WYNTK: Mulching- When, Where, Why, How & How Much?
While there’s no question that mulching isn’t rocket science, most people are surprised to learn there’s a bit more to it than they may realize. That’s why we’re answering all of the questions you may have about mulch including how and when it should be done. After all, any time that you are investing in a professional service, you want to get the most out of it with best practices being utilized.
When Should Mulching be Performed?
To answer this question, you should know that it’s not as much that there’s a wrong time to mulch—it’s more that you get the most benefits if you consider timing. In Florida, fall is the best time to mulch in order to get the maximum benefit.
Fall into winter—is the time of year that plants need protection from water loss due to evaporation. Fall is also the time of year when a lot of our Florida properties want colorful seasonal installations completed. The mulch will not only protect these plants’ fragile roots and help limit evaporation, but it will also serve as an aesthetic complement to the landscape. The flowers’ bright colors will really pop against the dark mulch.
Where and Why is Mulching Done?
Mulch can be added to plant beds or tree rings for both the aesthetic appeal as well as the practical benefits. Although most people think of mulch mostly in terms of the look, there really are important functional reasons to consider mulching. We already mentioned that installing a layer of mulch can prevent evaporation. Mulch helps to retain moisture beneath the surface so that it can be used by your plants’ roots.
Mulch can also assist in weed suppression. Because new weed seeds require soil to grow, mulch provides a barrier that prevents them from reaching that soil level. As far as weed seeds that are already in your plant beds, mulch will help block access to sunlight.
Mulch breaks down over time and naturally adds beneficial nutrients into our sandy soils. Breakdown of mulch adds organic matter to the soil allowing for better nutrient uptake for healthier plants. Keeping your plants material producing vigorous growth.
Finally, mulch can also act as an insulator. It can help the soil to maintain a steady temperature, protecting plants from extremes.
How is Mulching Performed?
How mulching is done is also important. Mulching certainly isn’t tremendously complex, but you might be surprised to learn there are some mulching errors that can not only limit the benefits—but potentially cause problems. One of the most common mulching mistakes is over mulching. We’ve written more about the bad habit of over mulching here, but to sum it up, excessive mulch can become waterlogged, it won’t break down, and it can actually start to harm your plants rather than help them.
Of course, over mulching is not the only potential error. It’s also possible to under mulch. Failing to apply a thick enough layer will not give you all of the benefits that we’ve discussed such as adequate insulation and successful weed suppression.
Another common mulching mistake is to use a subpar mulch product. The truth is, all mulches are not created equal. You want a high-quality mulch that’s going to hold up to our extreme weather conditions and be able to provide you with ample benefits.
How Much Mulch Should be Applied?
As we’ve mentioned, there is such a thing as too much mulch—as well as too little mulch. So, what’s the right amount? The exact answer will depend on your specific plant beds and site conditions but on average, most beds need somewhere between 2 to 3 inches of mulch per year to get all of the benefits.
Are There Alternatives to Mulch?
We do sometimes get asked about mulch alternatives. If you’re looking for a totally low maintenance option, the landscaping stone can be used in your plant beds. However, stone can make it really difficult for a lot of plant types to grow and thrive. That’s because instead of acting as a natural insulator (as mulch does), stone can really heat up and make the soil temperatures even hotter.
Stone also fails to provide the nutrient benefits that mulch can provide as it breaks down. It may be a maintenance-free option that doesn’t require replacing, but it’s not going to provide any benefit to the health of your plant beds.
Choosing a Company to Set you Up for Success
As you can see, there’s a bit more to mulching than you may have realized. That’s why it’s important to choose a company that can offer you peace of mind that mulching will be performed properly. After all, if you’re investing in professional mulching, you deserve to reap all of the benefits.
In the end, you want your mulched areas to look great and function optimally. At Estate Landscaping, we can help set you up for success.
STOP: Signs of Over Mulching Your Property
When it comes to mulching, the expression “too much of a good thing” applies. While mulch can be incredibly beneficial for your plant beds, if you apply too much, it can have harmful repercussions.
We find that a lot of people are surprised to learn that over mulching is even possible. That’s why we’ve rounded up some advice that will help guide you toward making better mulching decisions.
Excessive Mulch Becomes Waterlogged
One of the big benefits of mulching your plant beds and tree or shrub areas is that it will help your plants’ roots to retain moisture. This is because the mulch acts as a beneficial barrier from the drying effects of the wind and sun.
However, when you apply an excessive amount of mulch, it is more likely to absorb the water and become waterlogged. When this occurs, it reduces the amount of water that makes it to your plants’ roots. On top of that, when the mulch becomes heavy with moisture, trees and shrubs tend to develop new roots to try and pull in some of that moisture. But with these roots closer to the surface than they ought to be, they can begin to circle trunks and choke the plant.
Too Much Mulch Won’t Breakdown
Another benefit of mulch is the fact that it decomposes over time and naturally adds nutrients to your plants in the process. If you’re adding just the right amount of mulch to your plant bed (a number that can vary based on site conditions but is usually around 2 to 3 inches), then the mulch should naturally decompose with no problem.
