By KATHERINE MUNSON,
Coordinator, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Spring kicks off the 30th anniversary of Florida-Friendly Landscaping, the state’s premier program that promotes sustainable alternatives to conventional landscaping.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping provides guidance on low impact, environmentally friendly, science-based landscape practices that use less water and reduce pollutants entering Florida’s waters. Southwest Florida Water Management District Senior Communications Coordinator Katherine Munson explains how the program works.
QUESTION: What is Florida-Friendly Landscaping?
ANSWER: Florida-Friendly Landscaping is a set of nine guiding principles which help protect natural resources and preserve Florida’s unique beauty.
A Florida-friendly landscape is beautiful yet saves water and protects the environment, too.
Q: What are the nine guiding principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping?
A: The nine guiding principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping are right plant, right place; water efficiently; fertilize appropriately; mulch; attract wildlife; manage yard pests responsibly; recycle yard waste; reduce stormwater runoff; and protect the waterfront.
Q: What does a Florida-friendly landscape look like?
A: Florida-Friendly Landscaping is about matching the right plant with the right place and providing the right care at the right time.
Well-designed Florida-friendly landscapes look vibrant and attractive, while using less water, fertilizer and pesticides.
A typical Florida-friendly landscape provides a diversity of vegetation appropriate to the conditions of a yard or site and may include turfgrass and landscaped beds with trees, shrubs, grasses, and groundcovers.
Q: Why doesn’t the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program promote using only native plants?
A: The Florida-Friendly Landscaping program emphasizes always matching the right plant with the right place, regardless of whether it is native or not.
However, a plant’s native status does not automatically mean it will thrive in all parts of Florida, especially in developed urban environments.
Q: Can my Homeowners Association prohibit me from using a Florida-friendly landscape?
A: You can learn more on incorporating Florida-Friendly Landscaping into deed-restricted communities in the “Community Association Kit” at ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/community_association_kit.htm.
Q: Are rock yards recommended in Florida-Friendly Landscaping?
A: Rocks, or the use of artificial turf and rubber mulch, increase heat and may result in loss of habitat, or in habitat that does not support wildlife and are not recommended.
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping program recommends rocks or artificial materials be used sparingly in landscapes that have plants.
They also can be used for accents around heat-tolerant plants and trees, in rain gardens, or to lessen the impact of rainfall from roof overhangs.
Q: Where can I find a list of Florida-friendly plants for my yard?
A: Check out the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design, which provides information on hundreds of plants.
You can order a free copy on the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Publications.
You also can access the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Plant Guide online at ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/plants or by downloading the free app on your smartphone.●
Katherine Munson is a Senior Communications Coordinator with the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Katherine assists with water conservation outreach efforts throughout the 16-county area as well as oversees the District’s youth education program.