Specialized information on Hardscape Landscape Waterscape Ecoscape

Tip Of The Week


Building a Pergola

Here are seven things to consider before building a pergola: (1) Figure out your budget (2) Contact your "call before you dig" 811 number (3) Figure out how much shade you want your pergola to give (4) Choose your materials wisely - wood, aluminum or vinyl? (5) Mark the size you want your pergola to be (6) Pick a shape - square and rectangular pergolas are easier to build, though triangular and circular are an option and (7) What's the purpose of your pergola? Do you plan on entertaining a crowd or is it simply for afternoon reading?


Attracting Wildlife

If you're looking to attract wildlife to your Jacksonville Backyard, here are a few things to consider: (1) Have a water source like a fountain or pond (2) Plant a food supply i.e. plants with berries, nuts, seeds or fruit (3) Offer greenery that provides cover like dense evergreen trees, shrubs and vines (4) Consider leaving a dead tree in your backyard for bluebirds, woodpeckers and flying squirrels and (5) Diversify the variety of native plant species in your backyard space.


Native Bunchgrass

Bunchgrass is a great alternative to turfgrass as a groundcover. And bunchgrass seeds are an excellent source of food for seed-eating birds. Florida has an abundance of native wildflowers and ornamental bunchgrasses to be used to replace large areas of turf. The Florida Native Plant Society lists the following bunchgrasses as great groundcover: Broomsedge, Chalky Bluestem, Elliott's Lovegrass, Fakahatchee Grass, Florida Gamagrass, Lopsided Indian Grass, Muhly Grass, Purple Lovegrass, Sand Cordgrass, Sea Oats and Wiregrass.  


Pool Cleaning Tips

Cleaning your swimming pool is one of the most labor-intensive backyard responsibilities. Here are a few tips to make it a little easier and go more quickly: (1) Empty your skimmer baskets frequently so that debris doesn't end up on the bottom of your pool. (2) When cleaning the surface of your pool with a leaf net, work your way around the sides of the pool first. Next, clean from the middle of the pool to the sides and clean the net frequently. (3) Keep the trees and plants around your pool trimmed back so that debris doesn't end up in your pool in the first place.


Erosion Control

Seven tips to help with erosion control include (1) Planting plants with deep, hardy roots that will hold on to soil. (2) Keep your gutters and downspouts clear of debris, so they can direct rainwater away from the foundation and into a natural basic. (3) Construct a catch basic, or an area that's large enough to contain water without overflowing. (4) Use large rocks, pebbles, boulders or other materials to prevent erosion and beautify your landscape at the same time. (5) Use mulch to absorb moisture and keep soil in place. (6) Keep your yard filled in. Bare spots should be seeded immediately. (7) Find out what kind of soil you have and determine if it should be blended with more rocky or clay-like material to enhance erosion control.


Stormwater Runoff

If you live on waterfront property (i.e. a lake, the ocean, a stream or pond), be conscious of the runoff from your lawn and landscaping. Where is your stormwater runoff dumping? If in the water, what is it dumping? Use all-natural fertilizers, plant native landscaping and extend the runoffs "soak time" by installing a series of swales and channels to allow the water time to soak into the landscape rather than just dump into the waterway.


The Many Faces of Mulch 

Mulch comes in many different forms; hay, straw, shredded leaves, newspaper, wood chips, pine needles, grass clippings and shredded bark to name a few. Did you know that mulch is not only used for aesthetics? It also helps will soil erosion, suppresses weeds, keeps soil cool and keeps moisture in to feed your plants during those hot, sunny days. Organic mulches also help improve the soil’s fertility, as they decompose.


In the Garden

According to Amanda Searle with the Springfield Community Garden, planting fruits and vegetables in Northeast Florida during the summer months can be a tricky task. Many don't like temperatures over 80 degrees. The following are plants you can plant in July that will weather the August heat as they mature: Pole Beans, Eggplant, Okra, Black Eyed Peas, Peppers, Watermelon and Cherry Tomatoes.