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Orange County, Seminole County, Volusia County, Osceola County.
May is a great time of year to help turf and shrubs grow and look great. Temperatures are warmer and top growth is generated much faster now. If not already done, a Weed ‘n Feed fertilizer formulation for St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns will get the lawn in top shape quickly, filling in thin and weak areas and becoming much thicker. DO NOT use Weed n Feed formulations on Bahia grass. Atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide component in Weed ‘n Feed fertilizer and it will annihilate Bahia.
Shrubs are pushing new growth at top production. Old growth should have been pruned back in March and April. If not already done, prune shrubs to re-establish a tight canopy structure and keep them from becoming “leggy” and sparce. Prune back top foliage to allow sunlight to filter down and fill in leaves at bottom of shrub canopy. Apply a shrub fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or milorganite.
Drought is showing on many lawns as the temperature gets warmer and rain is scarce. You may notice wilted turfgrass areas becoming more pronounced as days pass even though your sprinkler system is working perfectly, presumably. "I'm watering twice a week, so why is this happening?" Our service area receives the least amount of water during the month of April, typically. Average rainfall is less than half inch per week. The first half of May is no different. Luckily, this year has been a fairly wet Spring in comparison to previous years passed. The rain will help all plants fill in fast, including weeds. Hopefully, the “Weed ‘n Feed” fertilizer applied last month has kept the weeds away.
As we progress into May with temperatures ramping up to over 90 degrees with regularity, grass water needs are almost 2 inches of precipitation per week, so the water deficit has to be covered by supplemental irrigation, i.e., the sprinkler system. If there are any gaps in the irrigation system, the “gaps” will clearly show by now on the lawn, much to the discomfort of the homeowner, since the lawn will require more work to get it into “recovery mode”. As we creep further into June, the Summer afternoon rains will fire up, become more frequent, and natural rainwater will be in abundance. Until then, homeowners need to address irrigation system deficiencies and do whatever is required to prevent permanent injury to turfgrass and ornamentals.
How to determine proper soil moisture
Insect populations are on the rise again and will tarnish your lawn if not kept at bay. Chinch bugs, mole crickets, grubs (to name a few) are in full stride now. Sod webworms and Armyworms are beginning to "mow" grass once again, as well. Turf needs to be treated to prevent damaging insect populations from establishing and putting blemishes on the texture and uniformity of the lawn.
Chinch bugs are very active in May. These areas look like drought, however with a slight yellow tinge around the periphery. The yellowish transition area is where you will find the bugs. The adults are slightly larger than a grain of rice. Unfortunately, there are few remedies that can be purchased at hardware stores to get effective control and the best recourse is to call a pest control company to control the infestation. Doing nothing is not an option since the chinch bugs will continue to feed on the grass until there is no healthy turfgrass left. Resodding is very expensive.
Mole crickets are more active in May. Homeowners may be concerned seeing the mole crickets flying at night around street lights or into pools. The mole crickets that have emerged are mating and laying eggs. Mole crickets die after laying their eggs that hatch in late May, June, and July. If you suspect mole cricket activity in your lawn put a few ounces of dishwashing soap in a 5 gallon bucket and pour it over the area, saturating the soil. The mole crickets will emerge within 2 minutes to breathe as the soap clogs the spiracles that allow the mole crickets to breathe.
Sod webworms will begin to cause damage to turfgrass in May, especially if rains become frequent, even more so in shaded turfgrass areas. Sod webworm adults are small dingy-brown moths with a wingspan of ¾ inches. The moths do not cause damage to the grass or shrubs; it is the larva stage (caterpillar) which does the chewing. The caterpillars feed at night and rest during the day. Sod webworm damage can be identified by the chewing done by the small caterpillars. The grass blades will appear notched on the sides. Large areas may appear as being “mowed down”. Part the grass and look for the small, bright-green fecal pellets. The small green caterpillars will be found in the thatch and on the surface of the soil, resting in a curled position. Since sod webworms just feed on the grass blades, damaged areas usually grow back quickly after control has been achieved. Any store bough insecticide will control sod webworms typically.
Weeds that generally wither and die with cold weather made it through this last Winter with little or no adverse effect from the cold. No freezing events ocurred and uncontrollable weeds suck as wild bermudagrass, torpedograss, and basketgrass are thriving and re-claiming real estate back from desired turf areas. Some of these weeds cannot be selectively removed without injury to the good turf, but some can be controlled before they overwhelm the good areas of turfgrass. The key is to have a thick and vigorously growing turf so that there is no room for weeds to emerge and displace the good turf.
Crabgrass and Alexandergrass (Creeping Signalgrass) were not eradicated by cold temperatures this past winter and will re-establish quickly. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of companies that will treat for this weed in turfgrass areas. Baking soda lightly applied will suppress crabgrass for a while, allowing time for the desired turf to regain density lost. Total Home & Lawn Defense will treat your crabgrass and Alexandergrass.
Magnolias drop their leaves in May. They will not look good until beginning of June.
Aphids and Chili Thrips become a problem on new growth of many plants. Look for curled and distorted new growth. Aphids can be found on the underside of the affected leaves. Scale on shrubs will also become more prevalent in the warmer months.
Be sure to check your irrigation controller so the frequency corresponds with the Summertime watering cycle. Your system should be watering twice per week this time of year and applying the necessary 3/4" to 1" of water per application. Every zone should have different times to achieve the needed 3/4" of water. Generally, sprays will put out water at greater volume than rotors and do not require as much time as rotors. Some rotor zones may require 90 minutes or more to reach 3/4", whereas a spray zone will put out the same amount of water in less than 20 minutes.
If rain is scarce, you may see drought areas developing on your lawn. These are areas where your irrigation pattern doesn't apply the necessary water amount to keep the grass from wilting. You will need to water these areas by hand until rain re-hydrates the soil at these areas or you make adjustments to your irrigation zone to cover the area(s) more uniformly.
Irrigation systems can NEVER achieve 100% efficiency in water uniformity. The best you can hope for is about 80%, and most standard systems max out at about 70% efficiency, but you can certainly make changes to minimize the drought spots. Total Home & Lawn Defense can help adjust, reposition, or add irrigation heads to provide more uniform coverage. We will perform an initial free inspection to review your entire irrigation system and identify any "gaps" in coverage. Let us know if we can help you.
We will perform a free inspection of your entire irrigation system to determine what needs to be done to achieve better water coverage from your system. Click on the button to schedule your free inspection.
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