Lawns and gardens: In Central Florida the heat is brutal so it’s important to have a reliable sprinkler system. Gardens that look good add a lot of curb appeal and make a great first impression. Landscaping that is designed for a rental home should look good and be easy to maintain. Some owners like to include professional garden maintenance services within the rent. However, you don’t have to be a professional to mow the lawn. Some tenants enjoy gardening so, why not offer it as an optional extra. A few neighborhoods are set up so the homeowner associations mow your lawns, weed, feed and mulch when needed. The cost of which is normally included the HOA’s fees. If the HOA doesn’t maintain the gardens, you can always make it the tenants responsibility.
1) In between tenancies, you will need to maintain this yourself or have your management company do this for you. In our lease we make tenants responsible for clipping bushes and scrubs and any limbs on trees no higher than six feet. Anything that needs a ladder needs a professional service. If someone trims trees or large bushes that isn’t licensed and insured and has an accident. They could be looking at you the owner for compensation or to pay their medical bills.
2) There are two main types of grass in Central Florida. If your grass feels harsh under your bare feet and not soft at all, then you probably have what is commonly referred to as St Augustine Grass. The ideal length to maintain is 3 1/2 inches once it’s been cut and remember that it will be weakened if it is cut too short. This type of grass cannot be seeded and if part of the lawn dies you will need to plant patches, which grow runners to join the other parts of the lawn. Bahia grass is more like a pasture grass and feels much gentler under your feet. It can tolerate a lack of water or a drought better than St Augustine but rarely gives you that carpet of luscious green grass like St Augustine does. Floratam, similar to St Augustine, grows better on a property with trees.
3) Watering your gardens and lawns: Sometimes, your sprinkler system uses recycled water from the HOA and it’s included in your dues otherwise you or the tenant have to pay for the water. From experience I’d recommend watering just a couple of times per week, around 4 or 5am is the best time to set your sprinklers. At that time the ground should be at its coolest and the landscaping will be able to make the most effective use of the watering. It allows the water a few hours to seep in before the sun comes up and dries it out! There may be specific days in your neighbourhood for watering, check it out with your local water provider.
4) If you find your lawn looks patchy with odd holes or brownish spots here and or there, first inspect the area surrounding the dead/brown spots. You probably need a sprinkler head or valve replacing or repairing? Generally made of plastic, they often become brittle over time and break. The problem could also be caused by an ineffective sprinkler system that needs upgrading as it simply doesn’t reach all the areas it should?
5) Feed & Weed: Does the HOA do this or are you expected to? You might decide the tenants can do this themselves. Feeding and weeding your greenery should be carried out at least a couple of times per year. Preferably it should receive a treatment every other month. Once it’s been sprayed it needs to be watered in within a day or the chemical you’ve treated it with may burn the lawn. Schedule your treatments to work with watering days in your neighbourhood.
6) Weeds it’s very important that you don’t pull weeds out alive, this allows the spores to spread all over the garden and where you had one weed you’ll shortly have at least six more. The best way to control weeds is to spray them with Round Up, wait a week until they are dead and then gently pull them out and dispose of them.
7) Bugs in your lawn, if your lawn becomes infected with chinch bugs or mole crickets it can die within two to three weeks. So, it’s important to be on the lookout for these bugs and regular spraying will keep them at bay and your lawn healthy. Brownish coloration in plants and bushes is due to a lack of water. If they look yellow this is due to a lack of food. So, you’ll either need to add some more watering to the schedule or plan for it to be sprayed with a good weed and feed treatment.
8) Mulching: Usually renewed in the spring and sometimes your HOA’s does this for you too. You’ll find you need to top up your mulch from time to time as it washes away in rain storms. We prefer to mulch in November or December as a layer of mulch several inches thick will afford your delicate tropical plants a little more warmth and protection against the colder weather! Losing mulch can be minimized with the installation of gutters to the house or using rubber mulch.
9) There seems to be a collation between how nice your home looks from the exterior to the quality of your applicants. So, ensure you don’t skimp on your curb appeal.
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