1. Local Weather

Tips for rescuing flooded lawns and gardens

Flooding suffocates your lawn, but not if the water is drained away after a few days, which is the case in the majority of the Tampa Bay area, said Nicole Pinson of the Hillsborough County Extension Service.

She offered these tips for flood-damaged lawns and gardens in the aftermath of stormy weather:

• Turn off your irrigation system so that it doesn't automatically start sprinkling on your already sodden lawn.

• Grass should start growing again when standing water is drained and will need to be mowed as usual once the ground starts to dry up. If you let the grass grow too high it could be damaged if you come along and clip more than a third of it in one mowing.

• Turf exposed to saltwater should be doused thoroughly with fresh water to wash it away. Some grasses are not damaged by saltwater flooding, however. Check with your local nursery, garden store, or Extension Service. Wash plants with clean water to remove all traces of contaminated floodwater.

• Prune or saw broken tree branches back to major limbs or the main trunk, making clean, even cuts.

• Don't fertilize; it will just get washed away in the next rain anyway.

• Be mindful that the areas under shady trees will take longer to dry out, so adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly to avoid over-watering and encouraging fungus.

• Remove fallen trees and debris to allow sunlight to get through to grass roots. If there is a lot of silt, the fine particles will lock out air and light. Remove silt that is more than a few inches deep with a flat shovel and streams of fresh water.