Choosing a Landscape Professional

Choosing a Landscape Professional

Finding professional landscape services for your home or business can be difficult. Unlike many skilled trades in Florida, landscapers/groundskeepers are mostly unregulated. No state exams exist to determine mastery of the basic skills required to perform lawn or landscape maintenance. Ultimately, consumers are left on their own to determine who to hire.

As UF/IFAS Extension Agents, we cannot endorse or provide referrals to companies; however, we can offer some guidance to help you with your search for qualified professionals.

  • Be an informed consumer. You don’t have to be an expert in landscapes. Instead you should have an idea of what you envision for your landscape. Familiarize yourself with the type of turf grass and plants you want and learn what the basic maintenance is for their upkeep.

The Florida Friendly Landscaping™ program is a great place to start. Most Extension offices have free books on how to care for Florida landscapes. Or you can find online resources at www.floridayards.org

  • Fertilizer and pesticide applications DO require state certifications.
    Gardener fertilizing yard

    Commercial landscape fertilizer applicators must obtain state certification.

    • Fertilizer applicators for hire must maintain the Limited Urban Fertilizer Applicator Certification (Chapter 482.1562, Florida Statutes). Each applicator must have an individual certification. No one can “work under” another applicator’s certificate.
    • Pesticide applicators (any substance applied with the intent to kill or inhibit growth of weeds, insects, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, etc.) have two options depending on application site and qualifications.
      • Residential or commercial building turf pesticide applicators must hold the Commercial Lawn & Ornamental Pest Control License or be a current Employee Cardholder of the Certified Pest Control Operator
      • Residential or commercial ornamental beds (trees, shrubs, flowers) pesticide applicators can hold either Commercial Lawn & Ornamental, as above, or Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance Certification
    • You can check to see if the applicator has a current certification by visiting http://aessearch.freshfromflorida.com/PersonSearch.asp You must enter the applicator’s legal name (name listed on his driver’s license, no nicknames) or their certification number (this will start with two letters)
  • Ask about affiliations with professional organizations. Although landscapers are not required to obtain state certifications (excluding fertilizer and pesticide applicators), many take the extra steps to increase knowledge and keep up with industry standards and trends. Voluntary participation in organizations such as Florida Pest Management Association (FPMA), Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA), Florida Turfgrass Association (FTGA), Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), International Association of Arboriculture (ISA), etc. Some of these groups offer certification programs for professionals to help them increase knowledge.
  • Word of mouth/observation. If you see a landscape that looks good, ask who they use and if they are pleased with their service. Talk to friends and colleagues for recommendations.
  • Check references. Always ask for references and contact them. Yes, they may only give you the names of happy clients, but you can still ask questions to get a feel for the type of service offered and assess the longevity of the company.

Landscape professionals looking for certification classes should visit Green Industries in the Panhandle Upcoming Events page. Books

Fall Gardening on the Horizon

Fall Gardening on the Horizon

Start preparing now so your fall garden will be full of dark leafy greens, multi-colored lettuces, and root vegetables of all shapes and sizes. Photo by Molly Jameson.

August is a double-edged sword. The oppressive heat is at its pinnacle – where even the thought of spending time in the garden makes you break into a sweat – but it is also the time of year that visions of fall start coming into focus, and you can’t help but peek at the weekly forecast for signs of declining temperatures.

If your garden looks anything like mine, there are sweet potato vines weaving in and out of every corner of sunlight they can find. The sweet peppers you let fully ripen are bright red and sweeter than ever. You may have already reaped the reward of your watermelons, but you’re still hoping you can get the harvest timing right for the late season bloomers. Your okra is as tall as you – maybe even taller – and you’re grateful, for their big oblong heart-shaped leaves are shading out at least some of those warm-season weeds.

Fall is the time to start growing kale, lettuce, onions, parsley, mustard greens, and much more. Photo by Molly Jameson.

But the seasons are-a-changing, and soon you’ll be pulling up the last of your summer garden to make room for dark leafy greens, a cornucopia of roots, and a rainbow of lettuce varieties.

If this is making you want to rush to your nearest plant nursery and unearth all your half-used fall seed packets, then come on down to the Leon County Extension Office in Tallahassee to join us for our annual Fall Backyard Gardening Series!

This is a two-part series, running from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on September 4 and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on September 11, 2018, at 615 Paul Russell Road. I, along with Extension Agents Mark Tancig and Trevor Hylton, will discuss garden site selection, soil and fertilization, and fall planting and gardening techniques. As a bonus, you’ll leave with freshly planted vegetable seeds to take home to later transplant into your garden.

Please register on Eventbrite. The cost for both evenings is $10, and light refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Molly Jameson at mjameson@ufl.edu or by phone at 850-606-5219.

And if you’re not in the Tallahassee area, check with your local extension office to see what fall gardening events they may have available. Tending a fall garden in Florida can be one of the most rewarding outdoor endeavors you can experience!

Bay County Air Potato Challenge and Invasive Species Awareness Day a Success

Bay County Air Potato Challenge and Invasive Species Awareness Day a Success

On June 6th, we held an Invasive Species Workshop: Air Potato Challenge and Species Awareness day at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Panama City. Over 700 air potato leaf beetles were distributed to more than 30 sites in Northwest Florida by citizen scientists to help manage the invasive air potato vine!

We were joined by University of Florida Wildlife Ecology Professor, Dr. Steve Johnson, and representatives from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and Science and Discovery Center (SDC) of Northwest Florida.  If you would like to learn more about topics covered at the workshop, please click on the videos below. We hope you enjoy and share!

 

 

Steve Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension, shares Exotic Invaders: Reptiles and Amphibians of Concern in Northwest Florida. (Updated June 7 2018 – 10AM CDT) http://www.eddmaps.org and http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/steve_johnson.shtml

 

Rick O’Connor, UF/IFAS Extension, tells us about the ball python, a potential invasive species. Rick also provides an overview of keeping pythons and other snakes as pets. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW34100.pdf

 

Holli Nichols, FWC, tells us about the Wildlife Assistance program for homeowners and property owners. Holli helps out find solutions for negative encounters with Wildlife. Most problems are easily solved and she provides a few tips. Holli also tells us about the FWC Pet Amnesty Program for Exotic Pets. Watch to learn more. http://myfwc.com/conse…/you-conserve/assistnuisance-wildlife

 

Kira Burdeshaw, SCN of NW FL, shows off the tokay gecko we found at the Extension office on the front porch earlier in May. The Gecko moved in with Kira and her other reptiles at the Science and Discovery Center.
http://myfwc.com/wildlifeha…/nonnatives/reptiles/tokay-gecko

 

Kira Burdeshaw, SCN of NW FL, introduces us to Jewel the iguana and Eva, a boa contrictor. She also tells us more about the Science and Discovery Center in Northwest Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN52800.pdf and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW34200.pdf

 

Mike Kennison, FWC, shares resources and efforts to manage lionfish in Florida waters. Learn more about this Summer’s Lionfish Challenge at http://myfwc.com/…/saltwater/recreational/lionfish/challenge

 

Derek Fussell with FWC Invasive Aquatic Plant Management talks about Giant Salvinia, a species of concern for Deer Point Lake in Bay County, Florida. Here’s a link to a story about the discovery of giant salvinia in Bay County from 2016 http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/…/nisaw-2016-working…

 

Derek Fussell shares a behind the scene’s view of their new boat for controling aquatic plants in Bay County and Northwest Florida. We will visit with Derek and Jamie later and show some of the aquatic invasives they work to control everyday!


Scott Jackson and Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS, show Air Potato Beetles and discuss vine look-alikes. Schedule for the June 6, 2018 is briefly discussed. https://t.co/8c9KdV9Ezm More at https://t.co/gVh28N714E#airpotatochallenge #invasivespecies

A Robotic Mower Debuts at the Gulf Coast Turfgrass Expo & Field Day

A new research project at the West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, FL is looking into the quality of turfgrass cut with a robotic mower.  The study is to determine whether the quality of St. Augustinegrass can be improved by continuous mowing with a robotic mower at 2.4″ height instead of the traditional mowing height of 3.5″, removing only a third of leaf blade material per mowing.

Dr. Shaddox discusses the Miimo mower.

Dr. Shaddox talking to participants at the 2018 Gulfcoast Expo & Turfgrass Field Day. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

The mower being tested is the Miimo manufactured by Honda.  This particular model mows and charges on its own and can mow up to 0.37 acres on one charge.  It can mow in three programmable cutting patterns: directional; random; or mixed.  The study is utilizing the random cutting pattern.

