Maintaining Coastal Landscapes
Special considerations must be taken to keep coastal landscapes looking their best.
In partnership with the Florida Master Gardeners, Escambia County has developed a free landscape guide to provide coastal homeowners with information regarding native species, planting techniques, maintenance concerns, and more. The guide is available online and as a brochure available at the Perdido Key Visitors Center.
All of the plants listed in the guide are approved for use under the Perdido Key Habitat Conservation Plan and provide benefits to native wildlife and pollinators. Info: nfo: MyEscambia.com /pkhcp or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, sourcing natives from local nurseries is a win for both the environment and the economy. Local landacapers familiar with native species can help with landscape design and function.
• Trim back shrubs and grasses in the fall and winter months and remove dead thatch and vegetation periodically. Aggressive groundcovers like dune sunflower (Helianthis debilis) and railroad vine (Ipomea sp.) may need frequent trimming throughout the growing season to avoid overtaking planting areas.
• ative plants described in this guide should need infrequent watering. However, drought conditions, summer storms, and other circumstances may necessitate periodic watering to keep your landscape looking its best.
• Install plantings in October-November) or March- April. This ensures plants have enough time to put down roots before the first freeze or scorching summer temperatures arrive. Gently break up the root ball when planting and trim back plants to encourage maximum root growth.
• Water plants daily for the first week after planting. Soil additives like Hydro-Gel can also be used to help sandy soils retain moisture.
• Surface drip irrigation is a great way to help plants get established, especially in the summer months.
• To deter pests and unwanted guests like snakes, keep shrubs and bushes trimmed up off the ground and periodically remove and dispose of dead limbs, plant debris and cuttings.
• Don’t leave pet food or fishing baits outside to avoid attracting unwanted visitors.
• Store buckets, wheelbarrows and other containers on their sides or inside to remove potential hiding spots for rodents and snakes.
• Most native species have adapted to frequent storms and will eventually regrow even after the most brutal of storms. Water frequently after a storm to remove salt buildup in the plant and rinse the soil.
• When possible, gently uncover buried plants after a storm and give them plenty of water to help them recover.
• A variety of snakes can be found on Perdido Key, including the venomous Water Moccasin or Cottonmouth. Dense vegetation creates ideal hiding places. Thin out vegetation near high traffic areas to reduce chance encounters.
• Using plants with runners and fibrous root systems help hold the sand in place. Denser plantings along paths and driveways can keep sand off walking surfaces. Plants can also help dissipate stormwater runoff.
• Use of pesticides and rodenticides is prohibited under the Perdido Key Habitat Conservation Plan. Non-lethal traps and non-chemical deterrents are allowed.
• Coastal plants support a wide range of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths (including the rare Gulf Coast Solitary Bee. Dune sunflower, Indian blanketflower and beach rosemary not only look great but are an important source of nectar.
• Using native plants decreases reliance on water, and smart watering helps reduce dependence on daily showers.
Pictured: Though ideal for holding sand in place, Railroad Vine runners can grow up to one foot a day in ideal conditions; A Monarch enjoys the late fall blooms on a local Sea Myrtle; Indian Blanketflower; Bunching grasses like sand cordgrass are ideal to keep sand in place.