Florida Gardens and Landscapes: Local Extension Offices Are Here to Help You Succeed in your Personal Gardening Goals

Kathy LaFollett

Planting native species brings more success with less water, and fertilizer costs. Plants meant for Florida, thrive naturally in Florida.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Local News. Local foods. Local businesses. It’s a good time to remember that where we live has everything we need. Local extension offices play a vital role in disseminating knowledge and promoting best practices for living in your specific region. In 1862 President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act. It set up the Land Grant College system. A unique mission for university settings to educate their residents in agriculture, economics of home and city, mechanical arts and practical professions. For free. Practical applicable knowledge for a successful life, financially and emotionally. Agricultural clubs and societies were abundant after the American Revolution. Lincoln funded a societal push to thrive. Leveraging the wealth of expertise and resources available in academic institutions, these offices serve as a bridge between the research community and the public, fostering collaboration and sharing valuable information to address local needs and challenges. Your extension office is your access point for specific science backed skills and knowledge tailored with research-based advice. Local extension offices facilitate hands-on learning through workshops, seminars, and field demonstrations, allowing individuals to gain practical skills and apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations. Free for the asking.

As climate changes the rules, you'll be able to access the latest changes at your local extension office via web, phone, or in person.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Besides providing expert guidance, local extension offices contribute to the ongoing development and dissemination of innovative research. Fostering strong connections between university researchers, local businesses, and residents, these offices create an ecosystem where new ideas can be tested, refined, and implemented. National extension offices serve as a crucial link between research and real-world application, promoting sustainable and well-informed practices for living in harmony with our environment. Our tax dollars directly supporting the tax base. Extension services are available across the country connecting the public with non-biased research based recommendations. Find your office here. In Florida, you can find your county extension here.

What does Florida’s extension offices offer? Online classes, direct access to professors, and professionals in their category, local specific articles, information and links. They also have free intuitive browser and phone apps. The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) Program caters to homeowners, builders, developers, and the Green Industry, providing indispensable tools to cultivate thriving gardens and landscapes in the Sunshine State.

Residential gardens in Florida do best when using flowers, shrubs, and ground cover to synergistically grow with your edible plants.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Gardening Solutions

Creating an edible landscape can be cost-effective and straightforward with careful planning. Dive into the Sustainable Food Home Production series to learn the fundamentals of starting your edible garden, and enjoy vegetable gardening, from fresh air and sunshine, to exercise, mental therapy, and savings.

Our Florida climate allows for year-round vegetable cultivation and fruit production, with temperate fruits thriving in the north and tropical and subtropical fruits flourishing in the south. You’ll know what and where to grow with the help of the FFL program apps.

For lawns, proper site preparation is crucial, and factors such as shade, soil type, pH, drainage, and climate should be considered when choosing a turf grass. Landscape design is a dynamic art form, constantly evolving with plant growth, environmental conditions, and human interaction. Developing a master plan through a step-by-step design process ensures a successful aesthetic, function, and environmentally sustainable landscape. With the support of local extension offices and web and phone apps, Florida residents can stay on top of their gardening game, turning their visions into reality.

Butterflies are the early morning feeders looking for blossoms to enter their day. Healthy butterflies mean a healthy environment.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Plan a butterfly garden!

The UF/IFAS’s free Butterfly Gardens mobile web app helps you create a custom plant list with the Q&A format, browse 128 butterfly-attracting plants, and get expert tips on design and maintenance. The app includes a guide on 62 Florida butterflies, detailing flight periods, locations, and host plants. The Butterfly Gardens app is accessible from any device with internet. You’ll need to set up a free account for certain features.

Designed for mobile device browsers and desktop computers. Nothing to download. Internet connection is required.

Learn what your plants want, before deciding what plants you think you want.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Plan a local native landscape!

Discover over 450 Florida-friendly plants with the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ plant app, your ultimate companion for a vibrant, eco-conscious Florida garden. Find ideal native and ornamental plants for your area. Filter your choices by size, shape, flower hue, sun/shade preferences, and drought/water tolerance. A comprehensive guide to inspire your gardening journey as you cultivate your thriving Florida landscape.

Designed for mobile device app downloads in IOS and Android, as well as and desktop computers. Nothing to download. Internet connection is required.

Local residential bee gardens are the front line for pollinator success.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Support your local pollinators with a bee garden!

With the UF/IFAS free Bee Gardens mobile web app, you’ll generate a custom plant list through a Q&A format and browse 82 bee-attracting plants with color photos and essential details. Get expert advice on design and maintenance, and learn about 12 Florida bee groups, including their behavior and preferred plants. The Bee Gardens app is accessible from any device with internet. You’ll need to set up a free account for certain features.

Designed for mobile device browsers and desktop computers. Nothing to download. Internet connection is required.

Fertilizer and pesticide ordinances are in place, and change often, to support our interior waterways, and coastal water health.Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Florida Fertilizer Ordinances. It’s about your location. And the ordinances change.

Access your local fertilizer ordinances and view key restrictions and requirements. Search by address, city, or county with customizable map display, and enjoy Google Maps features on any device with internet access. This free web app, designed for both mobile and computer use, supports lawn care and landscaping plans with convenient, instant information.

The Florida Fertilizer Ordinances web app is accessible from any device with internet.

Designed for mobile device browsers and desktop computers. Nothing to download. Internet connection is required.

Your Extension Office has been around since the Revolution. It’s still revolutionary to have so much local, specific to you, help to make your Florida lifestyle shine, for free.

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Florida author, speaker, and wildlife/companion animal advocate writing about life in the Sunshine State from my cityscape, St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg, FL

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