How To Keep Landscaping Florida-Friendly
In a word, the best way to keep your landscaping Florida-friendly year-round is planning. Initial planning helps get everything going, while on-going planning allows for adjustments if needed and maintenance to keep the landscape healthy and vibrant.
Caring for Native Plants in Florida
Right Plant, Right Place
When you use plants suitable for a specific area, their need for irrigation and fertilizer lessens and they’re more resistant to pests and pest infestations. By working with plants appropriate for the Florida landscape, there will be more time for enjoying it rather than maintaining and caring.
Use Fertilizer Appropriately
Follow the rates and application schedule for specific plants and trees if using fertilizer. Too much can cause excessive growth, invite unwanted pests, and runoff into watersheds and water supplies. Though excessive growth sounds like a great thing for plants and trees, you’ll spend more time maintaining this growth and money on increased water demands.
Be Responsible About Yard Pests
Before spraying chemicals across the landscaping to rid it of yard pests, try to mitigate chemical use by planning what to plant and undertaking proper maintenance. Chemicals may be necessary in some cases, but should be used as a last resort.
We’re never far from a body of water in Florida and having a Florida-friendly landscape is one way to protect a waterfront. Keep a 10-foot maintenance-free area between your landscape and a body of water to reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides entering the immediate watershed.
Grass clippings from mowing and plant trimmings are great sources for composting and reduce the need for commercial fertilizer use.
Save money and lower the risk of a pest infestation by using water efficiently. Plants should only be watered when showing signs of wilt and in the early morning. Remember to check an irrigation system regularly for clogs and leaks to prevent overwatering or substandard watering amounts.
Attracting birds, bees, bats, and other wildlife not only turns a lush landscape into their home, but many return the favor by consuming pest insects and pollinating flowers and plants.
Manage Stormwater Runoff
Stormwater can be collected in rain barrels or cisterns then used to water plants and trees. Rain gardens, porous pavers, swales and berms help keep stormwater contained to the landscaping and slowly seep into the ground rather than running off, carrying toxins and yard clippings into waterways and watersheds.
Adding mulch does more than create an even appearance. Mulch protects against:
- Soil erosion;
- Loss of soil moisture;
- Weed growth;
- Improves soil structure and aeration; and
- Reduces pesticide use.
Caring for Your Florida-Friendly Landscape
The hours put in reading, researching, and planning are well worth the final product when the landscape begins to come to fruition.
General Plant Information
When choosing plants and trees, there are several terms to know and keep in mind during the planning process.
This is the relative growth rate in cultivation.
- Slow Growth: Typical growth is less than six inches per year.
- Medium Growth: Typical growth is between six inches and three feet per year.
- Fast Growth: Typical growth is more than three feet per year.
Also called the nutritional requirements, this is the amount of nutrients a plant needs for growth.
- Low: No supplemental fertilization is needed under most landscaping situations.
- Medium: Light fertilization is needed for growth.
- High: Regular fertilization is needed for growth.
A plant’s light need is the relative light intensity needed for growth.
- Low Light: Deep shade or typical interior conditions.
- Medium Light: Light shade.
- High Light: Full sunlight.
When choosing any type of plant in Florida, its salt tolerance must be considered. This includes both salt spray and brackish irrigation water.
- Low Salt Tolerance: Intolerant to any salt on the foliage or roots.
- Medium Salt Tolerance: Can tolerate moderate amounts of salt.
- High Salt Tolerance: Can tolerate exposed coastal sites.
Plants that have been recently planted will have a lower tolerance to drought, regardless of the plant’s tolerance level.
- Low Drought Tolerance: Plant will either die or continuously wilt without regular irrigation.
- Medium Drought Tolerance: Plant requires some irrigation during drought conditions.
- High Drought Tolerance: Plant can survive during drought conditions without extra irrigation. Yet, it enjoys a little irrigation during the November through May dry season.
Flowers are an easy way to bring color and variety to any landscape. Florida’s subtropical climate allows many species to flourish year-round, though care is needed for them to stay lively.
Annuals are a common sight and provide color for a few months out of the year. But, it's important to know whether the annual is a warm or cool season variety. A warm season annual will be damaged by a frost or freeze whereas a cool season can't tolerate heat, humidity, and rainfall.
Keep in mind the light needs of an annual and how much or little light reaches where it would be planted. Annuals don’t thrive under heavy shade whereas only a few can tolerate a full dose of Florida sunshine every day.
Like perennials, prep work to the flowerbed will help any annual flourish after planting. Annuals can be planted directly into the soil or left in the container they came in then inserted into the ground.
Perennial flowers can bring a small pop or large burst of color to a garden or lawn year-round. Most perennials are low maintenance and need pruning and fertilizing once in awhile after establishment. That said, preparing the flowerbed for them takes a little planning and work. A sandy soil should have organic matter such as compost or peat added until the soil pH is between 5.5 and 6.5. Use at least two to three inches of organic mulch around the perennials after planting but not touching the perennials' base.
There is a variety of shrubs which are Florida-friendly and most are cold hardy, meaning the landscaping won’t look amiss after a freeze or frost. Shrubs should be planted in a space that has adequate soil space for both root expansion and top growth. Unfortunately most shrubs are planted too deeply and establishment and growth of the plant is affected.
