By Lynn Barber

Spring in Hillsborough County means we’re past the last chance of frost, local area gardening festivals are occurring and we can dive into our landscape beds. This is a good time to shape and reduce the size of landscape plants, but not Gardenias and Azaleas until after they have bloomed. For ornamental grasses, cut the stems to 4-12 inches above the ground.

Recycle your landscape clippings in your compost bin. Learn how by attending a composting workshop at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County. Check your inground irrigation system for leaks, plant interference or misdirected heads. Consider registering for a water-wise/microirrigation workshop at Extension

It’s time to apply organic mulch to your landscape beds if you have less than 2-3” in depth. Pull the mulch away from the stems of your plants to decrease the potential for pests/disease. Mulch is a great landscape addition because it adds nutrients to the soil when it decomposes, retains soil moisture, regulates soil temperature and suppresses weed growth. Weeds thrive where there is a lack of mulch, too much water and excessive amounts of fertilizer.

Consider taking a soil sample to determine the pH in the area you want to plant. For more information about soil testing, please see “Soil Sampling and Testing for the Home Landscape or Vegetable Garden.” Soil testing for pH only is done at our office for $3 per sample.

Fertilize vegetables, perennials and palms. Check the Central Florida Gardening Calendar,, for information on what to plant and do month by month. View the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide,, for information about soil preparation, adjusting the soil pH, fertilizing, irrigation and drainage, pest management, no-pesticide approaches, using pesticides wisely and which and when vegetables can be planted.

For assistance with horticultural questions, call 744-5519 or visit us at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 C.R. 579 in Seffner.

More gardening information is available at and  Remember to reuse, reduce and recycle. 

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