Friday, August 24, 2012

Preparing Your Landscape for a Hurricane

As Hurricane Issac moves closer to Florida, people have begun preparing for high winds and rain.  You may buy some extra bottled water or stock up on batteries and canned goods, but how do you prepare your landscape?  The biggest worry in the landscape during a high wind event is the trees and palms.  Proper pruning from a young age is the best way to maintain a healthy tree that will fare well during a hurricane.  Never "hurricane prune" any of your trees or palms as it has been shown that this type of pruning actually causes more damage.  Hurricane pruning can weaken trees and palms causing limbs to break, trees to fall, or crowns of palms to snap off.  Always look for a certified arborist to prune your trees and use the following guides to help determine what type of pruning your trees need.  If they do sustain wind damage these guides will help you best determine how to properly restore your trees after a hurricane. 

Assessing Damage and Restoring Trees After a Hurricane


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Backyard Gardener's Festival and Plant Sale

Saturday, October 6, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service, 1702 US Hwy 17 South, Bartow
The Polk County Master Gardeners present this annual festival. Workshops will be offered throughout the day. Free information about gardening and landscaping. Free soil testing. Purchase Florida-Friendly plants, rain barrels, books, melaleuca mulch and yard art. For more information call (863) 519-8677.

Workshop schedule:
9:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m. Florida Friendly Plants
10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Growing Vegetables and Herbs
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Gardening to Attract Wildlife
12:30 p.m.- 1:15 p.m. Composting with Worms

Friday, August 17, 2012

How to Grow Your Own Vegetables

Growing Vegetables Workshop
Saturday, August 25, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service, 1702 US Hwy 17 South, Bartow, Stuart Center
Traditional and non-traditional vegetable gardening will be discussed including container gardening, hydroponic gardening, in ground gardening and organic gardening. Identification and control of pests and diseases will also be discussed. Call (863) 519-8677 to register. This workshop is free of charge.

Spreading Heliotrope

Spreading Heliotrope is a beautiful, yet underused, spreading groundcover.  As you can see from the photograph, it can grow in a very hot, dry location.  It is covered in purple flowers all summer and attracts butterflies.  It will freeze back during the winter months, but will come back as the weather warms.  Look for Spreading Heliotrope at your local nursery or come and see it growing in the demonstration garden at the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Landscape Design--Getting Artistic!

Finally have another landscape design post! Sorry for the delay!


After you have your property on paper, it is time to have fun and get creative with your landscape design!  You have your landscape use zones defined and now it is time to use the design principles to make your landscape YOU.
Your landscape plan to-do list:
1.   Create bed, hardscape and grass lines (experiment on draft paper first).
2.  Add trees to the plan by creating large circles to represent the shade of the mature tree
3.   Add plants to your landscape plan.  Do this by drawing circles that will represent the   mature size of the plant.  If you draw a to-scale circle of six feet, you can later decide on a plant that will grow up to six feet for that space.
4.   Determine what forms and textures you want to use in your planting beds.  Look for plants that will fit those criteria—and remember they need to be Florida-Friendly too!
You can do all four items listed above without choosing specific plants!  Wait until you have all your plant forms, hardscapes and a color scheme determined before you choose plant types.
The elements of design are what will help you to organize your plants and hardscape areas in a way that it is pleasing to you.  Line, form, texture and color make up the elements of design.  You will combine these elements and arrange them using the principles of design (listed below).  The principles of design are the way that you organize the elements of design.  Confused yet? Let’s clarify. 
Line.  Line is what is used throughout your landscape to create a feeling of movement and define a space.  Lines can give your landscape a feeling of formality (lots of straight lines) or a natural feeling (curved lines).  Experiment with the outlines of planting beds, hardscape areas (patios, walkways), and lawn areas on your paper.  Combine lines to create the outline of your landscape.  Once you have this on paper, you can use the other elements to further create the feeling you want in your landscape. 

Lines in a landscape plan
Form.  As you will notice, it is important to use all of the elements together to create your landscape.  Using certain forms in combination with certain lines will further enhance a feeling of formality or nature in your landscape.  Forms are essentially shapes in the landscape. Formal forms tend to be geometric-circles, rectangles.  Natural forms use line to create fragmented and organic edges.  Plant forms will also come in to play.   Use vertical plant forms to create height and horizontal plant forms to create width.  Combine plants to create masses for more visual impact.  Individual plant forms also create feelings in the landscape. Upright, geometric plant forms lend to a more formal landscape while sprawling and irregular forms give another feeling entirely.  You will know what plant forms are most attractive to you.  Combine your favorites to create interest in your landscape. 

Landscape forms (circles)

Plant forms

Texture.  Use texture to create variety, interest and contrast in your garden.  You will combine different textures in the same way you combine different forms in your landscape.  Texture can also affect perception.  If you have a small yard that you want to look larger, place your coarse textured plants in the front of the planting bed and the fine textured plants in the back. Do the reverse to make your yard seem smaller or more intimate. 
Color.  Color, just like all other elements of design, is a personal choice.  Everyone has their favorites and the aesthetics of your landscape design should make you happy as well as fit the landscape parameters of your neighborhood and region.  There are many different color schemes you may wish to enjoy.  Monochromatic (all one color), analogous (colors adjacent on the color wheel) and complimentary (across each other on the color wheel) are the color schemes to consider.  And remember that plants aren’t the only place that color is used in the landscape.  Buildings and hardscapes are part of the color scheme as well.  If you are having trouble combining colors in your landscape consider creating a color study. You can use colored pencils or crayons to lightly shade your planting areas on the plan to make sure they work together like you would like them to.  The colors may refer to flower or foliage color and remember that sometimes the color is only seasonal. 

Color Study

And now on to the principles...
The principles of design dictate how you should organize the elements of design in your landscape.  They focus on repeating elements throughout the landscape and creating a calm, unified landscape. 
Principles of Design
Proportion-Make sure your plants and trees are in proportion to your home.  For example, a 50 foot tall tree right next to a one-story house is not in proportion. 
Order-Best described as balance.  Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.  Choose what you like best.
Repetition-Repeat some of the landscape elements throughout the landscape.  ”Not too much, but not too little” repetition is ideal, but sometimes it is hard to determine what that is!  You can repeat plants around the yard, repeat shapes or hardscape textures in a couple different places.  This repetition will tie your landscape together and highlight the focal points. 
Unity-Just like repetition, unify your landscape by choosing odd numbers of plants, repeating features and eliminating clutter.
Don’t be discouraged by the number and detail of the elements of design and design principles.  It is important to familiarize yourself with them and try to think about them (and the FFL principles) while creating your design, but don’t feel pressured to follow them all to a T.  The best idea is to find inspiration in other landscapes and try and mimic what you like in your own landscape. 
Look through magazines and books, visit demonstration gardens or find local landscapes that you like for inspiration.   Landscape with your site conditions in mind (remember that site inventory?) and always remember low maintenance is key. 
In the next post we will discuss choosing plant material and mulch.  This is the last step in the design process.  Your plan should be coming together and you will soon have a usable design and a plant list for your fall plant shopping!

Bog Garden at the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service

Have you visited the new bog garden at the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service? The beautiful bog garden serves as an example of native aquatic plants that homeowners can use to restore lakefronts, stormwater ponds and in backyard water gardens.  The gardens are open to the public.  Stop by and check out the bog and surrounding gardens to get ideas for your yard--it's almost time for fall planting! 

Bog garden during construction
Bog garden, August 2012
Blooming Lotus