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Tips for Reducing Your Yard Maintenance

As the summer heat is upon us, some of us here in Jacksonville are wishing we had a little less maintenance to do in our yard. Here are some tips to decrease some of that yard work.

Group Your Flowers: Consider reducing flower displays to small groups in major focal points. Select long-living annual flowers or perennials for seasonal color.

Select a Slow-Release Fertilizer: Products are now available that feed lawns, trees and shrubs for one or more seasons.

Create Smooth Bed Lines: Consider more widely curved or linear beds and borders in the landscape to make edging and containing the plants easier.

Stick with Less-Needy Plants: All plantings should be selected with water, fertilizer and pest-control needs in mind. Consider a drought-tolerant turf, but remember that without water, it, too, turns brown. Orlando landscape-service owner Gerry Braun's list of ornamentals that won't need a lot of attention include African iris, Asiatic jasmine, blood lily, bulbine, caladium, coontie, jatropha, Mexican petunia, rain lily and society garlic. His favorite carefree trees include crape myrtle, live oak, tabebuia and winged elm. "As we become more aware of our precious resources, it's increasingly important to make smart plant choices for our gardens, " says Braun.

Define Walkways: Use mulch, pavers or concrete to direct traffic through the landscape without creating ruts or bare areas.

Enlarge Beds: Include trees and shrubs in these bigger beds. Remove the grass, and add a mulch to reduce the care needed.

Use Lots of Mulch: Include barks, leaves and compost as good options for adding mulch. Form layers 2 to 3 inches thick in tree and shrub plantings, and use thinner layers in flower beds.

Lose the Lawn: If you limit the amount of lawn you have, you'll do less mowing, fertilizing and irrigating, says Jennifer Ramos of Florida Yards & Neighborhoods. She suggests keeping turf to areas of family play and selecting ground covers for other large, open areas plus heavily shaded areas where grass won't grow.

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