Reef Tropical Pool & Landscape

Navigating Landscape Restrictions in the Florida Keys Native Hammock

Jan 13, 2017 6:03:00 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance, Landscaping, Tree and Shrub Care, Landscape Design

The owner of a home in the Florida Keys called us because he wanted to install a driveway. The request seems simple enough—but because the project would mean removing trees that are part of a hardwood hammock, there was much more involved.

The fact is, there is a lot of protected land in the Florida Keys, including native hammock and other conservation easements. Tropical hardwood hammocks are canopy forests with a diverse range of native species. Hammocks are located throughout southern Florida, and in concentrated areas of Monroe County. Native hammocks are carefully protected land because of their importance in sustaining wildlife.

The Keys hammock area is attractive to some homeowners because of its natural beauty. However, the Florida Keys hammock has been threatened by development, so there are regulations on how one can alter the land. It’s important to know before you buy a property on the Florida Keys that the hammock is protected land.

Going back to the driveway example, the property owner did eventually get approval to remove some vegetation to build. But first, a biologist had to conduct a vegetative survey at the owner’s expense. Then, rat, snake and snail surveys were performed to determine how removing some of the hardwood hammock from the property would impact this wildlife. The whole process took about nine months, and in the end the homeowner had to pay about a $10,000 mitigation fee for removing the trees—and that’s before the driveway project could begin.

If you purchase a home or build in the Florida Keys hammock, here’s what you need to know about landscape restrictions and how owning land in the hammock or on a conservation easement could impact your ability to change the landscape. 

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The 7 Best Landscapers In South Florida: A Candid Look

Dec 16, 2016 11:43:41 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance, Landscaping

Your landscape’s health and appearance should increase the value of your South Florida property and enhance your outdoor living experience. The quality of your landscape matters. To look its best, even a simple landscape requires regular maintenance from a knowledgeable professional.

But what landscape company should you hire? Who are the best landscapers in South Florida, and how will they serve your property’s needs?

We know that investing in your landscape can positively impact property value.

  • In a study by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 84% said landscaping would affect their decision about whether or not to buy a certain home.
  • Meanwhile, a National Home Improvement survey found landscaping to be a top five recommendation realtors make for improving home value—and homeowners can expect an average 215% return on their investment in landscaping.  

The company you choose to care for your South Florida landscape can deliver that return on investment, or not. And, because we enjoy our outdoors year-round in South Florida, the beauty and health of our landscapes impacts our everyday life. That’s why this is a decision you should not take lightly.

So, let’s take a candid look at the seven best landscapers in South Florida, including Reef Tropical. We’ll compare services and expertise, and offer some insight on how these landscape companies stack up.

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Zoysia Grass or St. Augustine Grass in Florida? Here’s What To Consider

Dec 13, 2016 12:39:19 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

Whether you’re replanting an existing lawn or choosing grass for newly constructed landscape, you might be wondering: What type of grass is best for my Florida property? You’ve probably seen fine, thin, dark-green grass that feels like soft carpet to the touch. This is Zoysia grass, and there are several different varieties. The most popular right now in South Florida is Zoysia Empire.

St. Augustine grass is a hardy turf with a thick blade that grows readily in Florida. We half-jokingly say that it will grow on concrete. That’s how tough and resilient this grass is. While it’s not a grass that beckons a barefoot walk, we love how reliable and low-maintenance St. Augustinegrass is. And, when well maintained, this grass can also look great on a property. For most property owners, St. Augustine grass is the go-to. In Florida, we commonly grow the Floratam variety, named as such because it was created by the University of Florida and Texas A & M.

Decisions, decisions—how do you know which type of grass to plant in your Florida lawn? Before selecting Zoysia grass or St. Augustine grass, consider:

  • Appearance
  • Cost of installing the lawn
  • Growth habits of Zoysia vs. St. Augustine grass
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Disease control

Now, let’s go into more detail here…

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Going Underground: Why Irrigation Maintenance Checks Matter

Nov 4, 2016 9:42:33 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

It’s almost completely buried underground. You see some working parts of your irrigation system, such as sprinkler heads or the controller. But what lies beneath is carefully engineered infrastructure that is designed to deliver water at the right times, in the right quantities and to the right locations of your South Florida property. The irrigation systems on our properties work hard to maintain plant and turf health, but we don’t think a lot about whether they’re in optimum working condition.

At the end of the day, your irrigation system protects your landscape investment. You dedicate dollars and landscape maintenance resources to caring for your Florida grounds. The irrigation system preserves the time, money and effort you spend.

The problem is, many property owners install an irrigation system and never bother to maintain it. Then, they end up spending more on water and potentially harming plants by over- or under-watering. Plus, many systems are decades old and require ongoing monitoring, maintenance and repair.

We know that properties with an irrigation system will use 35 percent more water than those without irrigation. If those irrigation systems are not automated, the property could use 47 percent more water, according to the American Water Works Association.

This underscores the importance of a properly functioning irrigation system, and monitoring is the key to keeping water use in check. By responsibly operating your irrigation system, you will reap the benefits of a long-lasting, vibrant landscape that attracts visitors and tenants, improves property value and offers a better overall experience.

So, how can you be mindful of water use and maximize the efficiency of your irrigation system? How can you ensure that the irrigation system on your South Florida property is doing its job to deliver a most vital resource to your landscape.

