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Garden Maintenance Guidelines

You have made a significant investment in your garden. We want to help our clients keep it growing and thriving. It is in both of our interest to keep your project in tip-top shape! HS2G is available for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual consultation on the maintenance of your project. Contact our office to schedule a review.


The purpose of this document is to guide the Owner in the care and maintenance of newly planted trees, palms, shrubs, and ground covers as called for by the design. The following program outlines the careful and continuing maintenance, which will insure the health and vitality of these plants. Proper management and follow-up are essential to keep your landscape thriving.

Most clients will hire a professional company to perform regular maintenance; however, many clients enjoy “puttering” in the garden. The intent of this guide is to inform you of the necessary tasks, and potential problems, so that you can monitor the maintenance and adjust accordingly.

Finally, attached is a set of recommendations and a chart, which can be used or edited by the Owner. These outline routines are for managing fertilization and micro-nutrient deficiencies, and for control of weeds, pests, disease and fungus. All applications should be recorded in the maintenance manual provided.



  • Although established trees and palms should thrive on irrigation and/or rainfall, it may be necessary to thoroughly soak the trees/palms during periods prolonged drought. This is especially true during the first growing season after planting. Check all trees and palms weekly for dryness. The most obvious sign for trees is drooping or "wilted" leaves. With palms it is more difficult: by the time drought is evident, the palm is already stressed: you may notice drying or browning of bottom leaves. If you suspect a plant is too dry, remove the mulch from the base and "sample the soil" approximately 12"-15" deep; and if no moisture is present begin immediate and thorough irrigation.

  • Water each tree or palm until the ground is saturated to the base of the tree root ball. The tree saucer will fill and retain water for several minutes when the soil is saturated. Water carefully so as not to damage tree saucers, and the water retained does not run off. If the wall of the water retention ring has been damaged, repair any soil tree ring to ensure water will percolate around plant root zone.


  • Maintain a minimum layer of 2"-3" shredded mulch in the tree ring around all trees (old and new) to preserve moisture control and reduce weed growth around the base of trees and palms.

  • Preferred mulch type: Eucalyptus, or Citrus/Eucalyptus mix available at Home Depot.


  • All trees shall be fertilized by broadcasting the fertilizer application outward from the trunk towards the drip line at the outer edge of the canopy. Palms can be fertilized within the tree ring but avoid placing fertilizer at the base of the trunk.

  • Fertilization application should be 3 times per year. Avoid fertilizing in November through February; these are the months we are most likely to have a “cold snap” and tender new leaves are most likely to be burned by low temperatures and drying winds. The months of March, July and October are recommended to complete the cycle.

  • Apply at the rate recommended by the Manufacturer. Refer to the product label found on the bag. Also see the fertilizer specification table, at the end of the Guidelines, for each type of plant.

  • Soil in planting beds should be soaked with at least 2" of water immediately after fertilizing (within 24 hours).


  • Pruning should be done in late spring before Hurricane Season! It is best to hire a professional tree company that employs a certified arborist. Make sure you check to make sure they are fully insured to your satisfaction prior to commencing work.

  • Trees: Remove all dead, diseased, crossing branches and “water sprouts” at least once per year. The intention of this pruning to maintain the natural shape and function of the trees.

  • Palms: prune all dead fronds and flower stalks at least once per year, (depending upon species).

  • Suckers: Remove all sucker growth two times a year, or more often as needed. Sucker growth is defined as the shoots that sprout out around the base of a tree/palm trunk or upon the trunk below the primary branching height.


  • Check all trees/palms on a quarterly basis for abnormal conditions: pests, disease, deficiencies, or damage. Follow recognized horticultural procedures for immediate treatment of these conditions. (Refer to Bibliography for information sources.)


  • Trees and shrubs in good health will require little, or no, attention; however, occasional pest problems are to be expected. When an infestation occurs, the pest responsible is to be identified and an appropriate treatment applied, as recommended by the County Cooperative Extension Agent.

  • You can apply chemicals yourself, or hire a certified company to spray. Be aware that spray companies may want to put you on a schedule to spray a monthly cocktail of chemicals. A quarterly service is usually sufficient. Also, it is best to walk the project with the person responsible for spraying and make sure they are aware of specific issues. The technician must be able to identify specific pests (white fly, scale, aphids, chinch bug, fungus, etc.) and apply the appropriate product.

