It’s “winter” in Florida, and the cool temps mean it’s the perfect time to get to all those projects that are too-hot-to-handle the rest of the year. Garage organizing, house washing or painting, cleaning the gutters, AND putting some muscle power into the garden is all so much easier when the weather is cooler.
Let’s get started!
We’re not going to trim much. Azaleas and Hydrangea, along with many other flowering bushes, flower on OLD wood – so trimming before the spring would be a big mistake if you want to see them bursting with flowers in a few weeks. This month we are going to focus on the ground and plants that are past their prime.
Tools and Supplies: Plastic Leaf Rake, Metal Garden Rake, Garden Hand Tools (the claw and the scoop), Gloves, Newspaper, Paper Yard Bags, Mulch.
The right tools make ALL the difference when it comes to spending as little time as possible preparing and maintaining a garden. You’ll thank yourself later for investing in a few items for yard maintenance, even if you have to budget for them over time.
Paper Yard Bags: Most cities cannot take yard waste in plastic bags. It’s better to have it loose in a dedicated trash can, or in paper yard bags like <<< these found at The Home Depot, and many other home improvement stores.
Rake: Clear beds first by raking leaves with plastic rake. Use a metal garden rake to loosen the topsoil/mix any remaining old mulch into the dirt. Evenly distribute.
Weed: If you can muster the strength, hand weeding things like clover and fern will allow you to dig down to the root and seed pockets – which makes it way harder for those garden invaders to come back so quickly. Dig up and discard dead plants, or ones you plan to replace this year.
Newspaper: This is the Earth-friendly secret to fewer weeds in your garden beds! Newspaper allows water to get through and blocks weeds at the same time. Once you have raked, loosened, and evened out the topsoil, cover the beds with old newspapers. You want it to be about three pages thick. The thicker the newspaper layer, the less weeds can grow. In areas you plan to have potted plants or nothing at all, make your layers a couple of pages thicker. Use only matte newsprint pages, discard any of the glossy coated ones. Once you have blanketed your bed in newsprint, lightly shower the papers with water to get them to stay in place, then cover the whole area with a layer of mulch or pine bark nuggets.
In just a few hours time, you’ll have beautiful garden beds ready for all of your spring planting, OR if you never get around to flowers, you have perfectly manicured and mulched landscaping!
A quick guide for common Central Florida yard waste and debris:
“Yard waste” is natural, organic matter only. Meaning; grass clippings, leaves, branches, weeds, dirt, etc. Plastic mulch bags, old plant containers, nails, screws, and other random things you happen to find outside should go into the regular garbage.
- Palm fronds, can be stacked together or tied with jute or natural twine.
- Ties should be an organic material like jute or natural cotton. (Not the white or yellow plastic cord stuff.)
- Fill PAPER yard bags about 3/4 of the way to avoid ripping.
- Avoid those black plastic yard bags, even though the box says they are for yard waste. They don’t break down, so workers have to remove them.
- It’s fine to fill a can with loose clippings and leaves, you only need to bag or bundle items that are not in a can.
- Disperse heavier items among several cans (small tree trunks, branches, limbs, etc.) to offset the weight.
- Large twigs, trunks, branches, bamboo, etc. should be cut into 3’ segements and bundled.
- Our waste management company says you can typically put out as many cans and bundles as would fit in a large pick up truck bed.
Keep in mind, most yard waste is still tended to by hand by a small team of workers. Make sure your bins, bags, and bundles can be physically picked up to be dumped or hauled away. Over-filling bags and heavy trunk-filled garbage cans makes it really hard on workers, especially in the summer months.