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Evaluate your landscape this fall

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In evaluating a landscape, you may decide to do away with high maintenance plants that no longer seem worth the effort. Consider replacing plants that require routine pruning, watering and spraying with lower maintenance ones.

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Fall is a good time to evaluate and make changes to your landscape. Some plants require more money and time than they are worth.

It’s common for lawns growing underneath trees to eventually decline. As trees get larger, they produce more shade than is optimal for grass growth. Tree roots compete with a lawn for water and fertilizer. Over time, trees usually win. Some people fight this battle for years without considering an alternative.

Here are a few alternatives to consider when dealing with a lawn that’s losing the battle with trees. Create a mulched bed and forget grass. Plant shade-loving plants such as ferns, mondo grass, cast iron plant, Asiatic jasmine, etc. Containers planted with shade-loving annuals such as impatiens for seasonal color placed under a large tree may be more eye appealing then declining, thinning and weed infested lawn grass. There are options other than insisting on growing a lawn where a lawn doesn’t belong.

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In evaluating a landscape, you may decide to do away with high maintenance plants that no longer seem worth the effort. Consider replacing plants that require routine pruning, watering and spraying with lower maintenance ones.

As you take time to evaluate your landscape, don’t forget to look for good features. Identify good performers, those plants that have few problems. You may wish to propagate or purchase such plants to use elsewhere in your landscape.

In a coastal landscape, you may have noticed plants with low salt tolerance performing poorly. Your landscape evaluation may reveal evidence of salt burn in certain plants with low salt tolerance such as azaleas, dogwoods, and blueberries. You may consider replanting with plants that have a higher degree of salt tolerance.

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Your observations may lead you to consider using drought-tolerant plants in areas where it may be difficult to irrigate. Or you may think of ways to solve landscape maintenance problems that will save time and money.

You may decide to remove and/or replace a non-native invasive plant that is coming up in areas where it wasn’t planted or wanted. Sometimes an older plant that has “seen its better day” needs to be removed. Or, maybe it’s time to take out the plant that has outgrown its space.

The point is to take time this fall to evaluate what has worked and what has not, what you liked about your landscape and what could be improved. An honest evaluation of your landscape now will allow time to make improvements before you find yourself in the middle of another growing season with the same old landscape problems.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com.

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