Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good Earth Day Celebration: Make Your Yard Earth-Friendly; Think How You Can Conserve Energy, Water and Pesticides on Landscape

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good Earth Day Celebration: Make Your Yard Earth-Friendly; Think How You Can Conserve Energy, Water and Pesticides on Landscape

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Brite DelValle

Many Earth Day celebrations are scheduled for this weekend since April 22 is the official Earth Day.

This is the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day; in 1970, the first was held on March 21 in San Francisco. That date was selected because it is the vernal equinox, the time night and day are equal, when the Earth is thought to be in harmony.

In 1969, Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson proposed a grassroots event on behalf of environmental concerns to be held annually the third week of April. Since then, activities and festivals have increased each year.

Jacksonville will celebrate Earth Day from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday at The Jacksonville Landing. This is a great family event with lots of educational activities for the kids and a wealth of information for adults on how to recycle, conserve and preserve our environment. There is free entertainment throughout the day. Check out the right whale obstacle course, rock climbing wall and more. For a list of activities and entertainers, go to earthdayjax.com/.

There are many things that you as a homeowner can do to promote Earth Day by creating a Florida-Friendly Landscape. Think about how you can change your landscape to conserve energy, fertilizer, pesticides and water.

Here are a few ideas on how to be Florida-Friendly:

THE RIGHT PLANTS

Identify the plants in your landscape and remove any of the invasive exotics. Chinese tallow tree, air potato, kudzu, coral ardisia, camphor tree, mimosa, cogongrass and Brazilian peppertree are all examples of exotic invasive plants. For a list and description of these plants, go to www.fleppc.org/index.cfm. Match them to the site and group plants that have similar water, light and maintenance needs.

Choose plants that require very little water and/or pruning once established. If plants require frequent pruning to maintain the appropriate height under a window or eave, move them to another area in the landscape where they are allowed to grow and replace them with a plant that will mature at the preferred height.

PLANT MORE TREES

Many trees need less supplemental irrigation once established and provide shade, which reduces energy bills. Carefully positioned trees around the home can reduce air-conditioning costs by up to 25 percent. They also filter the air, reduce stormwater runoff and provide a habitat for wildlife. Consider planting a native tree in your landscape that is adapted to your site: edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep007.

GROW EDIBLE PLANTS

Why not grow plants that have a dual purpose by planting fruits or vegetables in the landscape? It doesn't have to be a traditional vegetable garden. Fruit trees can double as shade trees and many vegetables can be mixed in to traditional plant beds. Blueberries, vegetables or herbs are also easy to grow in containers. …

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