Frequently Asked Questions about Landscape Irrigation for Florida-Friendly Landscaping Ordinances
This FAQ link answers many questions but there is still more research being done by the U of F to get the best answers for protecting our environment.
State bill 494 is important since it will require BMP training for all lawn companies that apply fertilizer. In addition, it may ease watering restrictions for those who incorporate moisture or rain sensors as part of their irrigation system. Research shows that watering twice a week with less water improves turf and reduces water usage. U of F research also shows that there is little difference in water requirements between the different turf grasses. Turf uses more water in the spring when coming out of dormancy and then again in the fall when establishing roots
Phosphorus leaching from turf fertilizers is a big problem for our water supply. St Augustine turf uses and holds phosphorous, the P in N-P-K on your fertilizer bag, 30 times better than highly promoted Empire Zoysia. That also holds true for nitrogen recycling making St. Augustine more environmentally friendly than Zoysia.
The best thing you can do with your St. Augustine lawn is to only fertilize in the fall and only use a slow release N-P-K formula. Lawns overgrow and become thatched if you fertilize in the growing season when they do not need it. Overfertilized lawns are more prone to disease and insects and then require properly timed pesticide sprays to prevent decline. If you want a greener lawn in the summer you should just use iron fertilizer.
Empire Zoysia has shallow roots and goes dormant faster than St. Augustine. It is susceptible to brown patch and requires no less water than St. Augustine turf. It is slow to spread and slow to come out of winter dormancy.
The governor has not to signed the into law the bill that ties Florida Friendly Landscaping principles to protect homeowners rights if they employ them in their communities that may have laws or deed restrictions requiring turf. According to a story in the Bradenton Herald, Manasota 88 objected to late amendment language that lessens permitting requirements. See also Florida-Friendly Landscapes Pass the Legislature
We recently visited my father in law, Dr Charlie Park, in Historic Sanford. Sanford has a very interesting history. You could easily spend a day driving around Sanford and visiting all the restored 1800 era homes, buildings, waterfront, park, zoo and the museum. Mayor Linda Kuhn is the driving force behind the efforts in this community and Linda is an enthusiastic gardener. Linda invites you to enjoy the efforts of an inspired community. As you drive around Sanford you will see beautiful plantings of flowers, trees and shrubs and flowering combination baskets hanging from ornate lightposts.
I can highly recommend the Stones Throw Bistro for lunch or dinner in downtown. Fried Green Tomato Crab Cake with White Wine Hollandaise might be the best appetizer I have ever eaten.
Bulbine is a very drought tolerant Florida Friendly Plant and used extensively in the Sanford landscapes. I will get some pictures of the city and how they use Bulbine for a future post.
Jelly Burn Plant - Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark' - Orange Stalked Bulbine, similar to Aloe this plant also contains the same glycoprotiens that ease burns, rashes and itches but this variety blooms year round and is hardy down to 20 degrees. Bulbine is an FNGLA Plant of the Year and favored by gardeners wanting to replace thirsty turf areas with drought tolerant, carefree ground covers. Find it at your local Florida Home Depot.
Have you seen the modern Astroturf? The 2009 version is very nice and can be seen at EPCOT. It feels really good to walk on and you can add a rubber under layer for play areas.
There is an interesting pro and con article at Sustainable Gardening Australia if you think this is appealing to you. In some Florida counties we have Energy from Waste plants where the synthetic turf product will be incinerated 10-25 years after installation rather than land filled which adds to the facts of this article.
For more inspiration check out Felders New Lawn
George Washington Carver invented 108 ways to use the sweet potato. Sweet Potato Products
Plant Breeders today have found sweet potatoes can be very useful as sturdy landscape perennial color components. You can eat the ornamental varieties but once you taste them you will go back to the traditional and much more delectable garden varieties suitable for Florida. Maybe you want to have your cake and it eat too. Alternate your favorite color of ornamental sweet potato with edible varieties to create a pleasing and extensive ground cover to replace thirsty turf while enhancing the view in your landscape. Focus the water on the plants in rows using highly efficient drip irrigation and you will use a fraction of what it takes to maintain an equivalent lawn area. Mulch the entire area with free oak leaves from your neighbors that they leave at the curb or buy some Florida Friendly Melaluca or Eucalyptus mulch to keep the weeds down. If you interplant edible and ornamental types, as you harvest your edible tubers the ornamental vines will keep the view looking beautiful and quickly cover where the edible tubers vines are harvested. Her are some good reasons you might Eat the View.
Ornamental Sweet Potato tuber of Sweet Potato Vine 'Margarita'
Today, colorful hybrids are readily available in gallon containers and in 9 count Classic Selection trays at most Florida Home Depot stores.
Ornamental Sweet Potatoes are easy to plant and thrive in Florida.
They make an excellent spreading ground cover and make the color of the other plants in your garden stand out. Think of ways to use the prolific and easy to care for plants as complementary components in designing with color. They can also be used dependably as SPILLERS and FILLERS in container combinations.