Miimo Mower Docking

A Miimo Mower pulling into its docking station. Photo Credit: American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

The mower’s three, two-sided blades are mounted on a circular head that can rotate both clockwise and counter-clockwise.  The head automatically switches between clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation to reduce wear on the blades.  The blades are basically just two-sided razor blades.  A buried guide wire is installed on the perimeter of the lawn to serve as a boundary.

Mower Blades

A close-up shot of the Miimo mower blades. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

So far, the plots cared for by the robotic mower look promising!  The blades on the robot are much finer than those found on a common rotary mower.  Because of this, they cut more cleanly and tend to tear the grass blades less often than the rotary mower.  Other robotic mowers on the market include the Worx Landroid, Husqvarna Automower, and Bosch Indego.  Please stay tuned for future robotic mower evaluations on other products, energy consumption, and nutrient evaluation.

Still Time to Register for the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference!

Register today for the 2018 Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference!  The Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference is scheduled for February 19th & 20th.  On the 19th we will go on an afternoon farm tour in Baldwin County, AL that will end with dinner (included) at Auburn University’s Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope.  Educational sessions with guest speakers from University of Florida, Auburn University, and Texas A&M University will be held on February 20th where topics will include Citrus Production, Vegetable Production, Protected Ag Production, Marketing/Business, Food Safety, and Fruit & Nut Production.  A full list of topics can be found here.  Fifty dollars (plus $4.84 processing fee) covers the tour and dinner on the 19th and educational sessions, breakfast, and lunch on the 20th!  The complete agenda is now available.  Use your mouse or finger to “click” on the image below for full screen viewing.

Make sure to register by Wednesday, February 14th! – Registration Link

Meet the Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference Keynote Speaker

Every gardener should know a thing or two about farming. Join UF/IFAS Extension at the 2018 Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference to not only learn about market vegetable production, fruit and nut production, and much more, but also to attend the pre-conference farm tour and listen to a speech by the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Joy Rumble, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida.

Dr. Joy Rumble, the 2018 Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference Keynote Speaker.

Dr. Rumble is originally from Mount Gilead, Ohio. She earned a bachelor of science degree from The Ohio State University, majoring in animal science. During her undergraduate studies, Dr. Rumble raised livestock, worked as an intern on two large swine operations, and served as a summer intern for the USDA Farm Service Agency. She earned a master of science degree in agricultural communication and continued her education at the University of Florida, where she graduated with her doctorate in agricultural education and communication in 2013.

Dr. Rumble is now an Assistant Professor and Extension Programming Coordinator with the University of Florida. Her research focus is effective communication and raising awareness of agricultural and natural resources issues within the agricultural industry. She concentrates many of her outreach initiatives at the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center).

At the PIE Center, Dr. Rumble strives to measure knowledge, behaviors, and perceptions of agriculture of Florida constituents and responds to the many economic, environmental, and social challenges we face within the state. She often shares her findings through the Easy as PIE webinar series to allow both the public and Florida’s policymakers to make informed decisions to preserve the assets of the state’s agricultural and natural resources. Most recently, Dr. Rumble was a speaker for an Easy as PIE webinar to discuss a statewide strategic plan for agritourism.

Dr. Rumble’s service as the UF/IFAS Extension Programming Coordinator creates improved citizen awareness of agriculture and natural resources through UF/IFAS County Extension Offices.

Dr. Rumble assisting with a UF/IFAS campus tour for Florida Senator Bill Nelson’s staff on October 18th, 2016.

Make plans to attend the 2018 Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference on Tuesday, February 20, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the University of West Florida Conference Center (11000 Conference Parkway, Building 22) in Pensacola, Florida. You will learn about the importance of agricultural communication from Dr. Rumble directly, and attend conference educational tracts on North Florida Citrus Production, Fruit and Nut Production, Vegetable Production, Marketing, Food Safety, and Protected Agriculture. The conference will also provide an opportunity for networking and give you a chance to meet farmers from across our region.

Also included in the conference ticket price is the pre-conference “Buy Local” farm tour on Monday, February 19, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tour buses will start out at the University of West Florida and will make three stops, traveling to the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope, Alabama, a hydroponic vegetable farm in Daphne, Alabama, and the Allegri Farm Market, also in Daphne, Alabama.

For more information and registration visit https://pfvc2.eventbrite.com. Early bird registration is $50 (+ service fee), before February 1, 2018. Your registration includes continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments, educational materials, and transportation to the farm tour locations. We look forward to seeing you there!