Consider creating an outdoor space for you and your family to enjoy, using a focal point such as a large shade tree. Set up some chairs and create your space around the tree. No tree? A water feature could enhance and ground the space. Natural textures, like this custom stacked-stone fountain can add a sense of tranquility to your outdoor living area. Creating a garden can be labor intensive, but you can avoid a lot of upkeep by selecting local North Florida and heirloom plants. Native landscaping requires less pruning, fertilizer and pesticides. It’s good for the environment and good for your wallet! A natural approach to landscape is not only aesthetically pleasing, but will attract wildlife such as butterflies, birds and bees. Put up some bluebird houses and keep insects at bay. You may even consider getting some chickens that will feed on those pesky insects that wreak havoc on your property. But be sure to keep those chickens out of the main garden because they can scratch it up in a jiffy. Working with nature is the key.
Go Native with your Lawn
Naturalized field grasses such as Bahia grass make surprisingly nice lawns. This tough pasture grass is very drought tolerant, deep rooted and has exceptional disease and insect resistance. The coarse texture may take some getting used to, but the tradeoff is having a chemical-free yard.
Make Friends with a tree!
Use an existing canopy tree as focal point or to create a space for relaxing in the shade. A sitting area can be created with just a few pieces of outdoor furniture and some planters. In this space, Black-eyed Susans mixed with airy Gaura and Blanket Flower make a wildflower bouquet for an outdoor party. A destination in the shade is always a welcome retreat.
Friends of a Feather
Use birds to help with natural pest control. Bluebird boxes on the farm at Cottage Gardens have nearly eliminated the use of pesticides in the flower field. Chickens patrolling the edges of the garden go after unwanted snails and grasshoppers.
One of the many rewards of living in North Central Florida is our beautiful weather. Spending time with Mother Nature offers a wide variety of benefits including helping people to fight off depression and stress, as well as increasing focus and improving the immune system. Research has shown that merely viewing scenes of nature can increase pleasant feelings and reduce anger, fear and stress. So getting outside not only makes us feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to our physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones. Now, with spring in the air, it is time to leave the house and enjoy the great outdoors – and why not start in your own backyard? Invite your friends or grab a good book and relax under a shady tree by yourself. Set up a swing or hammock and kick back and enjoy all that nature has to offer.