Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Continuing our exploration of the difficulty of implementing NWF's six tips for a green garden...

Tip #4: Emphasize woody plants that capture more carbon than fleshy herbaceous species.
Tip #5:
Plant trees and shrubs where they will block winter winds and provide shade in summer.

I'm going to combine these two tips and explore them together, as they seem to go hand in hand. What this comes down to is choosing "woody plants" and planting them in the right places.

An important takeaway here is that "woody plants" doesn't have to mean trees. Much of what we've planted in My Florida Backyard falls into the category of bushes and perennial plants that develop those "woody" characteristics. Here are some examples that have worked well for us (all are native Florida plants):
Wait - lantana? That's a flower, right? Well, when you buy the nice small plants at the nursery, they are indeed tender and green. However, as they grow, they develop woody stems and become more like small shrubs, while continuing to put out flowers that attract butterflies in droves. After a growing season, you can cut these all the way back to the ground, and they will put out new tender green shoots that will eventually grow into woody shrubs again.

As for planting things in smart locations - we've planted Silver Buttonwood shrubs to help block the strong sun in a west-facing window, and a Firebush where it will grow and shelter the AC unit from southern exposure. We have several full-grown trees already, one of which provides some decent shade for the west side of the house. We've hestitated to plant any more trees, because we don't want to block our view of the lake.

Level of Difficulty: On the scale of 1 - 5 (5 being most difficult), I have to rate this as a 1. Choosing woody shrubs or trees and planting them appropriately is not that difficult.

To make things even easier, consider joining the Arbor Day Foundation. $10 gets you a 6-month membership and up to 10 free trees!

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