Last month, my article covered how you can have a beautiful garden while maintaining a lazy gardener lifestyle. This month it is about the limitations to lazy gardening.
Mulch: Takes a little work to put it down but saves a lot of time and effort in the long run. Regulates soil temperature, adds organic value, inhibits weedss and retains soil moisture. Pine bark, pine straw/needles, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and leaves are good options. Cypress is not because when cypress stands are cut down for mulching, the habitat of native birds and animals is destroyed.
Fertilizing: Use slow release fertilizer every three to four months per label. To be really lazy, do not fertilize until you are sure of light rain for activation. Water-based fertilizers leach through the soil after rain or irrigation. The University of Florida recommends fertilizing turfgrass two to three times per year. Leaving grass clippings on your turf means you can decrease one fertilization needing one to two, saving you both time and dollars.
Why Prune? Reasons to prune include training the plant to grow in a certain direction and improving health by removing diseased stems, which opens the interior space, creating better air circulation. Pruning also increases flowering, allowing for bigger fruit on some types and more abundant foliage. It can also restrict growth and keep the plant in the boundary of available space. And, you can deadhead to reduce pruning.
War on Weeds: A weed is the wrong plant in the right place, right plant/wrong place or a plant with nine lives. Using mulch (depth of two to three inches after it settles) helps. If you chose to fight the weed war, you can cover weeds with newspapers to smother them and/or point, aim and squeeze with an environmentally-friendly weed killer spray.
Pests: Biting, Sucking and Chewing! We have aphids, caterpillars, slugs, snails, scale and spider mites. Less than one per cent of all bugs are bad bugs.
“When we kill off the natural enemies of a pest, we inherit their work,” said Professor Carl Huffaker, Ph.D. (entomology/ecology).
The first step, however, is to properly identify the insect to be sure it is a pest versus a beneficial insect. If you must, use a nonchemical and least toxic product. Spot treat plants as needed, not the entire landscape.
Lazy Pest Management (LPM) Alternatives: Murder by Hand Methods: Use two pinching fingers to squish pests; hard spray with water; and/or prune off infested sections and place those sections in your household trash, not your yard waste which could be recycled elsewhere. For info on nonchemical solutions, go to: https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/ffl/managing-yard-pests.html.
Inefficient Irrigation: If you have an in-ground irrigation system, do you have broken heads, plant or other materials blocking the spray pattern and/or a rain shut-off device that does not work? Do you have program A, B and C set to run subsequently? Are the times set for each irrigation zone appropriate? Is your water bill for more than 20,000 gallons of water per month? If yes, you should talk to Paula Staples, 744-5519 x54142, to see how she may be able to help you decrease your water usage.
Right Plant, Wrong Place: You now have the ‘opportunity’ to move the right plant to the right place in your landscape or take the time and expense of replacing it after it dies. Site conditions are very important when making plant selections. Consideration should be given to light (sun/shade), soil pH and texture, water, wind and other conditions. An invasive plant is never the right plant in any place. Not sure if it’s invasive, go to UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas: https://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/.
Rewards of laziness: Reading, golfing, sleeping, cooking, crafting, outings with family and friends, more gardening, attending an Extension workshop…your choice!
For information, contact the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Hillsborough County, 744-5519, located at 5339 CR 579 in Seffner, or visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/ or www.facebook.com/HCFFL/.