Slow Gardening: The License to Loafe

Slow down, you move too fast

Do you ever feel like you are moving too fast, and you have a thousand things on your “to-do list?” It can be exhausting. We need to slow down a little bit. A recent statewide needs assessment with the University of Florida shows mental health as a growing concern among Floridians. For me, when I have too much on my plate, I become overwhelmed and anxious. My landscape, despite being a place to relax and calm down, too, can sometimes be overwhelming. I need to remind myself to slow down. Luckily, the FFL Program can give us the license to loafe.

Slowing down is valuable, and I am not being sarcastic like Eric Clapton’s “Slowhand” nickname. As Spring buds forth new growth, we easily become overwhelmed by the list of tasks within our gardens and landscapes. In the past, I have referred to myself as the “Lazy Gardener” because of my desire to focus on enjoying my landscapes more and working less. Research shows our gardens and landscapes are places of healing – especially with rising mental health concerns. Therefore, we should focus on managing our landscapes which allows us to slow down. This can be accomplished by following the landscape maintenance recommendations from the University of Florida extension’s Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program.

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program

The statewide FFL program promotes, “sustainable alternatives to ‘conventional’ landscaping, providing guidance on low impact, environmentally friendly, science-based landscape practices that use less water and reduce pollutant loading to Florida waters.”  You can accomplish this by following the program’s nine principles. The principles outline landscape management practices that include plant selection, pest management, fertilization recommendations, and even irrigation best management practices. The program’s science-based management recommendations serve as the basis for landscape management for homeowners, green industry professionals, and builders/developers.

Over-Loving the Landscape – The Three Common Problems

Annually, our office analyzes information we gathered through our community plant clinic to identify common landscape issues. The common issues in our landscapes are caused by:

  1. Overwatering,
  2. Over-fertilization,
  3. Excessive pesticide usage

These three common problems are all departures from recommended landscape management practices. These common issues lead to most of our county’s landscape issues. Proper management of landscapes significantly reduces the problems in our landscapes, which in turn, reduces the amount of required work and improves landscape aesthetics.

Right Plant, Right Place

Of the FFL Program’s nine principles, the first principle “Right Plant, Right Place,” is the most valuable. Following this principle allows our landscapes to thrive with minimal inputs. When we select plants that naturally thrive in the environment we intend to plant them, they will require less irrigation, pesticides, fertilizers, etc – allowing us to do less work and enjoy our landscapes more.

Loafe in the Garden w/ FFL

Take time this month to stop within your garden or landscape or spend some time outside. Sometimes we focus too much on tending the roses that we forget to stop to smell them. In these times I encourage everyone to slow down in the garden – let this be your license to loafe. In fact, I am reminded of Walt Whitman’s 1892 poem, Song of Myself, when he writes, “I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass; My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, hoping to cease not till death.”

An AI-generated photo of Walt Whitman sitting in a garden.
An AI-generated photo of Walt Whitman sitting in a garden.


Therefore, feel free to loafe in the garden and observe the blade of grass. Loafe in the garden by following the principles of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program and introduce yourself to slow gardening. You can soon find yourself enjoying your landscapes more and working less. Take this blog as permission from me, giving you the license to loafe with the FFL Program.  You can learn more about horticulture and the FFL programming principles by reaching out to our county extension office. If you have any questions about managing your gardens and landscapes, you may reach out to the Nassau County Master Gardener Volunteers at

More Information:

UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County

UF/IFAS Extension Blogs – Taylor Clem

Social Media:

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Posted: March 8, 2024

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Lawn, Natural Resources, Pests & Disease, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Fertilizer Responsibly, FFL Principles, FFL Program, Florida-Friendly, IPM, Manage Yard Pests, Right Plant Right Place, Water Efficiently

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