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A Hummingbird feeds on a Native Honeysuckle.

Are You Florida-Friendly?

 

Learning to Landscape

If you are a gardener and you have lived anywhere else, you realize pretty quickly that Florida is different. The weather, the bugs and a whole lot of other gardening issues add to the difficulty. The key to these differences from other places is Florida’s unique environment. Learning to work within Florida’s specialize ecosystems takes special measures. We often look at gardening from the perspective of how it affects our outcomes and not how our cultural practices affect our environment. We can now combine those two goals and protect the environment while we keep a beautiful yard.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping can be colorful and often incorporates locally adapted plants as well as native plant varieties. Minimizing turf areas also helps to keep maintenance down.

Are you Florida-Friendly?

In Florida we call it Florida-Friendly Landscaping.  Part of the University of Florida’s Yards and Neighborhoods program; it was developed to address environmentally safe methods to landscape and maintain your yard. In 1981 the State of Colorado developed Xeriscaping based mostly on using drought resistant plants and conserving water. Xeriscaping soon became associated with cactus like plants and rocks and sometimes misrepresented as Zeroscape which sounded like xeriscape. The need to separate Florida’s specialized issues from the term Xeriscaping brought about the development of Florida-Friendly landscaping.

Nine principles to a healthier yard

Florida-Friendly Landscaping is based on 9 principles; most of which deals with protecting water. Although it may seems that Florida has a lot of water, it’s mainly water quality that gives us concern. You’ve probably heard of the water problems to the south in Lake Okeechobee and other coastal tributaries. Most of these problems involve algae blooms which come from nutrient overloads. These nutrient come from a lot of sources and Florida-Friendly Landscaping is designed to minimize these impacts while you create a beautiful yard.

Right Plant, Right Place

The core of the nine principles is Right Plant, Right Place. This first principle is the heart of many types of gardening. You may choose the right plant for your yard but you place it in the wrong place. You may place a plant in the right spot as far as growth habit and size but not realize the plant grows better in a totally different soil. How a plant performs will rely on how well it grows in heat or cold, how much water, or even how much light it requires. Ignoring any of these factors may give you the wrong results. Plants in the wrong spot may become unhealthy plants. To learn about the other 8 principles you can read this informative University of Florida article on Florida-Friendly Landscaping https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/nine_principles.htm.

An Adult Queen Butterflies visits a Tropical Milkweed at the same time as a Monarch, lower left. The Queen Butterfly, upper left, is in full display.

Attracting wildlife, such as this Queen and Monarch Butterfly, is the 5th principle of Florida-Friendly Landscaping. Healthy yards will be full of beneficial plants and pollinators.

Need gardening answers?

Do you have a plant question? The Master Gardeners are on stand-by at the UF/IFAS Extension office in Highlands County at 4509 George Blvd, in Sebring, between 9:30 and 3:30 Monday through Friday. Like my page on Facebook at Hometown Gardener to stay in touch or email me at davidaustin@ufl.edu. Read my other Blogs by clicking here.

 

 

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