  • DIY: Products such as "Orthene", "Malithion", "Diazinon", "Sevin" can be purchased at your local nursery, or hardware store, and applied with a small, canister-type sprayer. Maintain separate and clearly marked canisters for pesticide and herbicide application!

  • Natural pesticides, such as Safer's Soap, and Neem Oil, are non-toxic pesticides safe for use on edible plants, and in areas frequented by children and pets.

  • If you have specific problems, or deficiencies, call the local IFAS Research and Education Center.

  • Ants can be controlled by using a dry mixture, such as Amdro, applied in small piles next to the anthills or runs. Do not pile on surfaces where stain will occur, or small children or animals will be exposed.

  • NOTE: Use chemicals in strict accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. All treatment shall be recorded in the maintenance manual!


  • Straighten any leaning trees by pulling them to an upright position and installing a new guy wire and/or stake. If a tree cannot be successfully straightened by pulling over without damage, then dig around the root ball and straighten out. Root pruning prior to up-righting the tree might be necessary to prevent shock. When wrapping wire around the tree, be sure to install a piece of rubber hose such that the wire will not cut into the tree.


  • Maintain mulched tree saucers to avoid mechanical injury to trees and palms by the use of mowers or string trimmers. Saucers should be approximately 3' in diameter, with a 6" raised edge.


  • More than any other cause, long-term damage and death to new trees are caused by string trimmers, better known as "weed eaters". Trees may be protected using thick plastic or rubber-based material that wrap around the lower 12 inches.



  • If rainfall is insufficient to keep all shrubs and ground covers moist they must be watered thoroughly, by hand and/or irrigation system. This is particularly important during the first year after planting, but can go much longer. Smaller plants with shallow root systems must be thoroughly watered once a week during unseasonably dry conditions. "Wilting" plants need to be hand watered and irrigation watering time doubled for the next 24 hours after identification of the condition.


  • Prune shrubs and ground covers such that a clean and manicured appearance is exhibited at all times. It is best to let a shrub and ground cover grows out several inches before pruning.

  • Cutting too much is a typical problem seen on many projects. Maintenance Contractors will cut all shrubs and ground covers with every mowing. Mostly this turns the plant into individual ball-shapes, or squared off hedges, which becomes unsightly and undesirable.

  • Prune and/or thin a minimum of two times per year to adequately maintain an attractive shape and fullness with respect to the intended character of the plants. Consider specific plant characteristics (i.e., setting of flower buds) to determine specific pruning times. Prune flowering plants immediately after flowering and again 4 months later, if necessary.

  • Shaped hedges and Topiary require special pruning techniques; both are high maintenance and require special knowledge and practice. If this is the "look” you want, you have several options: you may do research, take classes, or workshops for instruction in pruning techniques. Alternately, you may hire a maintenance company that excels in such pruning. Ask to see several exemplary projects.


  • All shrubs and ground cover areas are to be continuously maintained with a clean, freshly mulched appearance by reapplying the mulch originally specified as necessary. Do not pile mulch directly against the base of plants’ stem, as this can lead to fungal problems. All beds are to be kept free of weeds at all times.


  • All shrubs and ground cover shall be fertilized by broadcast fertilizer application, outward from the inner edge of the plant, avoiding the trunk area. Fertilization application should be 3 times per year (avoid fertilizing in November through February): The months of March, July and October are recommended to complete the cycle.

  • Apply at the rate recommended by the Manufacturer. Refer to the product label found on the bag. Also see the fertilizer specification table, at the end of the Guidelines, for each type of plant.

  • The soil in the planting beds should be soaked with at least 2" of water immediately after fertilizing (within 24 hours).


  • Flowering shrubs such as ixora, hibiscus and bougainvillea can be stimulated into bloom by applying "Bloom Aid", or a similar product with a high proportion of Potash. Apply as per manufacturer's recommendations.


  • Maintain 2-3" of mulch in planting beds, and establish a monthly weeding program. Both chemical and mechanical means can be used to control weeds and/or undesirable grasses in mulched areas. Planting beds should be manually weeded, or treated with herbicide, on a regular basis to prevent unsightly weed growth.

  • Products such as "Round Up" (Glyphosate) can be purchased at your local nursery, or hardware store, and applied with a small, canister-type sprayer. This is a systemic herbicide used to kill broad-leaf weeds and grasses.

