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Your Florida-Friendly Landscaping Resolutions for 2020

News articles continue to identify the many challenges Florida faces in protecting our valuable and often fragile natural environment; challenges that range from the loss of natural habitats to growing stresses on the quality and quantity of our water resources. Often, it is tempting to feel that individuals cannot make a difference in meeting these challenges. The good news is that individuals can make very positive environmental impacts– right in our own yards! The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program offered by the University of Florida, and supported by your local Master Gardener Volunteers, can guide you in practices you can easily adopt in your landscape.

As you consider any New Year’s Resolutions, following are just a few resolutions for the concerned Florida-Friendly Gardener!

* I resolve this year to conserve water and help protect our water supplies by learning how to irrigate responsibly. To begin, I resolve to monitor my automatic sprinkler system, turning it off when it rains. In addition, I resolve also to check all sprinkler heads and to repair broken heads/pipes to avoid wasting water.

* I resolve this year to learn about environmentally friendly ways to manage pests and diseases in my landscape plants. To begin, I resolve to take inventory of all chemicals in my possession, learn if there are alternative pest/disease treatments, and learn how harmful practices, such as over-watering and over-fertilizing, increase pests and diseases.

* I resolve this year to recycle my yard waste. To begin, I resolve to leave grass clippings on the lawn to decompose and add nutrients. I also resolve to keep leaves and pine straw that fall on my property and use them as organic mulch. Maybe this is the year to begin composting; it’s fun and your plants will love it!

* I resolve this year to learn how fertilizers and other chemicals from my property travel to our water sources and cause pollution. To begin, I resolve not to blow grass clippings or leaves into the street. I resolve to learn the appropriate practices for the use of fertilizers in my landscape. Better yet, I resolve to explore the idea of planting a “buffer” bed of plants between sod and street, which will help filter chemicals before they leave my yard.

*I resolve this year to evaluate the possibility of reducing the amount of turfgrass in my landscape, and consider creating a plant bed to increase biodiversity in my yard. By adding native and Florida-Friendly trees, shrubs, grasses, and perennials, I will invite and support small wildlife such as birds, butterflies, pollinators and other creatures, as well as increase shade, color and beauty to my landscape.

*If I have waterfront property, I resolve to protect the quality of the body of water adjacent to my landscape. To begin, I resolve this year to create a buffer zone of native or Florida-Friendly plants to help filter pollutants that flow from landscapes toward bodies of water.

These are just a few ways in which we – as individuals – can help protect our natural resources, knowing that we are contributing to the stewardship of the earth. Maybe they seem like small actions, but as “they” say, every little bit helps!

All of these “gardener’s resolutions” (and more!) are covered in the guidelines of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program. Spread the word, and happy gardening in 2020!

This blog post was written by Master Gardener Volunteer Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Agent Anne Yasalonis.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk.  The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Visit us in person, give us a call, or email us at polkmg@ifas.ufl.edu.

If you are not in Polk County, Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic.

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida.  The program  extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

An Equal Opportunity Institution.

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