While South Floridians do not have to brave the chilly, barren winters of more northerly environs, in many respects it’s more difficult to maintain a lush lawn year-round than it is to plant more seasonally in a varied climate. Challenging or not however, keeping your grounds healthy, lush, and well-maintained is crucial to maintaining curb appeal and value—so it therefore becomes a critical issue for all associations to address.
“In Florida, we have the type of climate where problems such as pests and disease happen year round—whereas in northern states, they really don’t have these issues half the year,” says Michael Sacco, operations manager for the Lighthouse Point-based Empire Services Group. “Proper watering for the time of the year, how well drained your soil is and sun exposure is also very important.”
For many associations, the first question that arises is whether to hire an outside contractor to perform landscaping duties or use an in-house maintenance or staff to handle this all-important task. The fact is, there's more to cultivating healthy lawns than just sprinkling some grass seed, turning a hose on it for a few minutes, and letting nature take its course.
Sacco says that the blunder of planting the “wrong plant in the wrong location” goes for grass as well as other items like shrubs or flowers. Depending on a particular species' ideal growing conditions, it may not “like” a certain type of soil; it may be too acidic or alkaline, or too thick with nutrients and dirt causing root rot, which can ultimately kill a plant—including grass. It is for these reasons that Jeremy Smith, owner of Palm Beach-based Diamond Cuts Landscaping recommends using outside contractors to conduct this type of work, rather than opting to have in-house maintenance or grounds staff carry out lawn care.
Regardless of who handles this all-important responsibility however, Smith says there are protocols to follow. “Proper irrigation practices are most important,” he says, “followed by fertilization treatments two or three times per year and keeping an eye out for invasive pests, such as chinch bugs and grubs.”