Florida deep freeze; will my landscaping survive this harsh winter?

florida winter plantWhile it may be “nothing” compared to our neighbors up north, we Floridians do in fact experience cold weather and even freezes! I know, it’s tough for us to put away the flip-flops, but more importantly, we want to keep our tropical, beautiful, sun-loving plants alive.

So, fellow Floridians here’s how to implement some simple proper planning and care that makes a life or death difference for our landscape plants:

First of all, plan ahead:

Our meteorologists do their best to predict future temperatures within at least a few degrees, give or take. So if they’re telling you a freeze or frost is predicted for your area, do the right thing for your plants and cover all of them with frost blankets so you’ll be prepared ahead of time.

Keeping your plants healthy during cold weather gives them an edge on faster recovery when it warms up. 

Don’t fertilize when it’s cold.

Applying fertilizer encourages new growth, which means newborn baby plants - and newborn baby plants are much more susceptible to damage and injury from the cold. Postpone fertilization until spring or move them to a protected area. 

Cover your plants the right way!

Throwing a cover over the top of your plants is not enough to give them the protection they need. During a hard freeze, your covers should entirely cover the plant all the way to the soil. This way, the ground heat is trapped beneath your plant. You might even want to add an electric light bulb underneath the cover for extra heat. If your cold-sensitive plant is too large to wrap completely, use several layers of newspaper of cloth to wrap the trunk. Remember to remove the covers once the outside temperature rises above freezing. 

If you waited too long, no worries.

If, despite your best efforts, your plants are still damaged by the cold, don’t rush to prune away the damages. Instead, wait for spring. Your cold-injured plants will still sprout below the damage, so you can see exactly where to prune.

Do's and Don'ts of Great Curb Appeal

Nicole Stevens

villages curb appealFirst impressions are so crucial in many different aspects of life. From relationships to jobs, even to home owning, a good first impression is an important one. Imagine any of the times you’ve driven through nice neighborhoods, potentially looking for a new place to rent or even buy. You drive slowly, taking a mental note of the nicer homes and speeding up a bit past the not so nice looking home; ones with overgrown lawns and faded/cracked mailboxes and a for sale sign out front. Would something like this hold an importance to a potential buyer? Absolutely! It’s called curb appeal, and it’s a crucial part in a buyer’s decision to purchase or not. Here are a few tips to make sure your curb appeal is far from appalling.

  • DO make sure you keep your lawn neat and clean! An unkempt lawn is an indication of laziness in how the home looks, so it can leave potential buyers wondering how bad the inside might look compared to the tall grass outside. This includes trimming any hedges that may grow alongside the home/property.
  • DON’T crowd your front yard area. This includes any lawn ornaments that could obstruct the view of the front door (or just look plain tacky) and flower assortment, specifically annuals. If you desire a floral presentation in the front yard, consider planting perennials as they last much longer and add color and beauty to the yard.
  • DO shine some light on the situation! If you have a driveway or partial sidewalk leading up to the front door, a few small solar lights to stake in the floor will help light the way when walking from vehicles to the front door in the evening.
  • DON’T make your front door a mystery. Your front door should stand out and be obvious that is the main entry way into the home. The entrance in the home should be a warming invitation and not a guessing game between a side or back door to the home.
  • DO keep an up to date mailbox. Or at least a sturdy, clean one. A broken, bent, warp or paint chipped mailbox is another indication of laziness in the upkeep of the exterior of the home. Upgrade the mailbox to one that’s weather resistant, and closes securely.
  • DON’T go too “out there” with the paint job. Everyone always remembers the random brightly colored house in the middle of a neutrally painted neighborhood, but it’s not always a potential buyer’s cup of tea. It provides a shock effect anddefinitely grabs the attention of lookers, but it is rare you will find someone in the market for a bright pink home. Stay within the pattern of the neighbors, neutral colors are safest – grays and beiges being most popular.
  • DO take the extra step and power/pressure wash the driveway/surrounding sidewalk and possibly the exterior of the home (professional help may be required with that last part). It will show the home is well taken care of and that the curb appeal extends all the way to, well, the curb itself!


How do I prevent a chinch bug invasion from my neighbor’s yard?

chinch bugTo chinch bugs, your lawn is dinner. 

You’ve done everything right. Watered your lawn regularly. Fed your lawn when you’re supposed to. Now and then, you discover you have what appears to be drought damage. If you have St. Augustine or zoysia grass, you definitely may be entertaining an entire troop of chinch bugs. These nasty, pesky little critters  suck your grass blades dry. Then, to take a step further, they inject a poison that kills the grass. Chinch bugs can kill patches of your lawn or the entire thing - and get them under control in your yard is one thing, but what happens if your neighbor’s lawn has an infestation too?

The short answer? Prevention is key.

As with any lawn issue, whether pests, weed or disease, a healthy, strong lawn offers better resistance to withstand pressure from pests. Following a rigorous lawn care schedule helps ensure you’re taking every measure available to keep your lawn at its best - including:

  • Mowing your grass to about 2 to 2 ½ inches in length
  • Applying fertilizer with proper timing and in proper amounts, using caution to avoid over-fertilization
  • Properly irrigating lawns in times of drought and avoiding improper watering or overwatering, which can weaken your lawn.
  • Manage thatch - Thatch is a buildup of dead grass, living grass and various other organic matter that creates a perfect environment for chinch bugs to feed and live.
  • If chinch bugs are consistently problematic year after year, preventative chinch bug pesticide should be applied in early spring befortoe eggs hatching. May is an optimal target month, but contact a professional for more accurate dates to apply preventative pesticides and keep a chinch bug free lawn all year long.

Keeping Your Landscaping Looking Beautiful...Even With Florida Summer Downpours

florida summer rainOftentimes, the primary difference between minimizing storm damage and sustaining a complete loss to landscape trees, gardens and flower beds comes down to how well your landscape is managed. 

During the Florida storm season, unpredictable summer downpours and even severe thunderstorms sometimes seemingly come out of nowhere. Maintaining a green thumb all year long on your landscape will profoundly enhance its chances of survival. Plants that are properly fertilized and pruned on a regular basis have the best rate of survival from high winds, rains, and even drought conditions.

A few key tips to keep in mind during this summer’s storm season are:

  1. Properly maintain and prune trees to enable them to withstand heavy gusts of wind.
  2. Prune low-hanging branches and remove weak or dead limbs.
  3. Inspect the base of the tree for fungal growth - which could be a sign that the tree has rot or decay, indicating severe weakness.
  4. Trees that are heavily weighted on one side more than the other need to be balanced, especially if the heavier side is opposite the prevalent winds.
  5. Remove any limbs that encroach upon a structure.
  6. When choosing plants and trees, remember to choose wind resistant breeds first. (these include conifers, palms and dicots like crape myrtles, live oaks, southern magnolias, bald cypress, some hollies and various sand live oaks).

Bee Friendly Landscaping Ideas

bee friendly landscapesUndoubtedly, you’ve heard about the recent drastic decline in honeybees and may want to find out if there is anything you can do to support maintaining and even increasing the local bee populations. Well, the excellent news is that there's a lot that you, as a homeowner can do to play your part in helping local bee populations thrive.

One thing you can do is use your landscape to feed local bee populations. Planting flowers that provide bees with nectar and pollen increase biodiversity for all bees, not just honeybees. If you have a lot of flowers, whether they are native or not, the flowers provide bees with vital nectar and pollen. Unfortunately, we are so often focused on a beautiful green lawn, free of flowers, which doesn’t contribute ecologically. A plain green lawn doesn't do anything for bees or other organisms.

So, what can you do to contribute to the survival of the bee population? A real kicker for improving your property to become bee friendly is maintaining an unbroken succession of blooms that last all season long. Include an assembly of plants on your landscape that bloom all spring and summer. Bees depend heavily on having a lot of blooms flowering in mid-summer which is the time of year that bees are producing the next year's queens. The real key here is to time your planting calendar to be sure something is always blooming on your property.

Keep notes of the times during the year that are naturally short on healthy flowering plants, and fill in those deficiencies. A good candidate for healthy flowering plants is the sunflower. Sunflowers are a mid-summer blooming flower. They can be planted at a time when there are not a lot of other things naturally blooming. Some sages are also midsummer blooms. Crepe myrtle is another midsummer bloom.

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What Your Neighbors Are Saying About Mansfield Landscaping

We have just completed a large landscaping job with Steve Mansfield and are totally pleased and impressed with the quality of the work, the overall appearance and the end product. The job was completed within a week of the estimate and far below other estimates. With those estimates the jobs could not have been started for over a month, at a much higher cost. We went to the nursery with our outside pictures and chose the specific trees we wanted in our yard. This was a long process, but well worth the effort. Steve likes to talk, but he estimated the job that we wanted with the exact trees we wanted to our total satisfaction.

Turtle (www.talkofthevillages.com)

Just had Mansfield landscape do our yard and am very happy with not only the work done, but with the large size and healthy quality of the plants and palms. The crew was wonderful and completed a major job in a half day. Extra plants were added and all the beds received extra mulching at no extra charge. I would highly recommend this company to anyone looking for a good, reliable landscape company.


Steve is an incredibly talented landscaper... definitely not a run of the mill type. He selects plantings with care and thought for locations and overall design. An added bonus is his conscientiousness towards his customers and the pride he takes in his work... all with good reason. His workers are polite and efficient about cleanup after installing plants. I do not hesitate to give him my highest recommendation.

Julie Moretti (The Villages)

We just had the front of our home landscaped by Mansfield Landscaping and could not be happier. We love the new look ! From start to finish, the professionalism and workmanship exceeded our expectations. We would highly recommend Mansfield Landscaping to anyone looking to have some work done.

John and Joanne Weigel

We agree with Angie. Our landscaping was done by Mansfield Landscaping when we purchased our new home. Almost two years later one of our Sylvester palms was dying. We contacted Steve, and 2 days later the dying Sylvester was removed and new one planted...and at no cost. That is what we call service! We still receive compliments on the landscaping wall, islands, etc. Highly recommend Mansfield Landscaping.

Betty Churn (www.talkofthevillages.com)

The Mansfield crew did a terrific job talking with us about what we wanted, and where we wanted the plantings. They brought out a big selection of plants to chose from. The Mansfield folks were very polite and willing to help us in anyway as we determined what we wanted installed. What we wanted moved from existing plants. And care and feeding of the newly installed plants and palms. Ron in particular was very helpful as well as the regular crew foreman. Scott the lighting and irrigation guy was very through. We would highly recommend Steve Mansfield and his company for landscaping work in The Villages.

Jim and Mollie Chritton

I just wanted to thank Mansfield for doing a great job at our courtyard villa in the Villages. the place looks beautiful and we have had a number of nice comments from the neighbors. The work was done in a timely and clean manner. We got just want we wanted and love the way the place looks. Thanks.

Gail and John Simonetti