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Turfgrass alternatives offer residents additional groundcover choices, UF/IFAS experts say

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

Perennial peanut

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spring is right around the corner, and for some residents it may be time to think about sprucing up the yard with new landscaping.

Covering more than 5 million acres in Florida, turfgrass is the state’s most popular groundcover – but it may not be the ideal choice for every situation, say experts with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Emphasizing the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle “right plant, right place,” UF/IFAS Extension faculty members suggest that residents who are considering groundcover options start by assessing their needs and site conditions.

“We need turf for recreation, for that open front-yard spot in your landscape, and to give us that green look,” said Wendy Wilber, an Alachua County environmental horticulture Extension agent. “A good-looking Florida-Friendly Landscape can have a mix of plants and features, if the conditions call for it.”

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Establishing healthy shrubs not the water-consuming task many think, UF research shows

Topic(s): Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, Lawn & Garden

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Good news for your utility bills and the environment: New University of Florida research shows that landscape shrubs need much less water to establish healthy roots than you might expect.

“We finally have our irrigation recommendations for establishing shrubs backed up with science. We need less irrigation than many people think,” said Ed Gilman, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences environmental horticulture professor who led the research study.

The six-year study’s objective was to determine how best to irrigate shrubs during “establishment” — the 20- to 28-week period when shrubs’ roots grow until the plant can survive without irrigation.

The research examined irrigation frequency and volume on the quality, survival and growth rates of three-gallon, container-grown shrubs. Plants were examined in Fort Lauderdale, Balm, Apopka and Citra, locations that span three water management districts in Florida and have varied growing conditions.

Some of the state’s most popular ornamental shrubs were evaluated, including both native and non-native species, such as yaupon holly and gardenia.

“One of the results that we noted was that there are no differences between native and non-native species for amount of water required for establishment, “Gilman said. “This often surprises people, but it emphasizes that the Florida-friendly principle — right plant, right place — is worth following.”

Florida-friendly gardening means planting that accounts for site conditions, maintenance needs and local climate. Such landscapes may use both native and non-native plants, as long as the non-native plants aren’t an invasive species. (more …)

New public television show aimed at Southern gardeners hits the air May 9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Southern gardeners will soon have a new tool to help them in the garden. “Your Southern Garden” with Walter Reeves is an educational television show created to help gardeners of all levels learn new tricks, get fresh ideas and visit interesting sites.

“This show provides the opportunity to really educate Floridians and others in the region about landscaping and outdoor water conservation,” said Millie Ferrer, interim extension dean for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Watering in the landscape is such an important issue right now and the faculty at UF and UGA can provide great tips and information to help conserve water.”

The show, produced by University of Florida IFAS Extension and the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast.

The 2009 season of “Your Southern Garden” premieres May 9 on public broadcast stations in the Tampa Bay and north central Florida areas. Beginning in April 2010, it will air throughout most of north and central Florida area and the Georgia Public Broadcasting viewing area. (more …)

UF Studies Show Home Buyers Like ‘Green’ Features but May Not Understand Green Living

Topic(s): Conservation, Finances, Florida Friendly, Green Living, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

Mark Hostetler poses in a suburban neighborhood in Gainesville, Florida
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Home buyers appreciate the benefits of “green” communities, but residents don’t necessarily lead more eco-friendly lives than their neighbors in traditional homes, according to two University of Florida studies conducted in the fast-growing state.

The findings could mean some homeowners in green communities don’t know enough about how to reduce their environmental impact, said Mark Hostetler, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)

Soil-moisture Sensors May Produce Big Water Savings for Homeowners, UF Study Shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Florida Friendly, Green Living, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Soil-moisture sensors hooked to sprinkler systems could put a huge dent in homeowners’ utility bills – and help conserve much-needed water, a new University of Florida study says.

Researcher Michael Dukes found that for three of four soil-moisture sensors tested, water savings ranged from 69 percent to 92 percent, compared to grass watered without the help of sensors. (more …)

UF turfgrass researchers release slow-grow, low-mow grass — and it’s pretty

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, Florida Friendly, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

By:
Mickie Anderson (352) 392-0400Source:
Russell Nagata nagata@ifas.ufl.edu, 561-993-1557

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Imagine life with fewer Saturday afternoons stuck behind a noisy lawn mower.

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has released a new slow-growing turfgrass that you may be able to buy as early as next year.

And you can put down that fertilizer bag: The new St. Augustinegrass variety’s finer leaf blade and dark green hue make for a prettier lawn and it’s far more resistant to sap-sucking, lawn-killing chinch bugs than current varieties. (more …)

Horse racing road apples might soon turn a shiny profit

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Economics, Florida Friendly, Pollution

By:
Stu Hutson 352-392-0400

Source(s):
Lori Warren lkwarren@ufl.edu, 352-392-1957

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On June 9, the final horse race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, will run. But there’ll be more than confetti to pick up afterwards.

Horse tracks like Belmont Park produce up to 600 cubic feet of manure a day—with or without a race. Add to that the thousands of horse farms around the country and you have one big problem. (more …)

Relocating ‘nuisance bears’ may do more harm than good, UF study shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Extension, Florida Friendly

Source(s):
Kim Annis kimannis@ufl.edu, 352-846-0643
Mel Sunquist sunquist@ufl.edu, 352-846-0566

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For decades, state wildlife officials have been trapping and relocating so-called “nuisance bears” that get too close to humans.

But a new University of Florida study shows the policy may merit a second look. (more …)

New UF partnerships help solve growth management issues in Florida

Topic(s): Biofuels, Conservation, Environment, Florida Friendly, Green Living, Pollution

By:
Chuck Woods (352) 392-0400

Source(s):
Tom Ankersen ankersen@law.ufl.edu, 352-273-0835
Larry Arrington lra@ufl.edu, 352-392-1761
Jim Cato jccato@ufl.edu, 352-392-5870
Robert Jerry jerryr@law.ufl.edu, 352-392-9238
Pierce Jones ez@energy.ufl.edu, 352-392-8074

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GAINESVILLE, FLA. — Finding realistic and equitable legal solutions to a wide range of important growth management issues – especially those that affect agriculture, green space, water resources and energy – is easier thanks to a new partnership between the University of Florida’s Extension Service and UF’s Levin College of Law.

The Extension Service is now working closely with the Conservation Clinic, housed in the law college’s Center for Governmental Responsibility, to promote smart growth and sustainability solutions throughout the state. (more …)

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