The idea is to replace plant beds with a new layer of fresh mulch each year and allow the breakdown process to begin all over again.
However, if you’re over mulching your beds each time you get new mulch, that’s going to impact the decomposition process. Mulch can begin to pile up instead of breaking down. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see over-mulched properties have an accumulation of a foot of mulch over time because more and more keeps getting added.
If you have plant beds that have been over mulched and are not naturally breaking down, mulch removal might be necessary before receiving that fresh layer and starting anew.
Over Mulching can Harm Plants
A lot of people are also surprised to learn that over mulching can damage or even kill plants. One way that this can occur is when mulch suffocates the roots because it prevents circulation between the air and the soil. Your plants do need oxygen to thrive. But a thick layer of mulch can also harm plants by generating too much heat. Whereas the appropriate amount of mulch can actually help to insulate plants and regular soil temperature fluctuations, too much mulch ends up trapping heat in the soil.
Of course, the waterlogging that we mentioned earlier can also harm plants—not only because it prevents water from making it to the plant roots, but also because it creates conditions where disease may take over.
Another way that you sometimes see mulch harm plants is when “mulch volcanoes” are formed in mulched tree rings. This is when mulch is piled up against the tree itself and then tapered down. Mulch volcanoes are such a common problem that you might actually think they’re the correct way to mulch a tree. In reality, mulching around a tree should look like a donut. When you pile mulch up against a tree it can cause bark rot due to trapped moisture. It can also lead to insect infestations.
Choosing Mulching Services to Prevent Over Mulching
While mulching is not rocket science, you can see how this beneficial practice can easily go awry when mistakes are made. Unfortunately, even some pros make these over mulching errors and cause potential problems on your landscape.
That’s why it’s important to choose a company that can offer you peace of mind that mulching will be performed properly. After all, if you’re investing in professional mulching, you deserve to reap all of the benefits.
Handling Plant Disease in Fort Myer’s Warm Weather
The hot and humid weather in Fort Myers, Florida can unfortunately create incubator-like growing conditions for fungal plant infections. Of course, the last thing that you want is to see your property’s beloved plants succumb to a disease.
Let’s look at some of the most common plant diseases that we see in our region and talk about how to protect or treat your plants.
- Root Rot
Root Rot is one of those conditions that doesn’t tend to show up until it’s too late. That’s because it’s occurring beneath the soil, where the problem goes undetected. Once plants start showing symptoms, it is sometimes too late. Signs may include yellowing foliage or stunted growth.
Since it is often impossible to save the plant, swift removal, including the roots is often the best course of action. If replanting in the area, it’s important to choose a plant that is resistant to this fungus as it can continue to live in the soil.
- Leaf Spot
Leaf spot disease weaken turf by interrupting their photosynthesis processes which can ultimately lead to leaf loss if not treated. Oftentimes, this disease may remain cosmetic. Fortunately, most leaf spot diseases affect only a small percentage of the shrub or tree’s overall leaf area and are therefore only a minor stress on the turf's overall health. However, these diseases should be taken seriously to prevent leaf loss. Leaf loss during several consecutive growing seasons can result in reduced growth and increased susceptibility to pests and other diseases.
- Powdery Mildew
This disease gets its name from the powdery white substance that appears on an infected plant’s leaf surface. It is the result of millions of fungal spores. This is a serious fungal disease that attacks a wide variety of plant types. Crape Myrtles are especially susceptible. Powdery Mildew can lead to a decrease in vigor, leaf yellowing and browning, distortion, and ultimately leaf drop. It can be treated with a fungicide but must be specifically labeled for the type of mildew you’re dealing with. There is also Downy Mildew (which we’ll discuss next), and it requires a different treatment.
- Downy Mildew
The symptoms of Downy Mildew are similar to those that often present for a nutritional deficiency or another disease, making it sometimes difficult to diagnosis. Downy Mildew causes leaves to become yellow or speckled—and sometimes edges can curl downwards. A faint, gray fuzz may grow on the underside of leaves. This fungal infection is most likely to infect young plants and can be treated with a fungicide specifically labeled for it.
- Wilt Disease
Wilt symptoms can appear in a large number of broadleaf plants by several species of the Fusarium and Verticillium fungi. While the fungi do differ from one another, the symptoms they cause are quite similar. Plants will first have a wilted appearance—wit individual branches or even leaves being infected first. Foliage may turn yellow and will eventually die and drop. Since the symptoms are so similar amongst both fungi, the only reliable method for a proper diagnosis is a laboratory culture.
- Sooty Mold
Though not a disease, we also wanted to talk about sooty mold, as it’s also quite common in our region. Sooty mold is the result of sap-sucking pests like aphids and scales leaving behind an excreted substance called honeydew. Sooty mold grows on honeydew. Although this black mold will not kill plants, it’s unsightly. Plus, it indicates the presence of pests, which can begin to damage or kill plants over time. Horticultural oil can help rid the plant of an infestation.
