Specialized information on Hardscape Landscape Waterscape Ecoscape

Tip Of The Week


Natural Bug Repellent

While purusing the internet, I found this awesome citra hand and body soap that naturally repels mosquitoes, black flies, fleas and other annoying insects for hours. Since you have to bathe with the soap, it's really only practical if you know you're going to be outside for a long period of time. Check it out at hunterhilsberg.com. 


Pesticide Alternative

Instead of spraying nasty pesticides on your plants, make compost tea with a quarter cup of compost steeped in a gallon of water. Spraying it on your plant leaves can be effective against some types of fungi. Remember not to spray it in the middle of the day - the strong Florida sun mixed with water will burn the leaves.


Remove a Motor Oil Stain from Concrete

Keep in mind, a fresh motor oil stain is easier to remove from concrete than an old stain. First, squirt some liquid dish detergent (preferably one designed for cutting grease) onto the stain. Add water. Be sure to wet down the area surrounding the stain well to prevent oil from spreading during the cleaning process - causing a secondary stain. Use a nylon scrub brush to scour the area. Stay away from a wire brush which can erode or scratch the concrete. Rinse with clean water. The soap will emulsify the oil and lift it out of the concrete, but it may take several attempts to completely remove all of the oil.


Best Native Plants

According to Barbara Jackson, President of the Florida Native Plant Society Ixia Chapter (servicing Duval, Nassau and Clay Counties) here are a few of the best native plants for our area. They not only have salt tolerance, but provide food for our local wildlife: Wildflowers—Seaside goldenrod (high salt tolerance), Black Eyed Susan (medium), Swamp Hibiscus (low); Groundcovers—Dune sunflower (high), Sea Pursalane (high), Blanket Flower (medium), Adam’s Needle (medium);  Vines—Railroad Vine (high), Coral Honeysuckle (medium), Carolina/yellow Jessamine (low); Grasses—Muhly (high), Bitter Panic (high), Purple Lovegrass (low); Shrubs—Wax Myrtle (medium), Yaupon Holly (medium), Bird pepper (low); Trees—Southern Red Cedar (medium), Southern Magnolia (medium), Sand Pine (medium), Live Oak (medium); Palms—Cabbage Palm (high), Saw Palmetto (high). 


Add Chlorine at Night

Add chlorine to your swimming pool at night instead of during the day and you can reduce your chemical costs. Chlorine is used to oxidize bacteria, sweat, soap, suntan lotion and other contaminants. If you add chlorine during the day, a fair portion of it will be consumed by sunlight. Add it at night, and the chlorine has a chance to do its job - clean your pool. Your pool water will be cleaner and you'll end up using less.    


Avoid Over Lighting

Outdoor lights look best as accents. Too much lighting can produce something called light pollution, while flooding sitting or planting areas with "stadium lighting" can make them look washed out. On top of that, it's a waste of electricity. Find the right balance of low-voltage lighting to highlight your outdoor space - not drown it. 


Father's Day Gift Ideas

Sunday, June 20th is Father's Day. Celebrate dad with an outdoor barbeque - he probably won't mind grilling duty- and show your appreciation with a new BBQ accessory. Here are a couple of ideas: a grill light, outset grill wok with handles, smoker chips, drip pans, vegetable basket, rib rack or even a Jalapeno rack with corer.


Invasive Mint

Mint (Mentha) is one of the easiest herbs to grow, thus making it great for beginner gardeners. Unfortunately, it can also be invasive in ideal growing conditions. This aromatic perennial can get up to 3 feet in height and is not fussy about soil or light. To help mint from overtaking the rest of your herb garden, plant it in a bottomless pail sunk in the soil at least 10 inches.