Gardening In Florida For Beginners - Fertilizing, Mulch, Compost, & More
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Florida Gardening for Beginners

If you’ve been gardening in a different climate, you join the ranks of newbies and might benefit from Florida gardening tips for beginners. There are special considerations to be made along the coast, due to sandy soil, persistent ocean or gulf breezes, and other potential variables. Rest assured, though, that Florida is ideal for gardening. The following tips can help ensure that you plan out a successful garden landscape and use practices designed to protect the environment.

Florida Gardening Tips

Florida-Friendly Plants

Palm trees may be a signature look for Florida, but there are many gorgeous plants that thrive in the Sunshine State. Evaluate the space where you will plant your garden, to determine soil type and the amount of shade there. Choose plants that will thrive in that environment, considering exposure to sunlight, soil quality, and climate. Select a diversity of groundcovers, flowers, shrubs, and trees. If you choose the plants wisely, after they are well-established, minimal care should be required, such as supplemental water, pesticides, and fertilizer.

Please remove any invasive non-native plants in your yard, which can be identified on the Invasive Plants page of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website.

Water Efficiently

Another consideration when planning your garden layout is to group plants together according to the amount of water they require to flourish. When possible, hand water your plants with a hose or watering can. Keep diligent watch over your irrigation system. As needed, repair breaks, leaks, and clogs and redirect the sprinklers so that they aren’t watering your driveway. Since 1991 in Florida, operational rain shut-off devices have been required on automatic irrigation systems.

Fertilization Tips

Florida plants benefit from the extra nutrients added through fertilization, just like in all the other climates. Some earth-friendly fertilization practices encouraged in the state include:

  • Building the soil before planting
  • Sheet mulching
  • Using organic fertilizers
  • Composting
  • Using fertilizers with slow-release nitrogen and minimal or zero phosphorous
  • Being careful not to fertilize just prior to heavy rainfall
  • Never fertilize within 10 feet of a body of water of any kind—this is important, considering Florida has the second-longest coastline in the U.S. as well as thousands of lakes, 700+ freshwater springs, and rivers spanning more than 10,000 miles.

Using mulch in floridaAdd Mulch

The benefits of adding mulch to your Florida garden include protecting plants, retaining the moisture in the soil, and inhibiting weed growth. Mulch also looks great, providing landscapes with a tidy, uniform appearance. For shady and difficult-to-mow slopes, mulch is a great earth-friendly choice. When you let leaves that fall from your trees lie there, you create self-mulching areas. Florida landscaping experts suggest that cypress mulch should be avoided, due to questionable origins. Pine straw, melaleuca, and eucalyptus mulch that has been sustainably harvested are recommended, instead.

Recycle Yard Waste

You can save money by using decomposed organic matter gathered from mowing, raking, and pruning. Pine needles, branches, twigs, and weeds are all perfect for recycling. Other materials to add to your compost pile include tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, corncobs, and shredded cardboard. Stir or regularly turn the materials, and use a cover as protection from the rain.

Happy gardening!