Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Sunshine 811 Unveils Tips for Keeping Your Yard Looking Its Best This Fall and Winter Season

Plus, Safe Digging Reminders and Ways to Avoid Dangers with Outdoor Projects

Summer may be officially over, but for Florida residents, yard and home improvement projects will be in full swing over the next several months. With cooler temperatures ahead, homeowners will be grabbing their gloves and tools to add landscaping, remove trees, install a fence or just spruce things up. Sunshine 811 and the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ (IFAS) Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program have teamed up to provide residents 10 tips for keeping their yards looking their best and digging safely this fall and winter season.

  1. Give your lawn a health checkup. Look closely for weeds and insects you may need to treat and also consider fertilizing.
  2. Sharpen up your landscaping. Take note of some of the best performing Florida-friendly plants to add during the next several months, including gardenias and Walter's viburnum. Visit www.FFLPlantGuide.com before you start planting.
  3. Spring forward. Think about what you’d love your yard to look like in the spring and plan ahead. If you’re looking to add more trees and shrubs, now is a great time to get started. Be sure to keep the upper roots level or slightly higher than the existing soil grade.
  4. Beware of roots. When you’re digging to plant or remove a tree stump, use caution as roots and stumps can be entangled with utility lines.
  5. Use caution when hand digging. This is one of the biggest causes of damage as foot pressure or sharp jabs with a shovel can easily damage buried lines.
  6. Contact 811 before you dig. Be sure to call at least two full business days before you start your project so utility lines can be located and marked. It’s the law and is intended to keep you and your home safe, and connected. 
  7. Make the call if you make contact. If you hit or damage a utility line, stop immediately and call your utility. Don’t attempt to fix or bury the damaged line.
  8. Water less. Adjust your watering schedule when it’s time. Only water when your landscape needs it and remember that over watering during the fall and winter can kill plants. 
  9. Avoid Mr. Freeze. Stay alert about potential freezes and consider what plants you may need to protect, including tender perennials, hibiscus and other fragile tropicals.
  10. Patch things up between you and your porch. It’s time to fix those cracks in the porch and loose boards on your deck and do some touch-up painting. Consider sprucing things up with some potted plants.

“For Floridians, these next few months are great to be outdoors, and work on yard and home improvement projects,” said Claire Lewis, interim director for the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Program. “As we transition seasonally, there are a lot of things to consider before you plant, upgrade, demo or do other things to your yard and outdoor space. From keeping your lawn healthy to adding mulch to your flower beds to getting that tree planted, the work homeowners do now will prepare them for a beautiful yard come spring. We also have experts who can help homeowners plan and plant their projects.”

“Everyone loves to beautify their yards, and we want homeowners to be safe when they’re actively digging. Landscaping and fencing are the most popular yard spruce-up activities, but combined, they cause the most damage to underground utility lines,” said Mark Sweet, Sunshine 811’s executive director. “Hitting a power, telecom or gas line happens about 65 times every day in Florida and can result in fines, service interruptions, street evacuations, injuries or even worse.”

811 can be accessed by dialing those numbers directly on your phone or by visiting Sunshine811.com and clicking “Create a Ticket.” When 811 is contacted, the organization alerts member utilities of a project so utility lines can be identified and marked first before digging. 

For more information about safe digging, the 811 process, and other tips and resources, visit Sunshine811.com. For more information about landscaping and planting, visit https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu.

About Sunshine 811
Celebrating 30 years of work to make Florida the safest place to dig, Sunshine 811 is the state’s go-to resource for education and training on safe digging practices. Sunshine 811 maintains a toll-free number and a 24/7 online system to notify its member utility companies of pending excavation projects so buried utility lines can be located and marked to protect the underground infrastructure. It’s the law to contact Sunshine 811 before any dig.

About UF/IFAS Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) program promotes sustainable alternatives to “conventional” landscaping by providing guidance to homeowners and industry professionals on low-impact, environmentally friendly and science-based landscape practices that use less water and reduce pollutant loading to Florida waters. Sponsored in part by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the overall goal of the FFL program is to reduce nonpoint source pollution through proper fertilization, irrigation, and pesticide use on residential and commercial landscapes.

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Contact Information:
Manuel Solis-Bauza
[email protected]
407-775-5840, Ext. 16


Original Source: Sunshine 811 Unveils Tips for Keeping Your Yard Looking Its Best This Fall and Winter Season
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