Basics of Landscaping in Florida–Bilingual Booklet in the UF/IFAS Bookstore

This booklet has concepts side-by-side in English and Spanish  for effective team communication.

Better landscaping practices are good for Florida! Even though Florida has a lot of water resources, there are also a lot of people and industries sucking from the tap…and more keep coming. Long story short, Floridians need to conserve clean water so we always have enough affordable water now and into the future.

How we landscape makes a difference, and decades of scientific research demonstrates ways to do it better! If we don’t, drinking water could get a lot more expensive and natural areas could decline. Our tourism based economy circulates around water, and agriculture, the foundation of our economy, needs water to grow the domestic specialty crops that feed America each winter. Let’s not forget about drinking, cooking, and cleaning, the human stuff we do each day!

Guess what? Good landscaping starts with the basics. No one should expect poorly installed plants to thrive. No amount of pesticides or fertilizers will fix the wrong plant in the wrong place.

The palm on the left is severely over-pruned.

So what are the basics of landscaping in Florida and why does it matter?

Did you know that we can use less water and grow nicer lawns just by mowing the grass at the correct height?

Did you know that some trees get planted with a death sentence simply because they were installed too deep?

Did you know it is better not to hack crape myrtles each winter?

Sometimes it is not just about bigger blooms… our landscapes can mitigate our intensive human activities if we allow them to help! Landscapes are typically more affordable than manmade interventions; they are pretty, and they provide exponential benefits starting with a real calming effect on people in proximity to green space. Ah-mazing!

Get this pocket-sized, waterproof booklet to learn the basics of landscaping in Florida: Basics of Landscaping in Florida/Conceptos Básicos de Paisajismo en Florida

Trust me or ask more questions! While there are not laws that cover landscape basics, there are reasons certain practices are the “best practices.”

Decades of scientific research have demonstrated that mowing the grass at the correct height corresponds with rooting depth, and deeper roots means more access to water and nutrients, which means your turf can struggle through the dry season without irrigating more than what the utility allows. As long as your irrigation system is calibrated, your dense turf will return with the rainy season.

While crapes can certainly handle a brutal hacking, there are many reasons not to. First, power tools are more dangerous and expensive to operate.

The crape myrtles on the right are providing more benefits by mitigating the heat island effect providing shade and CO2 uptake in the city. The hacked crapes on the left are not provided that same opportunity to help cool the city 🙁

Next, we have a heat issue that is solved with shade solutions. Crape myrtles can provide more shade sooner when they are minimally pruned. Shade reduces temperatures locally, which is good for people and cooler roadways. More shade means more leaves, and more leaves means more photosynthesis, which means more air purification, which means more carbon dioxide uptake. Finally, removing larger limbs to be driven to the dump to decompose into eventual carbon dioxide contributes to more labor, road degradation, and ultimately, climate change. Maybe more than anything, increasing worker safety and reducing maintenance costs of cutting and driving heavy wood to the dump is compelling enough to reduce the crape murder. Society pays the price elsewhere with road repairs due to heavier trucks, heat being the deadliest natural disaster, and the cost of electricity increasing, so that even with AC, we are paying for the oppressive heat.

We have a lot of pavement to deal with. Green spaces mitigate flooding and trees provide cooling shade. As we grow our populations and communities, we must also grow plants.

Florida friends, let’s protect this paradise so we all can keep thriving! As we get 1000 new Floridians per day, let’s also make sure our new neighbors know how to protect paradise, too. Focus on the basic best practices before we get stuck with the bill for pricier manmade solutions that are not as pretty as plants.

This booklet will benefit almost anyone in Florida working with landscapes in any capacity including landscape professionals, residents, parks departments, community planners, land developers, big box stores selling plants, nursery growers, and environmental departments working to maintain water quality standards. This booklet can also help community leaders and elected officials learn basic ways that plants can help mitigate community problems… if we let them!

Thank you to the team of UF/IFAS Extension authors and contributors from UF/IFAS, UGA and NC State! Thank you to the USDA NIFA IPM Extension Grant that funded the project. Thanks to the scientists doing research decades before us, and our Deans and Directors that support us. Thank you to the UF/IFAS Bookstore and Communications team. Thank you Orange, Seminole, and Alachua County Governments for supporting Extension education.

Thank you, the Floridians, for getting educated about keeping our green and blue spaces dazzling!

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” ~George Washington Carver


Posted: June 6, 2024

Category: AGRICULTURE, Blog Community, , Coasts & Marine, Conservation, Disaster Preparation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, HOME LANDSCAPES, Home Management, Horticulture, Lawn, Money Matters, Natural Resources, Pests & Disease, Pests & Disease, Turf, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension, Water, Wildlife, WORK & LIFE
Tags: Alachua, Alachua Co, Basics Of Landscaping, Best Practice, Best Practices, Big Box, Big Box Stores Selling Plants, Bilingual, BMP, BMPs, Ceu Continuing Education, Cflandscapes, Community Leaders, Community Planners, Crape Myrtle, Cultural Ipm, Elected Officials, Epd, EPDs, FFL, Flooding, Florida, Florida Friendly, Florida-friendly Landscape, Heat, Heat Island, Heat Islands, How To Landscape, Hwooten, IPM, Land Developers, Landscape, Landscape Professionals, Landscaper, Landscapes, Mow, Mowing, Nursery Growers, Orange, Orange Co, Palm, Parks Departments, Planner, Planners, Prune, Pruning, Residents, Seminole, Seminole Co, Spring, Springs, Turf, Uf Ifas Uf Ifas Bookstore, Usda, Water, Water Quality, Water Quantity

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