The answer is actually simple: Ask your landscape provider to perform monthly irrigation checks to ensure the system is functioning properly. These checks may or may not be included in the standard landscape maintenance contract. At Reef Tropical, some clients’ contracts do include irrigation system monitoring.

Here is what to expect from an irrigation check, what maintenance points an experienced irrigation technician reviews, and how these regular check-ups can maximize your landscape investment.

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Professional Gardening vs. Basic Landscape Maintenance—Why the Difference Matters to Your South Florida Property

Oct 31, 2016 2:06:09 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

What does landscape maintenance mean to you? What do you expect when you hire a grounds management provider to care for your South Florida property? This is an important question to consider when you hire a professional landscaper because not all companies, and not all services, are created equal.

Some property owners want their Florida vacation homes to look neat and clean—mowed, edged, and healthy so they don’t have to worry about the landscape. Other residents expect their grounds to look like resorts with fine gardens with the type of detailed care that is delivered by a horticultural expert.

Of course, there are plenty of owners who want a service that falls in between these “premium” and “basic” levels.

What’s crucial is to be specific about what level of landscape maintenance you desire. What is you budget, and how do you expect the property to look while you are in South Florida enjoying it—and away, if the residence is a second home you’ll use seasonally.

At Reef Tropical, we spend time asking a lot of questions to get to know property owners’ needs. We find out how they like to spend their spare time—is it on their property in an outdoor living space, or on the beach or a boat (making the landscape a lower priority)?

We want to know what a beautiful landscape looks like to them.

For some, it means cut grass. Others have much higher expectations that includes artistic pruning of shrubs. (What are your goals?)

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Choosing The Right Landscape Maintenance Provider For Your Florida HOA Or Condo Association

Sep 27, 2016 7:14:00 AM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

In South Florida, landscape maintenance is an essential year-round service to ensure the beauty and quality of your property—and to protect the significant investment in your grounds.

It’s a tall order because the “growing season” here is constant. Plants thrive 12 months out of the year. Sure, snowbirds who own residences at your Florida HOA might only spend a few months on the property. But constant care is required to keep the HOA landscape at their vacation homes in prime condition.

Their second homes in your HOA or condo association are designed to be turnkey, maintenance-free and ready to go when they arrive for vacation. (They don’t want to think about who mows the lawn.) That responsibility falls on you as the HOA or condo association.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.

When you partner with a reputable landscape maintenance provider to manage the grounds, you can focus on what you do best: provide an optimum experience for residents.

The right landscape maintenance provider will deliver seamless service, deploy crews of experienced professionals, and truly serve as the eyes and ears of the property. If they see a problem in the landscape, they’ll flag it and fix it. If they recognize an opportunity to enhance your HOA’s landscape, they’ll provide recommendations and offer workable strategies for completing projects (including the ROI that HOAs can expect).

The right landscape maintenance provider is a true partner.

Hire the wrong landscape firm, and your Florida HOA will wear the signs of neglect and residents will recognize that quality is not up to par. (By the way—the property value will decrease, too.) We know it costs more to replace plant and renovate landscapes than to properly maintain them, so an HOA that cuts corners with landscape maintenance will end up paying more to mend the effects of hiring a provider that is not committed to their landscape maintenance.

So, what should you look for when you hire a landscape maintenance provider for your Florida HOA or condo association? (Equally important: What are red flags that you are, perhaps, in the wrong relationship?) Read on for some advice on selecting the right provider.

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Weekly vs. Bi-Weekly: Talking Landscape Maintenance Costs in South Florida

Aug 9, 2016 3:13:29 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

You probably have your schedule down to a science: Shower daily, take the trash out weekly, pay your bills monthly and (hopefully) remember your spouse’s birthday yearly.

But how often your landscape needs maintenance isn’t as exact of a science as the above tasks.

You understand it requires mowing, trimming, blowing, pruning and other maintenance tasks, however, knowing the frequency it needs those services might not be as clear-cut.

To figure out the best maintenance schedule for your property, you need to figure out your budget for the services and how you expect your landscape to look week in and week out.

Check out these differences between weekly and biweekly services and how the landscape maintenance costs compare to make your decision.

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Understanding Fertilization and Pest Control in South Florida

Feb 24, 2015 3:55:00 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

Fertilization and Pest Control are two very critical elements for healthy South Florida Landscaping. In this article, we will explain the reasoning behind the need for fertilization and pest control along with different aspects and categories for these programs. This is one of the elements in our "7 Ways to Improve Your Florida Landscaping" 

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Ganoderma Butt Rot - Palm Tree Disease

Jan 20, 2015 1:50:00 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

It’s crazy to see a palm tree look great one day,
then, within a couple of days, look horrible! Ganoderma Butt Rotis a fast spreading palm tree disease in Florida and needs to be addressed immediately so it does not spread to other palms. 


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Why should I Heavy Prune my Landscaping in South Florida?

Dec 18, 2014 5:09:00 PM / by Claude Kershner IV posted in Landscape Maintenance

Heavy pruning is necessary in South Florida. Florida shrubs, hedges and perennials tend to overgrow and cutting them back once a year will improve health, control growth and influence fruiting, flowering or appearance. 

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