Sustainable Planting for Florida Landscape

Project: Storm-Ready Design, Episode 11, Part 2

Bob is in Punta Gorda to learn about sustainable landscaping from Angela Polo of the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. Polo is joined by Brian Kendzior who explains the overall landscape design, the need for screening and privacy, and the move to get large landscaping away from homes that might be damaged from hurricane-force winds. Kendzior talks about plant maintenance and water use, showing Bob the Toro low-flow irrigation system that will water the plants through eight separate zones. Lawn Logic complements the irrigation system with a soil moisture monitoring system that will override the irrigation timer for each individual zone when in-ground sensors detect moisture above pre-set levels. This water-saving strategy is complemented by the selection of natural plants that thrive in the sandy, low-moisture soil of Florida. Polo and Micklow show Bob the plantings, beds, and wildlife gardens that are created to protect the waterway from pesticide and fertilizer runoff and transition the yard from controlled turf areas to native growth sections. Craig Harmer from Gardens Alive brings plant-specific natural plant foods, soil enhancers, and pesticides for the raised vegetable garden. PestAgon installs the Sentricon low-impact termite control system around the perimeter of the house.
Part 1: Sustainable Landscaping in Florida
Part 2: Sustainable Planting for Florida Landscape
Ken Micklow from Trent Culleny Landscaping Contractors talks with Bob about the native Sabal or Cabbage Palms that are being planted at the Punta Gorda home. The root ball has been trimmed as have the leaves to prevent stress during planting. Micklow says that it will have a full head and established roots within a year. Angela Polo looks at the Podocarpus being used for hedge plantings to screen the pool area. Their natural tendancy is to grow up not out, up to ten feet tall. They are easily maintained with tip pruning once or twice per year. Low-maintenance, low-pest, and low-water crotons are also being planted around the yard according to the landscape design plan. Gold Lantana is being planted as a nectar source for butterflies. Aztec grass is planted along the border with Bird of Paradise for ornamental accent plants. Micklow stresses that it's important not to add nutrients and fertilizers when planting or it could stress the plant by acclimating it to fertilized soil then taking it away. Ultimately it could make it more difficult for the plant to survice its natural conditions. Polo and Micklow have limited the turf area, but have provided functional grass area for their dogs and family with a transitional butterfly garden before the Lantana-planted area of the yard opens up. Carm DiBella from PestAgon joins Bob to explain the enviornmentally friendly Sentricon termite protection system installed at the Punta Gorda house. DiBella explains that termites are attracted to large masses that cover and cool the earth as the termites forage for food sources. The cap on each station serves as a thermal shield to cool the area around the bait source. Stations are installed every ten feet all the way around the house. Each station has a yellow pine center that serves as termite bait holding a small amount of pesticide. The insects take the bait back to the nest to feed and exterminate the colony. The stations are checked, scanned for readings, and renewed every two months. This system is projected to work for ten years without replacement.
Part 3: Natural Fertilizers and Non-Toxic Pesticides