Ground covers are often used to tie the appearance of a landscape together. These plants grow low to the ground, generally no more than one foot in height, and are perennials. Ground covers have several practical uses such as lowering ground temperature, reducing glare, and erosion control. They usually take around two years to establish, though the time before establishment needs regular irrigation, fertilization, and weed control. Two terms you’ll want to consider when choosing ground covers are ground cover density and ground cover longevity.
Ground Cover Density
The ground cover density is how well the plant covers the growing area horizontally and vertically to block from reaching the ground.
Ground Cover Longevity
Longevity for ground covers is the number of expected years it will grow without a renovation or replacement.
Training and pruning are key to caring for vines. Whether the vine you choose is clinging, twining, or sprawling, these sunseekers add a distinct dimension to any landscape. Periodic pruning helps keep any vine from becoming unruly. In northern Florida, vines should be a cold-hardy variety due to cooler winters. If planted during the fall and winter months, the roots will have time to establish themselves before the warm growing months begin.
Whether you envision a handful of ornamental trees throughout or a stately live oak several decades down the road, trees are a popular addition to any landscape. How well the tree can establish itself and is cared for soon after planting plays a crucial role in its health and lifespan. To establish the roots, water a tree often after planting and help it gain strength by creating a structural pruning plan soon after its planted. This will ensure one main trunk rather than competing stems attempting to divert nutrients and water away from the whole.
Palms & Cycads
There are 11 species of palm trees native to Florida, but nearly all the 2,500 species known globally can grow in the state. Palms need aerated and properly fertilized soil to grow and thrive, with the bulk of its nutrients coming from the top soil. New palms need water twice a week during its first six months after planting but may be scaled back depending on climate, season, and rainfall frequency after that point. A palms’ roots should have special care as its roots don’t grow deep into the soil. Instead the bulk of a palms’ growth comes from the terminal bud at the top of the trunk.
Cycads are a distant relative of palms yet are commonly called palms. To care for a cycad, it needs to be planted in a well-drained soil that is also slightly acidic. The Florida zamia, also called coontie, is found throughout the state as it grows well in sun or shade.
Choosing the best type of grass for a specific landscape is the best way to have Florida-friendly landscaping. To keep it healthy, only mow as needed and to seasonal growth recommendations, along with following watering guidelines.
Wear tolerance is how well the grass or turf stands up to repeated traffic, such as from people or vehicles.
Like most plants, grasses have a certain level of shade tolerance although most enjoy soaking up the Florida sunshine.
This is the width and coarseness of the grass blades. A fine-textured grass may look better, but it will require more maintenance to keep up its appearance.
Once a Florida-friendly landscape has been planned and established, it’s time to keep it looking fabulous with regular maintenance. The frequency of landscaping services needed depends on the plants selected and how much care is given between maintenance appointments. If the plants grow rapidly and your everyday schedule doesn’t allow extra time for trimming and pruning, it could be well-worth hiring a landscaping company such as Evergreen Lawn Care to periodically maintain the landscape.
Importance Of Landscaping Maintenance
The underlying reason to continually maintain landscaping is health. The flowers, shrubs, trees, and anything else planted quickly deteriorate once weeds, disease, and fungi start to grow. Before long, what was once lush and attractive is lackluster at best. Through proper landscaping maintenance, there are many benefits for everyone to enjoy.
Landscaping Maintenance Benefits Everyone
A good-looking landscape does more than look good. Plants stay happy and healthy, inviting birds, butterflies, squirrels, and other wildlife to rest and recharge among the plants and shrubs. Pollinators such as bees take advantage of a maintained landscape by doing their part to keep flowers blooming and growing.
If you’re looking to sell a home or business, a maintained landscape increases its curb appeal, help it sell faster, and increase the market value. On the other hand, the more grass, trees, and plants around concrete or asphalt, such as a sidewalk or driveway, the greater a natural cooling effect they have during hot temperatures. Studies have shown green spaces such as a manicured lawn reduce stress and lower blood pressure for people who are around them.
Choosing A Landscaping Company
Working with a landscaping company who will listen to your vision and explain how the process will work is the first step in having a Florida-friendly landscape. Evergreen Lawn Care has the years of experience and training needed to give your lawn a Florida-friendly edge.
Know Your Needs
What is it you’d like to have done to your landscape? Is it a wholesale change or just have a landscaping company tackle the abandoned flowerbed in the backyard? Specialists and companies who specialize in areas such as fertilizing, planting, or tree trimming may be better suited for one or two specific projects rather than a wholesale change project. An all-purpose landscape business can handle multiple projects or recurring maintenance.
Research & Ask Questions
While most people start their search online and reference online reviews before calling about landscaping services, don’t forget to ask neighbors, friends, and family members if they’d recommend any particular company. Once you’ve put together a list of possible companies, ask specific questions such as how long they’ve been in business and what their experience is with projects similar to what you have in mind.
Find Out Their Methods & Timing Of Projects
While you’re speaking with a company, find out how they would carry out the project. Can they speak to appropriate techniques, materials, and tools needed to complete it? Don’t be afraid to dig into information for the project before speaking with a company to compare what you found against what they’re telling you. Also, ask how long they expect the project to last once they’re able to begin.