Trimming some plants can help enhance the beauty of your Florida Yard. This is also an area of maintenance where you can reduce the workload by doing things the environmentally friendly way.

For example, if you've selected slow-growing plants, the amount of pruning will be reduced. Also, less pruning is required if plants are placed so that when they mature, they don't grow over walkways, driveways or against buildings. If your yard isn't turf intensive, less mowing is an obvious work and time saver. In addition, a beautiful landscape need not have a clipped, formal look. Soft, flowing, natural lines can be attractive and easy to maintain.

If there are turf areas to be mowed, keep in mind that most St. Augustine and Bahia turf grass should be kept at a minimum height of three to four inches and longer in the shade. If cut shorter the plants may be stressed. Each mowing should remove no more than one-third of the leaf blade, and those cuttings should remain on the lawn to decompose.

For procrastinators who don't mow regularly, mulching mowers will cut into smaller pieces, speeding decomposition. If the grass has gotten too long, spread cuttings behind shrubs or add them to a compost pile.

Grass clippings can also be mixed with leaves and twigs to create useful mulch that provides nutrients to your plants.

Many new Floridians avoid having deciduous trees in their yards because fallen leaves require raking. But deciduous trees help reduce energy costs by shading the house in summer and allowing sunshine to heat the house in winter when their leaves fall.

Where turf isn't a concern, you don't have to rake under trees because the self-mulching is good for the plant. If aesthetics are an issue, plant shrubs under the trees to avoid raking. They benefit from the mulch and help hold leaves in place so they won't clutter the landscape.

Collecting leaves and pine needles by raking or blowing provides a source of mulches that is a real asset in the landscape, and it's virtually free. If your yard generates more leaf mulch than you can use, compost the material or share some with a neighbor. When pruning trees and shrubs, toss small cuttings into a compost pile or behind a shrub. Hauling huge piles of brush to the landfill is not necessary--and you'll avoid tipping fees charged at the landfill that add to the cost of maintenance.


For more information go to:
A Guide to Environmentally Friendly Landscaping: Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook
Allen Garner, John Stevely, Heidi Smith, Mary Hoppe, Tracy Floyd and Paul Hinchcliff. Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: May 2001