The 9 Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping – An Intro
Every single day, the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping are helping people in our community create vibrant, resilient yards and neighborhoods. These same 9 FFL Principles also help protect our water, and support Florida’s incredibly diverse wildlife too…
Wait… you don’t know about the 9 Principles of FFL?!?
Ok, let’s back up. Here’s the basic idea… Florida has everything from dry sandy “soil” to soggy swamps… add plenty of heat and humidity, not to mention bugs, plus the occasional hurricane or frost,… you get the idea. Florida can be a challenging place to maintain a good looking yard or landscape.
To make matters worse, many people “try to fit a square peg into a round hole,” meaning they’re attempting to grow plants that aren’t well-matched to their landscape’s natural conditions. As a result, a lot of landscapes provide more grief than enjoyment, and people believe (incorrectly) that a nice landscape requires a lot of fertilizer, water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.
The end result?
A lot of landscapes are effectively on perpetual “life-support”
…and a lot of water gets wasted;
…and many of Florida’s unique natural systems (like springs, rivers, wetlands, and coasts) are being gradually pushed out of balance.
Florida-Friendly – A better way…
The idea of Florida-Friendly Landscaping begins with the simple notion of “round peg, round hole,” a.k.a. “right plant, right place.”
In other words, if you choose the right plants, they won’t need as much irrigation, fertilizer, or pesticides. When your plants are happier and more “self-sufficient,” you’re happier, (your wallet is happier) and your corner of Florida is just a little more vibrant… (As a bonus, you can feel good about your landscape because you’ll be saving water, reducing nutrient pollution, and helping Florida’s unique wildlife thrive.)
“Sounds great – I’m ready to tear out all my turf! Which plants are Florida-Friendly?”
Whoa…slow down. Even within a single county like Pasco, there are a lot of different growing conditions and different aesthetic tastes… (let alone the entire state of Florida!) It would be impractical (and probably impossible) to give a “one-size-fits-all” list of plants that could easily define a “Florida-Friendly Landscape.”
In fact, it’s not just about which plants you use (and which ones you don’t.) Example: Many people will tell you that turf is frowned-upon for Florida-Friendly yards, but even St. Augustine turf can potentially be* 100% “Florida-Friendly.” (Trivia fact – Did you know that St. Augustinegrass is technically considered a Florida native plant?)
Whether a type of (turf/shrub/tree/flower, etc.) is “Florida-Friendly” ultimately depends on how you care for it, and whether it’s the right plant for that place.
Don’t believe me?
The Nine Principles – Your personal roadmap for success.
Rather than saying, “use these specific plants, and ‘POOF!’ you have a ‘Florida-Friendly’ yard,” the 9 Principles are a flexible ‘how-to’ guide that can work in any situation, as a way to achieve your individual landscaping goals. (i.e. How to chose your plants; how to water them efficiently; how to support wildlife; how to use mulch correctly; how to reduce runoff; etc…)
How about a few examples…
Let’s say you’re a builder, and you want to design great looking communities with vibrant landscapes. Or maybe you’re a homeowner looking to transform that “trouble spot” in your yard into something with real curb appeal. (Or maybe you just need to keep the HOA happy…) With proper plant selection, efficient watering methods, appropriate use of mulch, etc. you’ll get your yard looking good… without draining your wallet or the aquifer, and without constantly drenching the yard in pesticide, fungicide, etc.
Or maybe you want to create a pollinator paradise? Following the 9 Principles of FFL can help you put the flutter in your flowers and get some buzzing in your bushes! Plant selection and pollinator-safe pest control strategies are all part of the 9 Principles!
Excited about “going native?” The 9 Principles can serve as your guide here too! Remember – Just because a plant is native to Florida doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically thrive in every corner of Florida… you still need to follow right plant, right place… and you’ll want to provide the right care, especially until they’re well-established and able to fend for themselves. So, “which Florida” do you have?
Well, you get the idea…
By following the 9 Principles of FFL, you’d be able to select which native plants are the right native plants for your unique corner of Florida, and you’ll be able to get them established and keep them looking their best!
Your ideal landscape…
In other words, no matter what your landscape goals are, the 9 Principles of FFL will serve as your personal how-to guide to help you achieve your ideal landscape.
Because when your plants are happier, you’re happier, (your wallet is happier) and your corner of Florida is just a little more vibrant.
This post just barely scratched the surface. In upcoming blog posts, we’ll be diving into each of the principles one-by-one. So be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest posts!
The 9 Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping are:
- Right Plant, Right Place
- Water Efficiently
- Fertilize Appropriately
- Attract Wildlife
- Manage Yard Pests Responsibly
- Recycle Yard (and kitchen) Waste
- Reduce Stormwater Runoff
- Protect the Waterfront
REMEMBER – You’re not alone! Everyone at your local UF/IFAS Extension and Master Gardener team is here to help you! Soil tests, plant selection, pest questions – Ask us anything! Click here to find your local UF/IFAS Extension office!
About the Author: As the Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) Program Coordinator in Pasco County, Frank works with the residents, homebuilders, and businesses of Pasco to achieve attractive, resilient, low-maintenance yards and communities while reducing over-reliance on irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides. Through an innovative collaboration with Pasco County Utilities, Frank provides on-site assistance to individuals and communities identified as high water users. He can be reached at (813)929.2716.
Thirsty for more FFL knowledge? Check out some of my previous posts!
About UF/IFAS Extension: UF/IFAS Extension serves as a source of non-biased, research-based information for the residents, businesses, and communities of Florida, providing educational materials and programs for adults and youth. We proudly “provide solutions for your life.”
Come learn at one of our workshops! Check out our Eventbrite page for a list of upcoming events: bitly.com/eventbritepasco
UF/IFAS Extension Is An Equal Opportunity Institution.