Winter brings relief from lawn mowing and opens time for other landscaping tasks. Now leaves must be raked, beds cleaned out and mulch refreshed. It’s also a good time of year to plant rye grass and examine trees for mistletoe.
Florida winter brings perfect weather for working outside, especially for gardeners in the central and southern parts of the state. If you’re in north Florida, your days are cooler, but you can still get out and work in your yard during warm afternoons.
Since this is the dormant season for turf grass, homeowners finally get a break from the inexorable task of lawn mowing that consumes so much time from May to October. During winter, focus can be turned to other landscaping tasks.
Clean Up Leaves
While many oaks don’t drop their leaves until late winter, nevertheless trees like sycamores are now carpeting lawns and beds with dead leaves. Get out the rake, the blower, or the lawn mower fitted with a mulching blade to deal with the carpet.
Rake, blow, or mulch fallen leaves regularly and stay on top of the task. If you put it off, you’ll be dealing with layers of soaked and decomposing leaves under the top ones. That layer will resist being raked or shifted or mulched.
Warm season annuals are at the end of their life cycles. Pull them out of beds and containers. Assess perennials and clean them up by deadheading and pruning back leggy stems. Remove all weeds.
Add Cool Season Annuals
Depending on where you live in Florida, cool season annuals may be ready for planting in December. Add these to your containers and beds.
Add a fresh layer of mulch to beds that have been emptied, weeded, and planted with new annuals. The mulch will make tired beds look revitalized. It will also protect cold-sensitive plants in the event of a freeze (unlikely in south Florida, but likely between Central and North Florida).
Prepare for Freezes
Don’t let a freeze catch you off guard. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. When a cold front is coming, get outside ahead of it and take care of cold-sensitive plants. Bring container plants into the garage, put them up against the house, or wrap them in burlap or sheets. Cold-sensitive shrubs and small trees can also be wrapped in fabric.
Seed Your Lawn with Ryegrass
If you’d like to see green turf during the winter, turn to ryegrass. It grows from seed, so simply cast it over your dormant grass and water it in. It comes up as delicate, bright green blades. It lasts for the winter and dies out when the weather turns warm again.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows in round green balls from branches of host trees such as oaks, elms, hackberries, sycamores, and wild cherries. A tree severely infested with mistletoe may not be able to be saved.
Winter is the perfect time of year to examine your trees for mistletoe. Remove as much as you can yourself but be prepared to call in a professional tree service company to reach clumps at the tops of trees.