Grow a Lush Landscape with These Tips

There's no better time to tend your yard and garden

It's spring. Your yard and garden are calling. Here are things you should know before heading to the plant nursery or that needy, weedy spread outside your door:

  • Do you know what plants grow best in your yard? Consider getting a soil pH test. It can save time and money. Contact the Hillsborough County Extension Service. The cost is $3 per sample.
  • Consider native plants. They are adapted to our region, and often have fewer pests and other problems. Many of them also benefit wildlife. A good reference is the Extension Service publication "Native Plants: An Overview." 
  • Visit Southwest Florida Water Management District for information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping. Use the guide to help select appropriate plants for your yard or garden.
  • Routinely check for weeds and pull them when you first see them. It's easier to control young weeds than mature ones. You also want to remove weeds before they flower and produce seeds that will grow into more weeds.
  • Scout your garden regularly. Identify insects and problems before randomly using a pesticide or fungicide. Visit the Hillsborough County Extension Service office and bring samples of your problems so agents can help you correct them.
  • Plant herbs such as rosemary, sweet basil, dill, mint, and oregano that you can use in meals and on the grill. Take cuttings and sprinkle them as a garnish, drop mint and rosemary in ice-cube trays or in iced tea, and add herbs to recipes and salad dressings.Get more information about cooking with fresh herbs.
  • Want plants that last a long time? Try perennials. Here's a list and descriptions of them.
  • Learn what vegetables grow well in Central Florida in the spring. Print a copy of the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide and take it with you to a garden center, or bookmark it on your mobile device.
  • Never intentionally apply fertilizer before it rains. Fertilizer will seep into soil with a small amount of water. Don't waste it, or your money, by applying fertilizer before a heavy rain that washes it away.

The Hillsborough County Extension Service, at 5339 County Road 579, offers free diagnostic services for County residents. Bring samples for agents to identify. The Extension Service also has free publications available on a variety of topics. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more tips, check out the Central Florida Gardening Calendar