July Lawn And Garden Tips For Northeast Florida

What was the weather like in June, and what can we expect in July?
On July 2, Elsa became the first hurricane of 2021 to threaten Florida with tropical storm wind and rain causing us to lead the July lawn and garden tips with an emphasis on the importance of hurricane preparedness. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts 6-10 hurricanes in the 2021 season that started June 1 and ends on November 30. Florida receives the majority of these weather event impacts between mid-August and late October, according to NOAA, although it is currently past time to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Check your hurricane supplies, including provisions for your lawn and garden. Stake newly planted trees to prevent them from falling and causing personal injury or property damage—pruning of older trees and damaged ones before a storm can be a lifesaver. Cleaning leaves and debris from your roof gutters and assessing your drainage systems’ working order and effectiveness should be done to prevent flooding. Earth Works Landscaping Department can fix whatever drainage issues you have and do so in creative ways that provide beauty to the landscape and meet local codes designed to protect your property and the environment. Our “Hurricane Season Landscape Preparation” blog has more detailed, helpful tips focused on your landscape during tropical storms and hurricanes.

Rainfall for June in the Jacksonville area was heaviest on the Northside as reported by the National Weather Service (NWS) station at Jacksonville International Airport (JIA). June 24 alone saw nearly 3 inches of rainfall at JIA, contributing to 8.7 inches total, up one inch from the June average. By comparison, Craig Field in Jacksonville’s Southside saw a .63 inch deficiency from its June average for a monthly total of 5.65 inches. Jacksonville is expected to see about a half-inch increase in rain July over June totals and an additional inch in August and September based on monthly averages. With 20 rain days in June, the associated cloud cover kept high temperatures capped at 95F with a 55F degree low on June 1, the lowest recorded in June since 1984. Look for more of the same in July.

Northeast Florida is a large area, and rainfall totals per area can vary greatly. July lawn and garden tips recommend installing a rain gauge in your yard as an inexpensive tool that accurately measures the amount of rainfall your landscape receives. Consider using a smart sprinkler controller such as the Rachio 3 and Orbit B-hyve XR, which can automatically adjust watering schedules based on weather station data and hyper-local conditions.

What Can We Plant in July?
July lawn and garden tips encourage use of heat-loving cacti and succulents in your garden. Matt Barlow, Earth Works Garden Center Manager, showcases in a recent Earth Works youtube video these easy care plants for Summer planting in Northeast, Florida.
Flapjack Succulent, Kalanchoe luciae has an interesting texture and color. They will get several feet tall and flower while adding architectural interest to your cacti and succulent garden.
Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii, and Euphorbia Milii Var. splendens are two varieties we offer. These are a rugged option that can bloom non-stop year-round. There are very few plants I can say that about. Get them in plenty of sun, and they will bloom repeatedly.
Yucca Cane, Yucca guatemalensis, these guys can take a range of sun conditions outdoors or as a houseplant.
Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, is not a palm, but succulent that needs little to no care.
Queen of the Night, Cereus peruvianus are show-stopping night bloomers that bring a lot of interest to the garden and are very easy to grow.
Hedgehog aloe, Echinocereus engelmannii is one of many aloe varieties we carry. They put up a flower spike covered with coral-covered tubular flowers that attract pollinators, hummingbirds, and even small birds will perch on the stems and drink the nectar.
Desert Rose, Adenium obesum I have a special place in my heart for. I have one that’s been in my collection for almost 20 years. They are slow growers requiring protection from frost in the Winter and provide plenty of sunshine in Summer while protecting from overwatering.
Twin-Flowered Agave, Agave geminiflora looks completely different than the other agaves that people are accustomed to seeing. They have spaghetti-strapped leaves with a slow to moderate growth rate and easy to grow without much care.
Pencil Cactus, Euphorbia tirucalli, Pencil-like tubular leafless stems with a texture that’s different from everything else you’ll have in the garden. Protect from frost and freezing, though, as they are not cold hardy.
-Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia, are paddled cacti with varieties native to Florida. They flower and produce edible fruit. They make an excellent garden focal point.

