Landscaping for Beauty and Savings
Landscaping accounts for about 50 percent of all residential water use in Florida. Follow these tips to keep your yard looking good while saving water and money.
Have your soil analyzed
Contact the Alachua County Extension Office
for an analysis of soil from different areas of your yard. Knowing the acidity
or alkalinity level in your soil will help you select plants that work best
in your yard.
Plan your landscape for aesthetics and conservation
Investigate your yard and determine:
- Where are the sunny and shady areas
- Where are the wet and dry areas
- How will various sections of the yard be used
- What will be the size of mature plants
Choose proper plants with low watering needs
Use native plants, as they are accustomed to the climate and require very little care or watering. Group all plants by their requirements:
- Sun, shade or partial sun/shade
- Acidic or basic soil type
- Water and fertilizing needs
- Cold or heat tolerance
Use grass wisely
Grass is your yard's biggest water user. Limit its use and save it for areas where children or pets play.
- Apply the right amount of water at the right time.
- Place turf areas and planting beds in separate irrigation
Apply a 3-inch deep layer of mulch around the plant but keep it 4-6 inches away from the base of the trunk. Did you know that mulch:
- Holds moisture in the soil
- Slowly adds nutrients as it decomposes
- Reduces weed growth around and between the plants
- Slows erosion – especially when planting on a slope
- Keeps soil cool by reducing direct solar heat gain
Maintain your yard
Florida Friendly Landscaping reduces maintenance needs but doesn't eliminate
- Mow, weed, prune and fertilize as needed.
- Keep a lawn height of 2½ to 3 inches.
- Leave the grass clippings where they fall to help mulch and fertilize the lawn.
Avoid utility service lines
If you are planting trees and/or shrubs near utility lines or transformers, check out the utility clearance details in GRU’s Energy Delivery Service Guide (pages 23-26)
- Do not plant large trees under power lines.
- Do not plant trees and shrubs on top of underground utility lines.
- Call Sunshine 811 at least 48 hours before digging to have underground utility lines, pipes and cables marked.
Be aware of street-side planting restrictions
If you are considering planting alongside the street, there may be City, County or even State Department of Transportation standards and restrictions that you will need to be aware of. Contact the appropriate Permit, Public Works, or DOT offices prior to planting to avoid having to remove and re-plant your new landscaping.
For more information, visit the Florida Friendly Landscaping Program website.