Sharon Vollmer is the Urban Forester for Coconut Creek and a native of Broward County. She has been engaged in the horticulture industry, full-time, for over 32 years. She is a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, a certified landscape inspector with the Landscape Inspectors Association of Florida, and a National Wildlife Federation Habitat Steward.

Over the years, we have heard many statements from homeowners about the care of their lawn and landscaping. Some information is passed along through generations but is not always accurate. To help you distinguish fact from fiction, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common myths and misconceptions about landscaping in a two-part series. Next month, we’ll present the second part of this series with five more facts.

Myth: I need to water my lawn nearly every day to keep it healthy.

Truth: Light, frequent watering is inefficient and encourages shallow root systems, which reduces the turf’s overall stress tolerance and ability to survive the dry season or times of drought. Overwatering increases the lawns susceptibility to disease, thatch build-up and certain weeds. Irrigation systems should be adjusted for the seasons. During the rainy season, the irrigation system can be turned off if sufficient rainfall is occurring. During our dry season, follow the year-round watering schedule of two days per week.

Myth: Most palms are native to Florida.

Truth: There are thousands of different species of palms throughout the world; however, there are only 11 palm species that are native to Florida. Of those, only six or seven are both generally used in our landscapes and are commercially available. On the other hand, there are more than 275 trees native to Florida, including live oak, laurel oak, bald cypress, pond cypress, and slash pine, which were commonly found in this area, pre-development.

Myth: Moss, bromeliad or lichen are killing my tree.

Truth: There are many epiphytic plants that grow on our trees and palms here. Epiphytes are plants that grow on the surface of other plants, using them for support, but obtain their water and nutrients from the air and rain. They are not parasites and will not kill the tree or palm.

Myth: Tree roots are deep; most trees have a taproot.

Truth: People are usually surprised to learn that tree roots are mainly in the top three feet of soil, with the majority of the finer roots in the top 12 inches. Many trees never develop tap roots, particularly when the water table is high and the soil is compacted, which describes our situation here pretty well. And remember: tree roots need oxygen; readily available oxygen is closest to the surface.

Myth: Tree roots stay mainly within the dripline of the tree.

Truth: In reality, roots can grow two to three times the distance of the canopy. Envision for a moment, a wine glass resting on a dinner plate—the wine glass represents the tree and the dinner plate represents the roots. As the dinner plate far exceeds the coverage of the wine glass, so, too, can the roots extend well beyond the edge of the dripline of a tree.