Additionally, the heat of our Summer is a good time to consider adding tropical plants such as hibiscus, Ixora, Bird of Paradise, and Mandevilla. Those tropicals will be featured each week of July as Plant of the Week wherein we offer a 10% discount on those purchases.

What lawn care concerns are there for Northeast Florida in July?
During the Summer months, be aware of any county Fertilizer Blackout prohibitions and restrictions on use of nitrogen and phosphorus on your lawn. Duval & St. Johns counties have restrictions on fertilizer use to protect against algae blooms and mass fish kills. The City of Jacksonville recommends that “Fertilizers shall be applied to Turf and/or Landscape Plants at the lowest rate necessary. Nitrogen shall not be applied at an application rate greater than 0.7 lbs of readily available nitrogen per 1000 ft 2 at any one time based on the soluble fraction of formulated fertilizer, with no more than 1 lb total N per 1000 ft 2 to be applied at any one time and not to exceed the annual nitrogen recommendations below:

Bahia grass, 2—3 lbs. N/1000 ft 2 /year.
Bermuda grass, 3—5 lbs. N/1000 ft 2 /year.
Centipede grass, 1—2 lbs. N/1000 ft 2 /year.
St. Augustine grass, 2—4 lbs. N/1000 ft 2 /year.
Zoysia grass, 3—5 lbs. N/1000 ft 2 /year.”
To learn more about fertilization regulations in Duval County see City of Jacksonville Chapter 366 Ordinance Code Section 366.600. St. Johns County fertilizer regulations can be viewed under Fertilizer Guidelines & Restrictions.

Suppose you fertilized your lawn in Spring and it appears to still be suffering. In that case, we recommend aeration and top dressing as cultural practices that alleviate compaction and replenish soil fertility that can better provide for the beautiful lawn you expect. Chad Lakin, Earth Works Lawn Care Operations Manager can have your property measured to exclude flower beds, patios, impervious areas not to be treated and provide a quote upon request.

What Pests are we seeing in June and July?
Where there is stagnant water there are mosquitos. So be sure to empty any standing water to ward off the mosquitos during rainy season. Southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis were well established in untreated lawns of Northeast Florida due to drought conditions in May, a month when most of Jacksonville received only about a half-inch of rain. However, chinch bugs persist during wet months, as do other pests and some experts fear pests adaptations and increased prevalence due to the Florida climate. “Chinch bugs are known to be more of a residential lawn pest, but the past couple years, we’ve seen more incidences of chinch bugs damaging golf course turf,” says Adam Dale, Ph.D., assistant professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida. “Drought and full sun conditions promote chinch bug abundance and damage, and proper irrigation and maintaining proper soil moisture and turf health are the best practices to keep the bugs at bay. Fertilization is also a factor to consider. “Research has shown that nitrogen fertilization rates are positively correlated to chinch bug abundance — so I would tell superintendents to be mindful of how much nitrogen they’re putting out,” Dale says.” That’s all the more reason to limit lawn fertilization in summer.

Sod webworms are likewise being seen around Northeast Florida at this time. Bifenthrin is a pyrethroid insecticide that’s available and widely recommended for controlling sod webworms and fire ants. Bifenthrin applications target sod webworm larvae, which cause damage as they feed on the grass blades. “The moths are not the issue, and there is no practical way to control them,” according to Dan Gill, The Times-Picayune garden columnist. “It’s the sod webworm caterpillars that damage lawns. Any insecticide treatments to the lawn are meant to deal with them — not to control the adult moths. They’re a nuisance at best.”

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is a biological control for the caterpillar stage of sod webworms and other pest caterpillars such as Datana major, Azalea moths that were seen on area azaleas the first week of July. Mealybugs and aphids are defoliating plants protected by ants that farm them in our gardens. Insecticidal soaps, neem oil, and systemic insecticides can be used effectively against them. For more detailed treatment protocols see our Preventing Mealybug Infestation blog, call or visit the garden center and bring photos of the affected area and/or pests. July lawn and garden tips encourage regular inspection of your plants between rain events checking for these pests that can quickly destroy your plants and all your hard work.

Datana major, Azalea moth caterpillars

For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden and landscaping need contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online and at 904-996-0712.

Proudly serving 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.

Happy Gardening!