Teresa Watkins shares her ideas on Setting up a Green Foundation. Ask Teresa your gardening questions during the award-winning call-in gardening radio show; “In Your Backyard” on Central Florida’s WLBE My790am every Tuesday from 1:00 – 2:00pm.
• Use landscape plantings that allow for mature growth. Take the full width of a plant and divide it by half. If a tree grows 30 feet wide, plant it at least 20 feet away from house or overhead wires. Hedge shrubs that will reach 6 feet wide within two years, plant three feet apart.
• Do not cram perennials and ornamental shrubs together for the instant look. Instead, plant more perennials and ornamentals appropriately, and then use seasonal annuals, containers, and hanging baskets to provide more color.
• Pruning foundation plants should not be necessary. We shouldn’t put plants in to cut them unless it’s a formal landscape, a standard specimen, or a formal topiary. If a window ledge is three feet up from the ground, then use a shrub that will only grow to three feet or grow very slowly, so that pruning is an annual landscape chore.
• Install foundation plants at least two feet away from the foundation or outside of the roof line. This will allow the foundation plants to receive rainfall, and therefore cut supplemental irrigation, but also keep the soil at the foundation dry. Keeping the rootball moisture away around the home will also maintain the integrity of termiticide barrier, reducing susceptibility to termites
• Shrubs should have three to four inches of mulch on top of the root ball. This leaves the trunk flare visible but only use one to two inches of mulch around the foundation of the home. This will allow the moisture to dry around the house, again providing more termite protection.
How do you know how big a shrub or tree will get? A great landscape database to help determine appropriate size of shrubs and trees is the St Johns Water Management District’s Waterwise Landscapes website.
Green builders want to provide better landscapes that will look great upon installation, are fabulous a year later, and within five years, look natural as if it had always been there. Green landscapes mean lower upfront landscape budget costs for the builder, getting more bangs for your buck while selling the benefits of less maintenance, lower water bills, for the home buyer, resulting in a quicker home sale!