Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for True Floridians

Let's make 2013 the year we kick our bad gardening habits and embrace gardening like the Floridians we are now, no matter where we came from or how we got here.

So fellow Sunshine Staters, back away from the power tools and pesticides, take a deep breath, and repeat after me: 

-- I WILL remove a small section of grass in my yard and replace it with... NO, not rocks!! How about a curvy bed of shrubs and groundcovers, or a colorful butterfly garden, a small water feature, or even a flagstone or pea gravel pathway?  

Curving walkways like this one featured on the 2012 Native Landscape Tour in Pinellas add visual interest to a landscape. Remember: there are very few straight lines in Nature!
-- I WILL remember rain doesn't water fertilizer in, it washes it away, straight into our bays, lakes, rivers and the Gulf of Mexico. I WON'T use fertilizer in the summer, and I WILL use slow-release fertilizer the rest of the year to prevent water pollution.

-- I WILL use the Right Plant in the Right Place. I WON'T be taken in by all those pretty plants in the nursery or garden center that rope me into those impulse buys. Instead, I will do my homework first, so I buy only the pretty ones that will actually thrive in the growing conditions they'll face in my yard.

-- I WILL plant at least one native plant in my landscape this year.
Native Dotted horsemint
(Monarda punctata) 

-- I WILL have my lawn mower blade sharpened this year, and make sure the blade is set at the right height for my grass (3-4" for St. Augustine) so my long-suffering lawn won't be scalped like a Parris Island recruit. Booyah!!

-- I WILL finally learn how to use the timer on my irrigation system so I can turn it OFF when I don't need to water every week, such as during winter when grass is dormant, or summer when it rains all the time.

 -- I WILL learn to love mulch with abandon, except for cypress mulch. I WON'T buy that, because it's made from cypress trees that Mother Nature needs in her swamps.

-- I WON'T scream and run for the poison when I see a bug (even a Big! Hairy! Spider!) in my garden. I WILL remember that 99% of all insects are either beneficial to us, or harmless to us, including spiders.

Reprinted from an article I wrote for the December issue of the Be Floridian newsletter

   So, which of these resolutions are you ready to tackle in this new year? How many have you already checked off in your landscape?
Happy New Year from our Bay-Friendly Landscape to Yours!