Learn About a Friendlier Way to Care for Your Yard

by DAVID AUSTIN, UF/IFAS Highlands County

You’ve most likely heard of the adage of killing something with kindness. Have you ever killed a plant with kindness? I find people are more likely to kill a houseplant by over-watering than underwatering. When you overwater, the plant may wilt in response to being saturated, which impedes the ability to take up more water, so it remains wilted. Then, you water more out of kindness, and the response worsens. Sometimes, the cycle continues until the plant’s demise. In your well-meaning way, you may have killed your plant with kindness. Your lawn may also respond to what you might think is kindness, and the results might be detrimental.  

People often come to our Master Gardener Volunteer Help Desk at the Extension Service office at 4509 George Blvd. in Sebring to learn how to eliminate the weeds in their lawns. One common reason for too many weeds is overwatering.  Overwatering promotes shallow roots, which in turn make for weak grass. Weak grass makes for more weeds. Other bad cultural practices can cause the sod to perform poorly and invite pests and disease. The same thing can happen in your landscaping. Being environmentally friendly shouldn’t mean more work for you, but less work. 

Promoting healthy landscaping and lawns is what Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is all about. On April 18 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the UF/IFAS, Highlands County will offer a free morning class called the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Talk and Tour. Participants will learn about the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, followed by a tour through Robbins Nursery South. We will look at about 40 Florida-Friendly plants and discuss their use in the landscape. Call the Extension office at (863) 402-6540 to get the registration link. The class is free, but we need to know how many chairs we must bring from the Agriculture Center, so please register. 

When you attend the class, you will be surprised at what you can do to change the dynamic of your yard. The Florida-Friendly yard will be easier to maintain with fewer inputs such as water and fertilizer.  You can adjust things like mowing height and using mulching blades to recycle nutrients. Using mulch for better soil health while decreasing the amount of sod in your yard is all part of The Florida-Friendly way. The result should save you time and be easier on your wallet. 

Florida-Friendly Landscaping ™ was developed and trademarked by the University of Florida and is one of their premier programs. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at davidaustin@ufl.edu. That’s what’s happening with horticulture in Florida’s Heartland. You can follow me on Facebook at Hometown Gardener

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