The last week of April 2014 brought with it 10-22 inches of rain across the panhandle in a matter of days.  Some areas had immediate flooding and standing water, while others may be in areas at risk of rising rivers and streams.  As the water recedes, many people are wondering how all the water will affect their landscapes.

Only time will tell what the long term impact will be, but here are a few things to watch for and what you can do to try to moderate damage.

  • Let soils dry out before driving vehicles or other equipment on grassy areas.  Even if the water is not visible, if the soil is still saturated, driving lawn equipment or cars may cause ruts.
  • Do not leave automatic irrigation systems running on established shrubs, trees, and lawns.  If your system is set to run in the early morning hours, you may not think about it being on, check your systems and hold off on adding water until soils dry out and the plants need it.
  • Watch for fungus symptoms and treat if needed.  Wet plants and cool weather are ideal for some Brown Patch on lawns, be aware and monitor landscapes closely.  If disease is suspected, contact your local county extension office for recommendation.
  • When mowing, leave a longer leaf blade to compensate for root stress.
  • Look at the base of trees and shrubs to make sure silt and sand have not buried the crown or root flare.  Also look for erosion of root zone, these areas may need correction.  “Salvaging Flood-Damaged Shrubs and Ornamentals.” 
  • Adjust fertilization as needed; if you recently applied fertilizer it has likely runoff or leached from the site.  However, if you suspect fungal disease do not fertilize until disease is managed.
  • Stress in turfgrass, for details read “Watch Turf for Flooding Stress
  • You may see new weeds (seeds or segments may have washed or blown into your yard)
  • Tree and shrub decline or death read “We Had Plenty of Rain, Why are My Trees Dying?”
  • Although this storm was not a hurricane, “Assessing Damage and Restoring Trees After a Hurricane”  has helpful information for areas with wind damage
  • Nutritional deficiency symptoms in palms may show up 4-5 months from now. “Nutrient Deficiencies of Landscape and Field-grown Palms in Florida.
  • Decreased availability and increased price of sod (flooded fields prevent harvest and increase inputs for disease, weed, and nutrition management)
  • Scheduling changes or maintenance adjustments by landscape contractors.  Turfgrass and ornamentals will likely need different maintenance applications than in years past to correct issues related to flooding and excess rain.