  • NOTE: Glyphosate is known to cause health problems. IF you choose to use chemicals apply in strict accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. Maintain separate and clearly marked canisters for pesticide and herbicide application! Never mix them.

  • There are safe alternatives to RoundUp. Here are some links for more information:

  • If you have specific problems, or deficiencies, call the local IFAS Research and Education Center.



  • Watering deeply in the late afternoon before an anticipated freeze may protect plants. If you have an irrigation system, you may run your full system for an extended period, (or, simply run it twice). Make sure you water early enough that the leaves will "dry" before the front arrives. The rationale behind this procedure is two-fold: 1) Drenching the soil with water retains heat. 2) Watering the plants deeply protects them from the effects of drying winds and low humidity that accompany the cold.

  • Rare, small, or very sensitive specimens may be covered for the duration of the cold snap. Use plastic pots, trash containers, boxes, etc. (Try not to use black plastic: it heats up too much in the sun. If you must, remove it as soon as possible in the morning to prevent burning.) Containerized plants may be brought indoor during especially cold periods. Use your discretion.



  • Maintain shapes and configuration of plant beds as installed. All curbs, asphalt edges, sidewalks and planting beds should be edged with every grass cutting. All turf adjacent to sprinklers or fences should be cut with a weed eater at each cutting of grass.


  • Remove all extraneous leaves, weeds, limbs debris and trash from plant beds as necessary to constantly maintain a completely clean appearance. This shall occur with each mowing from all shrub and groundcover beds.


  • At times there can be uncontrolled growth of unwanted weeds found in the grass. While having virtually all the same type of lawn (monoculture) is thought to be desirable, it can be an impossible chore. Most projects require a yearly application of ´"Weed and Feed" granular fertilizer to keep the other weeds from taking over the lawn.


  • Hand irrigation and the automatic irrigation system are to be used as a supplement to rainfall. Careful observation of the water requirements for all the landscape and sod areas is essential to maintain healthy, vigorous plants. Adjust the timing of the irrigation system to rainfall and seasonal conditions.


  • St. Augustine grass should be cut at 3 1/2" to 4" of green leaf blade measurement at no more than 10 to 12-day intervals between the first day of May and mid-October. From mid -October to the end of April, St. Augustine should be cut at no more than 17 to 18-day intervals.

  • St. Augustine should be cut with a mulching rotary mower and allow clippings to decompose in place. All adjacent swale or right-of-way grass is to be maintained along with the on-site grass and in a like manner. No more than one third of the leaf blade is to be cut at each one mowing.

  • Specialty Turf, such as Zoysia and Centipede require special cutting techniques. Refer to the links below for more information:


  • Review the irrigation system on a quarterly basis for damage. All sprinkler heads damaged or destroyed due to maintenance should be promptly repaired or replaced. We recommend a monthly check of the irrigation system to keep the system in proper working condition.


Recommended Schedule

Fertilizer Schedule
Fertilizer Schedule

We recommend using LESCO 8-2-12+4 with micro-nutrients. This is a “90-day feed” formula; however, climactic conditions will determine how long it lasts. During periods of warm temperatures and heavy rain, the fertilizer will deplete more rapidly. This is the formulation recommended by the University of Florida Agricultural Extension Agency for landscape plants, including: palms, shade and fruit trees, shrubs, ornamentals and turf. For more information, search for the PDF “Palm Care and Problems” article by Dr. Monica L. Elliott, University of Florida – IFAS, Fort Lauderdale Research & Education Center. (

  • We recommend applying fertilizers that are made for Florida: they are formulated for our high soil pH and seasonal rainfall. Micro-encapsulated fertilizers are time-released; therefore, they last longer and are safer to apply (non-encapsulated mixtures which are high in Nitrogen can burn plants).

  • Always follow fertilizer application with a thorough watering. If you rely on an irrigation system, we recommend running it twice immediately following fertilization. You can call the manufacturer for further information on specifications, recommendations, & local suppliers.

  • For a quick response, or to spot treat individual plants, you can apply a liquid fertilizer as a foliar feed. Garden Supply stores, including Home Depot, have garden-hose attachments for the home gardener. There are numerous products available for foliar use: "Miracle-Grow", "Peters 20-20-20", and others with special formulations and micro-nutrients.

  • If you have specific problems, or deficiencies, contact HS2G, or, the local IFAS Research and Education Center for more information:

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