Feb 24, 2015 3:55:00 PM / by Claude Kershner IV

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" 

The need: Although beautiful, the actual native plants that grow in the soils of South Florida, more specifically in Monroe County (i.e. hardwood hammocks) are not conducive to displaying color, being architecturally pleasing or decorative. “They also do not have the ability to provide ground cover or tearing / layering”, says Tim McKernan, a Landscape Designer with Reef Tropical. Therefore, most landscape designers, architects and homeowners specify nonnative species of plants. This will allow for more variety, a colorful look, layering, and much more.  Correspondingly, most homes in Florida have nonnative plants, which require more nutrients. They need more nutrients because the earth and soil in the area simply does not give it to them. In addition, local landscape pests (i.e. chinch bug, caterpillars, grasshoppers and white fly) are happy to eat and make a meal of these plants – it is more of a treat for them. They attack the native plants as well but are not as prevalent.

1. Nutrition (Fertilization)

2. Pests, Diseases and Fungal Control

3. Frequency of Service

Nutrition (Fertilizer): Most plant malnutrition has to do with alkalinity.  “The soil in Monroe County has a lot of alkaline, which hinders the plants ability to absorb nutrients,” says Tim McKernan. Just as humans are more susceptible to disease when weak and malnourished, so are plants. Feeding plants, trees, shrubs and sod nutrients on a regular basis will help them stay strong and disease free. You must ha

Pests, Diseases and Fungal Control:  The drainage in South Florida, especially in the Keys, is not ideal for pest, disease or fungal free environments. The ground is very hard and when the water sits and stays wet, they get root diseases. The way to eliminate these diseases is by spraying fungicide. 

Granular and Spray landscaping Monroe CountyThis spraying will kill the disease and allow the plant to develop new roots. When it comes to pests, the reactive approach (after the pest has been detected) sometimes comes too late. While we are always on the look out to discover the signs, sometimes they are very subtle and they do not show themselves until it is too late.  A quality program will allow you to be proactive with a topical and a systemic approach.

Topical means spraying the plants and having the pesticide land on or near the bugs to kill them. The systemic means drenching the pant and its roots, which will essentially make the plant poisonous so when the bugs go to eat the plant, it will kill the bug. This will keep the plant vibrant and rich with color.ve a license as the technicians work with different fertilizers and herbicides. They can also spray ornamental trees and shrubs. These fertilization programs are usually combined with pest prevention.

Frequency of Service: This will depend on your budget. There is always a program that will fit as long as you agree that a program is needed. Some of our clients get a weekly walk through with monthly treatments and some get a bi weekly walk through with quarterly treatments. It all depends on just how nice you would like your landscaping to look - the nicer you want the more frequent attention and service.  You are essentially paying for frequency and quantity of service. The healthiest landscape gets a quarterly granular feeding (fertilizer in a bag that you can take in hand and put around a palm) and a monthly foliar feeding (spray right on to a leaf that the pours of the plant can absorb). For pest and disease prevention, the monthly approach with fungicide coupled with the foliar feeding is the best approach. The least amount of attention is a TWAG - treat as we go program for pests (this is a reactive approach) and a quarterly granular fertilizer feeding. 


14549900089_0c92c67fec_bFertilization and Pest Control in South Florida is important for lawn maintenance needs. We want each one of our clients pay attention to these concepts and listen to our recommendations. We customize plans to each one of ourclient’s needs. There is a clear and specific need for this service in order to produce landscaping of quality. It is better to have no landscape or accent plants at all then to try to get some exotic plants to grow with no nutrients or pest treatments. The plant will simply not look good and will make the property look like it is declining.

Call Reef Tropical with any questions on these topics. We are experts at landscaping in Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada.  305.367.2005 ask for Claude Kershner IV or the landscaping department. 


Topics: Landscape Maintenance

Claude Kershner IV

Written by Claude Kershner IV

President Reef Tropical • Pool & Landscape

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