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Dry season

6 Ways to Help Your Landscape Survive Dry Season

Will your outdoor plantings last until summer rains arrive?

April and May are among the driest months of the year in Hillsborough County. And with spring moving toward summer, it's going to keep getting hotter.

Here are six things you can do to help your yard survive the season:

  • When designing your landscape, place plants where they are likely to thrive. Gardeners should consider a site's soil and climatic conditions, sources of water, and proximity to sun or shade. Once established in the right place, plants should need little supplemental water, fertilizer, or pesticide.
  • Group together plants with similar watering needs, and zone your irrigation system accordingly. Check that your sprinklers or misters are aimed toward plants rather than pavement. Make sure your rain shut-off device is working correctly and your water lines are leak-free. Consider installing a microirrigation system in your landscape beds or container plantings. If you don't have a sprinkler system, hand-water only when needed. Hillsborough County Extension can help, with free on-site inspections.
  • Go with drought-resistant vegetation, or wait until the summer rainy season to install plants that need more rain or irrigation.

  • Find My Watering Days

  • Consider these low-demand, high-return plants: firebush, plumbago, firecracker bush, African and walking iris, thryallis, pentas, croton, and salvia. For other plants, see - or request a copy of - The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design. It's free.
  • Mulch helps soil retain moisture. It also inhibits weed growth and protects your plants. When possible, use mulch culled from your own yard such as fallen leaves or pine tree needles.
  • Try to save, or reroute, rainwater to benefit your landscape and to protect nearby water bodies from runoff. Learn how to build a rain barrel system, or contour your yard to keep rainfall in place until it can absorb into the ground. When possible, fashion permeable sidewalks, driveways, and patios out of brick, gravel, or crushed shell.

See the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ for more information about how to survive the dry, hot months of late spring.

Check out Extension's calendar of events to learn about and sign up for workshops such as composting, microirrigation, and rainwater harvesting, as well as library plant clinics and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ 101.

Have questions? Contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at Hillsborough County Extension, (813) 744-5519, extension 4.

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