Partnering with a Pro to Protect your Plants
Of course, these 6 are only some of the potential problems your plants can face. Oftentimes, the most difficult aspect of plant care is making the proper diagnosis in order to determine the best course of action. Since it’s not uncommon for many diseases to mimic one another—or even for other plant problems to look like a disease—it’s helpful to partner with a professional who can guide you.
Not only will a pro help to make the correct diagnosis, but they’ll also know the best treatment and how to take care of your plants going forward. As we mentioned, some diseases are difficult to get rid of. It may not be cost-effective or even possible to save plants that have been infected. Therefore, a professional can also advise when it’s in your best interest to replace dying plants with disease-resistant options.
Weather-related Issues with your Lawn | Estate Landscaping
Florida is a beautiful place to live. It offers bright sun-filled days, warm temperatures, and almost tropical weather conditions. The sand and the sun attract a lot of people. For the most part, Florida is a great place for lawns and vegetation that people love to plant around their homes. The only real draw-back for lawns in Florida is the problems that the -weather can create for your lawns and gardens.
Cold weather issues
Florida is a warm and bright state. That does not mean that the area never experiences cold temperatures that can be damaging to the vegetation you love.
Freezing temperatures do reach the sunshine state and when they do those temperatures can wreak havoc on the palms, citrus trees, and grass in the area. You have to prepare your lawn and gardens in advance of a freeze so that when the freeze is over your plants will still be hardy and viable.
From the first of June until the first of November the residents of Florida are on the look-out for tropical storms and hurricanes. These storms are one of the drawbacks of living in paradise.
Most people think about the devastation that a hurricane or tropical storm can bring to tall plant life and trees. The high winds that accompany these storms can knock trees down and even uproot them.
These storms also bring huge storm surges that bring the seawater farther onto the land. Lawns and gardens are not fond of seawater and often get very sick after prolonged exposure.
The storms bring a deluge of rain that can cause flooding across the state. Your grass likes water but it does not like to be covered in water for six hours or more. This influx of water causes lawn diseases, root rot, and bug conditions to escalate.
On the reverse side of hurricanes and deluges of rain are the periods of time when your lawn gets no water from rain or natural sources. You are left trying to water your grass with a hose and sprinkler system. This would not be so bad if you were not also trying to conserve water for other uses like cooking, drinking, and cleaning in your home.
Drought conditions can starve the vegetation of the moisture it needs. It can allow diseases to move in and parasitic bugs that will feast on your lawn and leave you with brown patches or worse.
Another weather issue that can destroy your lawn are fires that get started during drought conditions. These fires can quickly burn across many acres of property killing and damaging everything in their path.
Protection and Prevention
The only thing that you can do about weather-related issues is to prepare for them and respond to them as quickly as possible.
To fully understand the weather-related issues your lawn may face in your area call the experts at Estate Landscaping at (239) 498-1187. They can come to your property and assess your lawn type and help you understand what problems the weather in your area can present to the vegetation on your lawn.
How to set your Irrigation Clocks in the summer
Your irrigation system has a timed controller that controls when the water is dispersed and the amount of water that is supplied to different areas around your property. The controller for these systems has the ultimate control over the hydration of your plants.
You must also remember that you control the controller. You have the ultimate and final say concerning how much water is dispersed, when the water is dispersed, and the length of time it takes for that water to be provided to any area of your lawn.
In order to conserve water and still provide your plants with the hydration they require, you need to set your irrigation clocks properly. These clocks tell the unit when to start watering and when to stop watering.
Useful Terms for you to know
There are only three basic terms that you need to understand in order to set your irrigation clocks. They are:
- Station is a reference to which water valve is being controlled
- Valve is the device that opens to release water and closes to stop water from coming out
- Zone is the place in your yard that a particular valve controls
- Runtime refers to the length of time the valve will be open in each zone
- Start time refers to the exact time the valve will be opened
Before you can set your clocks you must prepare yourself with the following information.
- The correct time of day
- The chosen days you want the system to water on (you have to know your plants and what their hydration requirements are in order to make the right selection here)
- What time of day you want the system to start the water (you need to know the areas of your yard and when the sun will be beating down on the plants each day)
- What time of day you want the system to stop watering (you need to calculate how much water each plant needs and how long your system will have to be supplying water at a specific flow rate in order to meet the hydration requirements)
Setting the Timers
The timer on your irrigation system has several programs for you to choose from. Each program on the controlled system will operate different stations or water valves. You set your timer programs according to the amount of water each section of your yard needs.
Grass usually needs to be watered two to three times each week during the summer months.
Some of your shrubberies needs to be watered once in a period of 7 to 14 days. Some desert-adapted trees and shrubs do not need water any more often than once every two to three weeks.
To make sure that you have your irrigation clocks set properly you can call the experts at Estate Landscaping at (239) 498-1187. They can give you advice and walk you through the procedure you need to follow, or come out to your home and help you set the clocks properly.