Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter Water Conservation

With holidays in full swing, Florida winter is upon us.  The first day of winter is tomorrow, December 21.  Take some time to review our winter water conservation tips as cool weather approaches.  

A Poinsettia in the landscape.

If you are a part-time resident who has returned for the perfect Florida winter, here are some tips that may help refresh your landscape. 

  • Check your irrigation time clock.  Make sure that the current time and start times are accurate.  You will want to adjust your station run times to reflect the winter irrigation recommendations.  After calibrating your sprinkler system,  set the zones to water once every other week while the weather is cool.  Your plants (and lawn) grow more slowly in the winter months and don't need as much irrigation.  If you look for signs from your plants (wilting, folded leaf blades on grass) before you water.
  • Mulch.  Are there bare areas in your landscape?   It's a good time to replenish the mulch in your landscape beds.  It will help freshen-up your landscape and keep weeds down.  Look for by-product or recycled mulches such as pine bark, pine straw, eucalyptus, melaleuca or oak leaves.
  • If we do get a cold snap that causes some freeze damage to your plants, resist the urge to prune! The risk of freezing temperatures could be with us through February and the best time to prune freeze damaged plants is in March.
  • If you are going to be doing any landscaping while you are in town, refer to the information that UF/IFAS Extension has to offer.  Visit our demonstration gardens, read helpful literature, contact a Master Gardener or visit our website

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mulches for Central Florida Landscapes

Mulch is an essential part of every landscape and a principle of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL)program.  FFL recommends using organic mulches that will break down and add nutrients to the soil, unlike stone or gravel.  The benefits of mulch are numerous and maintaining a two-three inch layer of mulch will buffer soil temperatures and keep the soil cool.  Mulch will slow evaporation and decrease a plant's water needs.  It will inhibit weed growth, reduce erosion and improve the soil as it decomposes.  Don't forget the added bonus of the beauty that mulch will provide!  A properly mulched bed will make the landscape look neat and uniform as well as complement the plants.  

Here are the mulches recommended by the FFL program. 

Pine bark mulch

  • By-product of the timer/lumber industry
  • Good color retention

Pine straw mulch

  • Pine needles collected from the floor of pine plantations
  • Light brown color
  • Settles more quickly than other mulches
  • Needles tend to knit together making it a good mulch for sloped areas or areas that tend to wash

Eucalyptus mulch

  • Produced from trees grown for mulch in Florida plantations
  • Light red/brown color
  • Minimal settling over time

Melaleuca mulch

  • Produced from trees as a means of removing invasive exotic species
  • Mulch is heated to kill seeds
  • Good retention of brown color
  • Almost no settling over time
  • Most termite resistant mulch

Utility Mulch (from tree trimming services/utility companies)

  • Mixed species mulch
  • Varied colors
  • Minimal settling over time

Fallen Leaves
  • Free!
  • High in nutrients
  • Decomposes quickly 
Mixed Hardwood Mulch

  • Made from scrap lumber, pallets, etc.  
If you have any questions about mulching or where to purchase the recommended mulches contact us!

For more information: