Florida drought punishing lawns and landscape

How to help your landscaping survive the drought
Posted at 11:33 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 02:23:21-04

You still have time to protect your plants, trees, and shrubbery around your home despite Florida's drought conditions.

“In some drought situations, as long as it doesn’t get too severe, a lot of our plants will take care of themselves. (There are) just a handful of things we can do to help them get through,” Dr. Whitney Elmore said.
Elmore is the County Extension Director for Pasco County. She said people need to plan ahead for the different seasons.

The dry season is from mid-October to mid-May or even into June. Dr. Elmore said homeowners should use rain barrels on top of irrigating their lawn.

“Planting the right plant in the right place so that it’s happy and it’s healthy (is important). It’s going to require less watering input over time,” she said.

Dr. Elmore said people should not fertilize right now. They need to use natural mulch. They should hold off on pruning. Even if your grass looks dead that could mean it’s dormant and will recover after the drought.

She said people need to remember to keep their grass at least 4 inches high when they mow. People should also hold off on planting anything right now. Do not over water your plants and remember sometimes it is better to sit back.

“Until we’re getting that very consistent summertime rainfall that we’re used to in central Florida, I’d suggest against trying to plant anything in a drought,” Dr. Elmore said.

There are many other tips people can follow to help their plants, trees, and shrubbery survive the dry season. Every yard is different.

You can call your local county extension office with more specific questions. They are there to help and they can also refer you to a certified arborist, if you need an inspection.

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Contact information for local University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extensions: