Landscaping Evaluation Report
Seminole Lake Country Club Estates Homeowners Association Site Visit – February 17, 2022
To follow please find my report regarding overall impressions, issues, and recommendations specific to Seminole Lake Country Club Estates Homeowners Associations ‘current landscaping practices and water conservation initiatives.
The recommendations provided applies to homeowners’ and common area landscapes.
OVERALL IMPRESSION AND ISSUES
The original landscapes are between 37-55 years old. The community’s major issues are reducing stormwater runoff and stormwater pond issues.
Many of the plants are planted very close to structures and too close together. Lack of aeration around plants might be a stress factor and may lead to a pest infestation. Also planting large shrubs too close to buildings, structures or walkways requires more frequent pruning to keep them 3’- 4’ high. Therefore, when designing a new landscape, it is recommended choosing plants that don’t grow taller and wider than desired to minimize pruning and maintenance. Pruning is discussed further below. Also consider root development of plants and trees. Match the mature plant and tree size with the planting space to keep plants healthy and prevent damage to surrounding structures, such as walls, curbs, and sidewalks.
The association has St. Augustinegrass in the landscape. Using proper landscaping maintenance practices, such as moderating nitrogen fertility, proper mowing height and only irrigating when the grass needs water, are ways to reduce environmental stress and thatch build-up. Please refer to the booklet “Best Management Practices”: https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/fflifasufledu/docs/GIBMP_Manual_Web_English.pdf and the UF/IFAS fact sheets on St. Augustinegrass for Florida Lawns: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH01000.pdf
the Weed Management Guide for Florida Lawns: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP141
Small and narrow strips of grass are difficult to maintain in regards of mowing, fertilizing, and watering and could be replaced by a drought tolerant groundcover, low growing shrubs or mulch. If the turf has the purpose of edging a bed, it might be necessary to either use a hardscape edging material to hold the soil and mulch in place or use border plants such as Society Garlic, Liriope or Mondo grass (for shade and partial shade) just to name a few. Please refer to the UF/IFAS fact sheets on Groundcovers https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/groundcovers.html
for full sun: Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/nassauco/files/2017/05/Mimosa.pdf and
Perennial Peanut (Arachis glabrata, Benth) http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep135
For sun and partial shade: Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) https://www.fnps.org/plant/phyla-nodiflora
Turf areas under trees might not receive adequate light to remain healthy. Grasses growing under trees are subjected to more than just shade stress. These grasses are competing with tree roots for soil space, oxygen, and nutrients. Tree roots may extend far from the canopy, so these competitive effects can also occur at some distance from the tree. Please refer to the fact sheets on Growing Turfgrass in the Shade http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep072
The association is irrigating with reclaimed or pond water water. As a general guideline for irrigation: Each zone should have an output of approximately 3?4” per watering cycle. The calibration of the sprinkler zones might be essential for correct watering and to determine the duration of watering per zone. Please refer to the UF/IFAS fact sheet on Calibration. https://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00003389/00001
The irrigation schedule should also be adjusted accordingly, like being reduced in the cooler winter months (skip a week of watering) while plants are dormant (late October through early/mid-March) and being shut off during the summer rainy season and only turned on when needed.
A regular inspection of the sprinkler heads and nozzles is recommended. Ideally the system should be inspected bi-weekly for broken or misdirected sprinkler heads, system malfunctions and leaks. Necessary repairs should be performed immediately for water conservation reasons and landscape health. Please refer to the fact sheet
Frequency of Residential Irrigation Maintenance Problem https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/AE/AE47200.pdf
If possible, the turf areas and the beds should be watered with different zones because of the difference in water requirements for turf and shrubs. Due to different runtimes, rotors, shrub sprayers as well as micro irrigation systems should be on separate irrigation zones.
It is required to have an automatic irrigation-shut-off device, such as a rain or soil moisture sensor on any automatic irrigation system. Regular maintenance to assure proper functioning of the irrigation-shut-off device should be included in the irrigation maintenance program. Soil moisture sensors are a more reliable and accurate irrigation control technology with less maintenance involved and therefore more practical for large community associations. Please refer to the fact sheets Residential Irrigation System Rainfall Shutoff Devices http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/AE221 and Smart Irrigation Controllers: How do Soil Moisture Sensor Irrigation Controllers Work http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae437
When changing or adding plants and trees to the landscape, always evaluate and modify irrigation accordingly. The most efficient and effective method for tree and plant establishment as well as regular watering is micro- or drip irrigation: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/entity/topic/microirrigation_systems
After plant establishment many plants and trees only need a fraction of what specific turfgrasses need. Please refer to fact sheet on tree planting and establishment https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf%5CEP%5CEP31400.pdf
Pruning shrubs too frequently will result in plants having a woody/leggy appearance at the bottom and forming a green “canopy” on the top and will decline eventually. Bloom production is greatly reduced on flowering plants that are frequently pruned. Therefore, when designing a new landscape, it is recommended using plants that don’t grow taller and wider than desired to minimize pruning and maintenance.
The so called “Hurricane” pruning on palms is not recommended. Only brown palm fronds should be pruned. Green, yellow, and partially brown fronds should NOT be taken off. Hurricane cuts will restrict the palms ability of photosynthesis (food production of the plant). Over time this will stress and weaken the palms which can lead to deformation of the trunk (pencil-pointing), make them more prone for breaking in heavy winds and can eventually kill the tree. Seed pods can be removed anytime without harming palms. Please refer to attached documents on palm care.
The inspection and pruning of trees, as well as structural pruning of young trees should be performed by a Certified Arborist. The website of the International Society of Arboriculture www.isa-arbor.com lists local
certified arborists https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist and offers valuable information about why to hire a certified arborist as well as information about any tree related topic.
Removal of the dead wood within a plant and tree can and should be done any time using pruning shears, loppers, or a handsaw for trees. This landscaping practice not only gives the plant a neat appearance it also will make room for new growth and removes entryways for diseases.
Please refer to the UF/IFAS fact sheet Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs: https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/documents/PruningLandscapeTreesShrubs.pdf
Mulch should be maintained 2”-3” deep. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil and moderates soil temperature, it also helps to reduce erosion and weeds. There are
many Florida-friendly mulches available, like Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Pine Bark mulch as well as the free recycled yard waste that the County makes available. Cypress mulch is not recommended because harvesting cypress trees from the wild negatively impacts wetlands. Always keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the base of shrubs and at least 1’ from tree trunks and from the foundation of buildings. Suitable non- floating mulch for landscape areas inundated from roof runoff are Eucalyptus, Melaleuca. Please refer to UF/IFAS fact sheet on Mulch: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/planting/mulch.html
6.) Fertilization/Pest Control
Each variety of plant and tree has unique nutrient needs. One fertilizer will not necessarily meet the needs of all. Established mature shrubs and trees should only be fertilized when deficient and only during the growing season. Using a slow-release fertilizer once or twice a year, as needed, is recommended. Ideally, plants should be monitored for nutritional needs and only fertilized when there are indications of malnutrition.
PLEASE NOTE: To reduce polluted stormwater runoff during the rainy season Pinellas County has adopted a fertilizer ordinance that prohibits the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen between June 1 and September 30. Phosphorus should only be used if a soil analysis indicates lack of phosphorus in the soil.
Turf can be fertilized up to twice a year. A turf fertilizer with at least 50% of slow release nitrogen is required.
When using reclaimed water for irrigation fertilizer use may further be reduced. Please refer to the Pinellas County Environmental Fertilizer and Landscape information https://www.pinellascounty.org/environmental/fertilizer.htm and use this App to enter your address and determine fertilizer use:
https://pinellas- egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/lookup/index.html?appid=326153a964e3458993ec417 dc3c12227
Reducing the amount of fertilizer and pesticides used on your lawn will minimize the amount of chemicals running off into the association’s stormwater ponds and stormwater systems. Please refer to the UF/IFAS fact sheet below on Fertilization of St. Augustinegrass: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH01000.pdf (page 4). The grass goes dormant in the winter months therefore the latest fertilizer application should occur before mid-October.
Many palms, not native to Florida, are subject to nutrient deficiencies. Please refer to UF/IFAS links below to learn about nutrient deficiencies and fertilization of palms: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ep273 https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP261
Applications of pesticides should not be done preventively, but only when needed. Recommended is spot treatment (not a broadcast application) using the least toxic remedy first. Refer to the UF/IFAS fact sheet Natural Products for Managing Landscape and Garden Pests in Florida http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in197
7.) Invasive Plants
The removal of non-native invasive plants (and seedlings) such as Brazilian pepper, Mexican petunia and carrotwood is encouraged. The landscape should be monitored on a
regular basis for the appearance of invasive species as they may quickly outgrow and displace your landscape plants. Refer to the UF/IFAS Fact Sheet for the Exotic Pest Plants for more information. http://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/ and the Florida Invasive Species Council: http://bugwoodcloud.org/CDN/fleppc/plantlists/2019/2019_Plant_List_ABSOLUTE _FINAL.pdf
Brazilian Peppertree Control: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/AA219
The Trifecta of (Invasive) Trees, Facts and Removal Strategies: https://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/aw/archived/aw18/presentations/Tuesday/GF/Session %201/0825%20Enloe.pdf
1.) Recommendations for the Existing and Improvement of Landscape
The suggestions you find in this report are based on the principles of Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM developed by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), and the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Program.
To improve the landscape, a change of landscaping practices is of the essence. If the community association agrees upon a different and in the long run healthier landscape, we can provide you with information how to achieve this goal.
Services such as leaf raking, hand weeding, hand pruning and removal of non-native invasive plants and seedlings that the association would like to have included in the regular landscaping maintenance could be specified in the landscaping maintenance contract. Also refer to the booklet “Environmental Landscape Management Guidelines”http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP34700.pdf
2.) Recommendations for a New Landscape
– For redesigning the landscape or part of it, it is recommended to have a design in place. – Test soil for pH. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf%5CSS%5CSS18700.pdf
– Choose the right plant for the right location (i.e. sun, shade, pH, space available, salt
tolerance) and group plants according to their needs.
– Consider mature size of plants that don’t grow taller than desired, to reduce pruning. – Use plants that are adapted to our local soils and climate to reduce maintenance.
– Don’t over-plant and give the plants room to grow into.
– Don’t plant too deep.
– Provide adequate water for plant establishment and consider micro-irrigation for non-
turf planting areas.
– and Mulch, Mulch, Mulch with organic materials.
– Utilize the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Plant Guide or App
https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ or order a free copy at SWFWMD https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/resources/free-publications
3.) Recommendations for Irrigation Efficiency:
Inspect irrigation system zone by zone with irrigation contractor and point out misdirected, clogged, and needless sprinkler heads that cause overspray, runoff and high-water use.
1. Reduce frequency of irrigation to once every 10 to 14 days during dormancy season
(November through March, depending on temperature).
2. In zones with mixed sprinkler heads (pop-up sprayers and rotors) consider retrofitting
pop-up sprayers with low flow sprinkler nozzles that have slower application
rates (i.e. hunter, rainbird, orbit).
- Replace high volume irrigation with microirrigation (by irrigation zone especially innon-turf and narrow areas) to reduce runoff and erosion.
- Change irrigation start time to early morning hours to prevent the development ofpotential fungal diseases on turfgrass and landscape.
- Check valves, sprinkler heads and pipes for leaks and repair for pressure.
- Don’t forget to calibrate the irrigation system to make sure the landscape receives3?4 inch per irrigation cycle.
Florida Friendly LandscapingTM Program Manager
UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension 2/22/2022