This year more than ever, most of the country is under a relentless heat wave. Our area has been blessed with some much-needed rain but it only takes a couple of weeks with a dry spell to cause stress on your plants and lawn.
It is still a good idea to take steps that will ease the burden when these dry spells come about.
For example, make use of garden stones and create cozy pathways throughout your yard. The area taken up by the pathways will mean less lawn that needs to be watered and taken care of.
If you go a step further and build a patio area out of stepping stones or some other material, this will not only add functionality to your yard but it also will decrease the area of lawn you have to water and nurture.
You can use your new patio areas for a barbeque, entertaining or maybe just an area to place your dream patio set. With today's choices, you can create a living room effect outdoors and save water all the same time.
Here is another example of what you might consider doing to save water. In some of your remaining lawn areas, you can create islands containing native Florida plants that require little water. These beds can be either new additions or possibly even additions to existing beds.
Using the proper selection of plants, you can substantially reduce your watering needs. Next week, I will cover some plants that are great for dry conditions.
Your watering method can have a definite impact on how much water you use to do certain tasks.
For example, always water your shrubs and flowers by hand. Use an automatic shut off nozzle and water each plant individually. This is not only more water efficient but it also does a much better job than relying on sprinklers, where much of the water is diverted because of the foliage on the plant.
Hand watering allows you to get the water where it is needed without waste. Remember that it is important to preserve the precious gift of pure, fresh drinking water.
I have a lot of people ask about plants that are good for attracting butterflies. Milkweed is one such plant and in addition to attracting butterflies, it is also very colorful. Milkweed is noted for its ability to attract the Monarch butterfly. I have planted several in my yard and they will add a very exotic charm to your yard.
These delicate plants grow from 2- to 5-feet high and grow well in any kind of soil. They also require a minimal amount of water but I find I need to water mine about every other day to prevent a "droopy" look they sometimes get. The plants also have large seedpods that if left on the plant, will spread the plant to other areas of the garden.
If you do not want the plan to spread, you need to cut the pods off before they dry and open. The silk in the seedpods was actually used during World War II as filler for life jackets. That's a lot of milkweed.
Another common plant that is very colorful and attracts butterflies are pentas. They are available at almost all local garden centers and do very well in both sun and partial shade. They do like soil that retains moisture and they can be propagated from cuttings during spring. They also make great container plants.
I have several of these beauties scattered around the garden and they really offer a great color spectrum.
By planting these and other butterfly friendly plants, you can add the beautiful color of these delicate creatures to your yard.
Joe Zelenak has 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.