Florida Yards & Neighborhoods
Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles
- Right Plant, Right Place
- Water Efficiently
- Fertilize as Needed
- Attract Wildlife
- Control Pests Responsibly
- Reduce Stormwater Runoff
- Protect the Waterfront
Good landscape design hinges on one basic concept - the right plant in the right place. Careful planning and site evaluation are the first steps in applying this concept.
Florida is a diverse state which includes climatic zones. Soil types, temperature ranges and rainfall patterns differ dramatically from region to region. Different conditions often exist in the same yard.
A truly efficient way to use water in a yard is to design a landscape that subsists predominantly on rainfall. Even if your yard has a lawn and specialty gardens, it is possible to design it as a Florida-Friendly Yard.
However, even an ideal landscape can be over-watered. It is extremely important that you irrigate to meet the needs of the plants in that area. For example, a lawn in full sun will demand more frequent irrigation than an established plant bed of drought-tolerant shrubs and groundcovers.
Many trees and landscape plants demand little or no fertilizer once they are established and mature. When over-applied, fertilizers aggravate insect and disease problems and force excessive growth which must be mowed or pruned. Excess fertilizers can run off yards into waterways or leach into aquifers, polluting drinking water.
Mulch keeps moisture in the soil, moderates soil temperature and reduces erosion and weeds. Keep a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch over the roots of trees and shrubs and in plant beds. Create self-mulching areas under trees where leaves can stay where they fall. Use by-product or alternative mulches such as pine bark, eucalyptus and melaleuca, or use recycled mulches when available from your community.
- Download our mulch brochure (759KB pdf)
With more than 1,200 kinds of animals, Florida ranks third in the nation in wildlife diversity. Providing adequate food, water and shelter can increase the number and variety of species that live in your yard.
It is unrealistic and un-wise to strive for an insect-free yard. Many insects are beneficial, helping to keep pests naturally under control. More and more, communities and individuals are successfully managing pests by protecting beneficials and reducing the use of pesticides (known as Integrated Pest Management).
In a Florida Yard, grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings are recycled rather than thrown away. By recycling yard debris, we gain free mulch and return valuable nutrients to the soil.
Keeping rain and sprinkler water on our yards - and out of storm drains - reduces pollution of our bays, rivers and lakes. Ways to reduce runoff include directing downspouts onto lawns or landscaped beds, using rain barrels to collect rain water for irrigation and using pervious materials such as gravel or mulch for driveways and paths.
Bays and waterways make a special contribution to our quality of life, but these natural treasures can also be very fragile. Remove invasive exotic plants and replace with appropriate natives or other non-invasive exotics. Create a 10' to 20' "buffer zone" to the shoreline where no chemicals are applied.