home Owners Association (HOA). Organic top dressing helps keep your well-kept patch of grass healthy and beautiful while reducing the need for fertilization, pesticides, and watering.

credit Looking Good Lawns

Benefits of top dressing lawns include:
-Reduces compaction & thatch buildup.
-Reduces stress from foot traffic.
-Improves water retention.
-Replenishes organic nutrients.
-Fortifies with micronutrients.
-Reduces fertilization and irrigation needs.

“A recent field study conducted in a local development showed an average increase of soil organic matter of nearly 60% with compost topdressing,” according to the University of Florida. “Do your own “citizen science” and see if you are able to enjoy a beautiful lawn with fewer inputs this year. It’s time to top-dress your turf!“

Earth Works Lawn Care provides aeration and top dressing service within our Northeast Florida service area. We encourage homeowners to either do-it-yourself every few years or contact Earth Works Lawn Care to schedule this important service. Schedule a Lawn Care Account Manager visit to your home for a quote. And see our other lawn services and get a free quote by calling 904-996-0712.

Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. Visit us or for specific lawn, garden, and landscaping needs, contact us at 904-996-0712.

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

Share Your Story!

Skip to content