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New Home, New Landscape

Moving into a new home can be an adventure.  There are probably many things you love about the house but also many things you wish to change.  The same thing goes with a new landscape.  You may love the yard for the great towering oak trees, but find out that you cannot grow grass beneath them.   This may be one of the many changes you wish to make, but take the time to find the one most suited for you and your landscape.  Doing it right from the beginning will save you time, money and maintenance costs as your landscape matures.  Here are three tips that a new homeowner with an existing landscape should follow to maintain a beautiful and low maintenance landscape.

  1. Retain vs. Remove:

There  may be many things in the landscape that you wish to remove.  They may be high maintenance, planted in the wrong place or not to your liking.  The first thing to do is analyze your landscape and figure out what goes and what stays.  You may wish to sketch yourself a plan with the plants you wish to retain.  Working with a sketch will help you when you are ready to replace those plants.  Remember to retain and protect native plant material and get rid of any plants listed as invasive by UF/IFAS.

  1. Time to Replant; Right Plant Right Place:

When you finally decide to make that first trip to the nursery (sketch in hand!) you should have some idea of what you are going to purchase.  Before you pick out that shrub, perennial or tree make sure you know where you are going to put it.  Also be familiar with the site conditions throughout your yard.  Is the plant going to be in a sunny or shady location? Is the soil very sandy or does it stay wet?  How is the drainage? Are there structural limitations you must take into consideration such as power lines or roof overhangs?

Drought tolerance and maintenance are also some things you may want to take into consideration before purchasing a plant.  Just how much time and money do you want to spend on that plant? If the answer is “not much”, go with a Florida-Friendly plant and make sure you follow the Right Plant, Right Place principle.

  1. Plant it Right!

Now that you have purchased some plants it is important to plant them correctly.  Here are some tips on planting a plant:

  • Look up.  If there is something that may get in the way of the canopy as it grows, plant your tree somewhere else.
  • Dig your hole the right way. The planting hole should be about 1 ½ to 3 times the width of the root ball. Break up any compacted soil around the hole so that the roots can spread.
  • When you remove the plant from the container if there seem to be a lot of circling roots it is recommended that you shave the periphery of the root ball so that they don’t continue to circle.
  • When you have the root ball placed in the planting hole, make sure the point where the surface roots emerge from the trunk are at, or slightly above the soil line.  Fill the area around the root ball with soil.  Do not place soil on top of the root ball.  It is not necessary to add amendments.
  • When the hole is filled, add water to fill any air pockets. You may need to add additional soil after this step.
  • Add mulch 2-3 inches deep taking care not to push it up against the base of the plant.
  • Make sure to give your plant frequent irrigation during establishment.

The main thing to remember when you are faced with the task of re-landscaping is to take your time.  Careful planning and research will eliminate problems in the landscape that will require additional money and time.  Working with an existing landscape is great because the framework is already there.  If you aren’t sure where to start, live with your landscape for a few months and then you will begin realize the changes you want to make.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041.  Our Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm.

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