by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
Perhaps we spend too much time concerned with what’s wrong in our landscapes. Though, we can learn from our mistakes. It’s helpful to identify why a plant failed or gain correct identification for a weed in order to better control it.
Maybe we should spend more time learning why other plants performed so well.
Could it be because we finally planted the right variety of tomato for Florida? Maybe we finally planted the right plant in the right place. Or perhaps, by chance, we chose the correct fertilizer. Maybe our lawn improved because we raised the mowing height. Or, maybe we started irrigating on an as needed basis instead of drowning our landscape.
Sometimes we can learn from others. Pay attention to plants that do well in your neighborhood. You may notice a flowering annual that really stood out in someone’s landscape. Or maybe, you observed a tree or shrub that performed unusually well over the years. You might see a groundcover growing under a shade tree that appears to be a much better choice as compared to the thinning lawn grass under your shade tree. Take time to find out the name of these plants. But make sure, if you plan to use them in your landscape, to also find out what they like and where they like to grow. Many times we fail with plants simply by placing a perfectly good plant in the wrong place.
We do not have to “reinvent the wheel” when choosing the right plants for Florida or guess about the cause of brown areas in our lawns or be at the mercy of the self-appointed horticulture guru of the neighborhood. You do not have to use your lawn, landscape and garden areas as an experiment. The research has already been done for you. As a Floridian, you have a wealth of information available through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
There is a UF/IFAS Extension Office close to you, in your County. You can find the Extension Office nearest you through the Solutions for Your Life website (http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu). On the home page, click on the “Local Offices” tab.
You’ll also find a wealth of reliable, research based help on all sorts of lawn, landscape and gardening topics. Other Extension program area topics found on this site include agriculture, environment, family and consumer info, sustainable living, 4-H youth development and disaster prep and recovery.
Speaking of disaster prep and recovery, you may be interested in viewing recent video posts on being prepared for a storm provided by Okaloosa County Extension. These are available at http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2016/07/08/are-you-prepared-for-a-storm.