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planting in the garden

Gardening tasks during a time of social distancing

mulching around a tree

Mulching around a tree. Photo credit: Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension

It can be hard to think of things to do when social distancing, but remember, you can still be alone (or with your family) while outside! There are plenty of things you can do in your own yard that can be calming, satisfying, and leave you with a sense of accomplishment.  This time in the garden can also give you time to listen to nature, clear your head and make observations about the natural world–not to mention, the weather is lovely!

Here’s what can do:
  1. Oak leaves still falling? Rake them up and use them for mulch or in your compost bin.
  2. Weed your landscape beds. Clean up landscape beds by hand-weeding.  This is a relaxing job with very satisfying results!
  3. Prune as needed.  If you have any spring-flowering shrubs that are done flowering, you can prune them now.  Also, you may have some other light pruning tasks that can be performed at this time. You can prune trees, but follow UF/IFAS guidelinesparticularly with crapemyrtles!
  4. Do you save seeds? It’s the time of year to start beans, peppers, squash, and corn. It’s not raining daily, so mulch your vegetable garden and add compost to retain moisture.
  5. While you’re at it…consider installing a microirrigation system in your vegetable garden. There are some very easy-to-use systems that can be connected to your outdoor spigot. You can use microirrigation in your vegetable garden, landscape beds, and in container plantings.
  6. Watch for pests and learn to identify them.  While you are out in the yard, look for insects and “funny looking things on leaves”.  Can you figure out what they are?  Use Featured Creatures to identify insects. If you see things that you aren’t sure of, you can still use our Plant Clinic. Email us photos and let us know some information–what plant is affected, how do you care for it, have you recently watered/fertilized/apply pesticides?

What are you doing in your yard? Share with us by leaving a comment below.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at  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

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.

One Comment on “Gardening tasks during a time of social distancing

  1. Nice posting. I have more time caring for my garden on these days of being social distancing. Thanks for sharing such helpful tips.