By B.J. Jarvis
Pasco County Extension Director
Let’s face it. Most of us don’t want to be a slave to our landscape. While we enjoy the fresh air, exercise and the results of our hard work, nothing is more frustrating than a landscape that demands more time than we can give to keep it lush.
Fussing with the bugs, pruning and fertilizing are only fun for so long under the hot summer sun. Gardeners who want a fabulous landscape can create it in a way that minimizes the time and effort to make and maintain.
What gardeners are looking for is a Florida-Friendly Landscape™. Maintaining properties in a Florida-friendly way incorporates environmentally appropriate planting and maintenance practices, which include:.
How to put right plants in the right places
How to water efficiently
How to fertilize appropriately,
Proper mulching techniques
How to attract desirable wildlife
How to recycle
How to reduce storm water runoff
How to protect the waterfront
A healthy, lower-maintenance home landscape starts by putting the right plants in the right places. Plant choices should match a site’s soil, light, water and climatic conditions. Working with the pre-existing conditions and not against them generally results in healthier, stress-free plants.
For example, if your property is devoid of trees or other shade makers, don’t expect to be successful with plants that prefer shade. For more information on the right plants for central Florida, visit www.floridayards.org/fyplants.
Whether sun or shade, wet or dry conditions, take stock of the existing site conditions before adding any new plants. Start by observing the landscape. Is it shady only in the morning or most of the day? Does the water stand in certain spots long after most other areas have dried up following rain? All these elements are important when selecting the right plants.
For plants near the house, be sure plant selection or placement does not prevent being able to see out your windows or walk on the sidewalk without relentless pruning. A great plant improperly placed can create a maintenance nightmare.
With all the damage to our winter-weary landscaping, there is bound to be a trip to the local garden center to fill a few holes. With a list of site conditions in hand, you can confidently choose garden center plants that will not just tolerate the site, but thrive in these conditions.
Planting based on the right plant for the right spot pays big dividends in the landscape. Properly placed plants tend to have fewer insect infestations and disease problems, require less pruning and usually need replacing less often due to winter hardiness problems.
For more information on creating an attractive and lower-maintenance Florida-friendly landscape in 2010, e-mail me for a free colorful, step-by-step guide at .
– Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer only and not that of the publisher.
B.J. Jarvis is horticulture agent and director of the Pasco Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Florida and Pasco County government. She can be reached at
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