Spring in central Florida is a welcome sight even though we don’t have the typical winter that other parts of the country endure. Consistently warm temperatures and budding branches have us ready to work in our yards, particularly after multiple frosts and freezes this year. Whether you are tackling a large planting job, or just doing some routine spring maintenance, it is important that you follow the principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™.
What is Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and why is it important? Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is an integrated approach to landscape design, installation and maintenance. Following the principles can make creating and maintaining your landscape easier, can save you money, and will help you create both a beautiful and environmentally-friendly yard. A Florida-Friendly yard prevents erosion and runoff pollution, attracts wildlife and conserves water.
If you are doing a spring-time spruce up of your yard, consider adding the following items to your to-do list.
- Replenish mulch to 2-3 inches in all mulched beds. Use a recycled or by-product mulch such as oak leaves, pine straw, pine bark, melaleuca or eucalyptus mulch. This will help keep down weeds and create a neat and tidy appearance.
- Repair and calibrate your sprinkler system. It is the time of year to do an annual sprinkler system check-up. Turn on your system and check for broken heads, overspray and other problems. Calibrate (or measure) the output of your system by measuring how much water you are applying to your yard and make sure your time clock is accurate and your rain sensor is functioning. Follow the instructions on this helpful worksheet to calibrate your sprinkler system:
- As you prune your plants, consider adding the waste to a compost pile instead of piling it by the curb. This, combined with kitchen scraps, will break down to create a lovely garden amendment.
- Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and properly draining onto to the lawn or planting area. You may also want to consider installing a rain barrel to catch water for your potted plants, houseplants and other thirsty plants.
- Install Florida-Friendly plants. Look for native and low-maintenance plants to add to your landscape this spring.
- Clean your birdbath. Make sure your birdbath is ready for spring visitors!
If you are starting a large landscaping project that involves installing new plants, remember to follow the principle of Right Plant, Right Place. Right Plant, Right Place emphasizes choosing plants that match the site conditions found in your landscape. Proper planning can ensure your plants will thrive once they are established. After you determine the site conditions your new plants will be living in (soil type, sunlight, space) you can select plants to match. There are so many choices at the nursery so it is helpful to do some research before you go.
Utilize websites such as http://floridayards.org, http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu, and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. UF/IFAS Extension can also help. We offer landscape planning assistance and educational programs that focus on designing landscapes and selecting plants. Sign up for our classes at http://polkgardening.eventbrite.com.For more information contact us at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk.