We want to show off our lush lawns and healthy home gardens, but that’s not always easy in the Sunshine State, especially during summer’s scorchingly hot days.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to win the battle. Here are seven expert tips for getting – and keeping – your yard healthy and happy, even in the heat of Florida summer.
Add Mulch to Planting Beds
Mulch helps keep soil moist and reduces weeds. To prevent rot, avoid piling mulch against plant stems and tree trunks. Not sure how much mulch you need? Click here for a comprehensive chart.
Water at the Right Time
Avoid watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to prevent water loss from evaporation caused by peak sunlight. Instead, quench your flora’s thirst either early in the morning or late evening.
“Tuna” Up Your Sprinklers
Make sure your sprinklers are watering your grass and plants, not sidewalks and driveways, by strategically placing empty tuna cans or measuring cups around your yard – all within range of the sprinklers. Also, clean the tuna cans thoroughly or risk a visit from hungry neighborhood cats.
Once the cans/cups are in position, run the sprinkler for 30 minutes, and then measure the amount of water in each can or cup. Ideally, the water will be evenly distributed among all the cans. Aim for three-quarters of an inch of water, and adjust your watering times if necessary.
Switch to a Drip Irrigation System
Through low-pressure, low-volume water distribution, drip irrigation systems keep roots moist without drowning them, keeping your plants healthy and reducing overall water usage. Drip irrigation hoses can be placed on the ground or be slightly buried to allow water to seep down to a plant's roots for optimal growth.
Keep your yard looking healthy and green without wasting water by setting your irrigation system’s timer with a watering schedule that suits your area, taking into consideration how much rainfall you usually get and local watering restrictions. For example, the University of Florida suggests a watering schedule for central Florida residents of two days a week (such as Monday and Thursday).
Check with your local Water Management District office or Cooperative Extension Service for more information on how often you should water your lawn.
Get the Most Out of Afternoon Rain Showers
Florida is known for its almost daily summer afternoon showers. Take advantage of this natural source of water by adding extenders to gutter downspouts or using rain barrels. Aim the extenders toward your property's highest elevation so rain water can flow down through landscaped areas. If you go the rain barrel route, cover the barrels when rain isn’t falling to prevent mosquitos and frogs from breeding in your backyard.
Let Your Grass Grow
Higher grass develops a more extensive root system, making your lawn more drought-resistant. If grass is mowed too short, it expends most of its energy toward growing new leaf blades, making it more prone to drought and weed invasion.