We recently returned from a visit in Florida visiting one of my sons, Nick, daughter-in-law Val, and their son Ian. I had the opportunity to get a taste of Florida landscaping working two days with Nick. Some differences in grounds maintenance/upkeep worth pointing out are:
Weather: It’s hot in Florida, duh. While New Jersey has its summer heatwaves, Nick says the summer heat in Florida is pretty consistent and goals are to start the job earlier and end earlier to beat the late afternoon heat.
Though we were dry on our visit Nick says a daily blast of rain is not uncommon where as in New Jersey, we can have extended dry spells even though this summer has been fairly precipitation generous in New Jersey.
Lawns: Seems St. Augustine carpet grass is the dominating lawn cover in Florida. A dense, pretty drought tolerant grass that not only grows vertically but horizontally, making bed maintenance considerably more intense as one needs to regularly keep the spreading grass out of beds and paved edges/joints.
Most New Jersey lawns are of a Tall Fescue blend. These grasses are not as aggressive. New Jersey does have a small percentage of southern grasses, mostly zoysia and bermuda. These wiry grasses can have maintenance issues similar to Florida’s St. Augustine.
Lawn mowing in the New Jersey areas generally goes on a weekly basis from April to November/December. In Florida, the mowing goes year round though the winter months may only require 1to 2 mowings a month.
Insects: New Jersey may jokingly refer to the mosquito as the State Bird but Florida has its nuisances too. Picking up a timber from the ground introduced me to my first fire ant bites. Not pleasant, but you learn how to identify and avoid quickly.
Termites are another dominant Florida issue that needs constant prevention and check ups.
Mulches: New Jersey is heavy on shredded wood and cedar mulches. I’ve observed Florida beds are much more frequently mulched with stone and occasionally pine bark. This dominance of stone probably helps with minimizing cleanup of lighter tree based mulches that would float away after a quick in and out flood/rainstorm.
Trees: New Jersey has a wonderful variety of shade and ornamental trees with banging blasts of fall color. Florida has palms, palm trees and palms. I’m sure I’m not being totally fair here, but palm trees definitely dominated the landscape.
I was in awe when we cleaned up a palm by removing the previous year’s dead growth as well as the palm kernel seeds. The palm kernel seeds looked like giant bunches of grapes that must’ve weighed 35 pounds a bunch. I guess that’s why we see a lot of palm kernel oil in ingredient lists.
Winter: Florida’s big advantage. No walks to shovel, streets to plow, or ice melt to etch your concrete surfaces. New Jersey will generally have all the above to some degree each winter.
In closing, if you’re old and don’t like cold, the sunny state may be just great. For a broader range of variety, you may stay, in New Jersey.