Vegetable Gardens as an Addition to Your Landscape

Governor DeSantis approved Senate Bill 82 regarding residential vegetable gardens. This law is in effect as of July 1, 2019 and prohibits county, municipality or other political subdivisions from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. As per terms used in Florida Statutes 201.24, political subdivision is defined to include counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts, and all other districts in this state. See Florida Statutes 88.6011 at https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/88.6011.

CS/SB 82 — Vegetable Gardens by Rules Committee and Senator Bradley This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office and was prepared by: Community Affairs Committee (CA). CS/SB 82 prohibits a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. Any local ordinance or regulation regarding vegetable gardens on residential properties is void and unenforceable. The bill provides an exception for local ordinances or regulations of a general nature that do not specifically regulate vegetable gardens, including, but not limited to, regulations and ordinances relating to water use during drought conditions, fertilizer use, or control of invasive species. The bill defines the term “vegetable garden” as a plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated for human consumption.

The purpose of this article is to clarify to whom this does and does not apply. Based on our interpretation and a legal review, this legislation only speaks to local city and county ordinances that may address vegetable gardens. It does not address or affect homeowner association (HOA) or potential Community Development District (CDD) restrictions that may be present. HOA/CDD restrictions would still be enforceable. CDDs are not specifically designated as political subdivisions in that statute.

Many people will read this law and think it also applies to them as homeowner association residents and assume they can plant vegetable gardens in their landscapes. Note that the law prohibits county, municipality or other political subdivisions from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. CDDs are not specifically designated as political subdivisions in that statute. However, the language makes no mention of HOAs, deed restrictions, etc. If you live in a deed restricted community, please check your deed restrictions before planting a vegetable garden or when making other changes to your landscape. It may be easier and more economical to ask permission than to remove, replace or attempt to defend the changes you made. Follow the procedures in your HOA by completing the forms required, schedule to meet with your Homeowner Association or Architectural Review Board and present your case.

If you have questions regarding this information, please feel free to contact our office, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584, 813-744-5519. The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden in our courtyard is open during business hours and can provide you with ideas you may want to implement in your home landscape. We have a perennial garden behind our office that is charming, too. We hope you will be able to stop by, attend programs at our library plant clinics and our monthly compost, microirrigation and rainwater harvesting workshops. You can access our website and calendar of events at: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/.

Article by:
Lynn Barber, Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County
Nicole Pinson, Urban Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Program Coordinator