Florida Friendly Landscaping Guidelines

Florida Friendly Landscaping

Many people ask me what Florida Friendly Landscaping is. So far two law firms have asked me to testify as an expert witness for their clients (once for a homeowner being sued by the HOA, another to help the HOA win a case against a homeowner). The appearance of the design is subjective, but the guidelines aren’t. Here are the nine principals of Florida Friendly Landscaping. Keep in mind the idea behind this way of landscape design is to protect the environment. Below is just the basics. To read more on Florida Friendly Landscaping do a little more digging (for knowledge …that is)!

1. Right Plant in the Right Place. – Plants are like people in a way that they too have their likes and dislikes. Some plants like to be in the sun. These plants have adapted to this lifestyle, and they can handle the Florida heat in the full sunshine. Others do better in the shade (like most humans)… These plants will burn up in the full sun. Planting one of these shade lovers in the open sun can lead to either a dead plant, or a very high water bill trying to keep it alive. It is important to know which plant will do better in sun or shade before buying them. There are other factors to consider as well.

2. Water Efficiently. – Water is a limited resource, so it should be used only when needed. Using plants or turf that requires lots of water is not the way to water efficiently. Also, irrigation systems that use gallons per minute are also not the ideal way to meet this goal. Over watering and over fertilizing can lead to leaching. Over watering can also lead to water pollution.

3. Fertilize Appropriately. – Before you use fertilizers, make sure it is really needed. Some plants run low on only certain types of nutrients. Most established plants don’t need fertilizer, and if they are growing close to a lawn they are getting it from what is going on the lawn. Don’t just fertilize to do it. Only do it when it is needed.

4. Mulch. – The benefits of mulch go far beyond just aesthetics. Mulch can reduce weed germination (some better than others), reduces soil erosion, protect the plants in it, and improve the soil it breaks down in. A layer 3 inches deep is best to maintaining a low maintenance plant bed.

5. Attract Wildlife. – As rapid development has and continues to destroy wildlife habitats, You can do your part to preserve a place that was rightfully theirs. Using certain plants and other elements in your landscape design can attract birds, butterflies, turtles, frogs, squirrels and other native Floridians in need of food, shade and water.

6. Manage Yard Pests Responsibly. – There are other methods to pest control in the yard beside chemical. Some insects are actually our allies. Learn to identify them and encourage them to stay around. They will battle the harmful ones for you.

7. Recycle. – leaving grass clippings in the lawn returns the nutrients back into the ground, but if there is a lawn under an oak tree, the leaves from the tree could not be good for the grass. A mulch ring with acid loving plants would do better.

8. Reduce Storm Water Runoff. – Decisions you make in your yard’s landscape design will eventually effect the health of Florida’s water. The state of Florida is surrounded by water, and waterways run all through the state, and because the ground water is so close to the surface, there is a direct link between our ground water and the visible bodies of water. Storm water washes away yard debris, oil, chemicals, fertilizers and other harmful toxins off your lawn and into storm drains that carry it to …guess where?

9. Protect the Waterfront. – This is an extension of rule 8.

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