A yard review is your first step in maintaining all the things that attracted you to Florida in the first place. While gardens are a source of comfort and inspiration to many, they can also be a stressful confusing, expensive place if you are unfamiliar with what has already been planted and what might work as well, if not better that fits your aesthetic. It is especially confusing for new Florida residents for whom the climate is very different from where they were.
Is this you?
Having just moved to Florida, you’ve unpacked most of your stuff into the new home. It is not perfect, but it will do for now. You are itching to get outside to work on the yard. After all, you have heard that everything grows here and you can’t wait to grow the garden of your dreams.
But, you have questions.
- What does grow here?
- How much is an opinion going to cost?
- Who do I trust to tell me what is [reasonably] easy to maintain?
Valid questions all. And, ones you should ask, alongside how much sun does this yard get? And how many areas are wet/windy/shady/overgrown/thriving/failing/too close to the house…and more.
What if there is a set of principles already established for Florida gardeners to follow?
What if there are a group of people who will come in teams of 3 and offer an evaluation with a written report, FREE OF CHARGE? Experienced, personable, reliable, knowledgeable people whose information is research-based from a recognized reputable institution?
These people exist. They’re called Yarders, and they’re a subset of Master Gardeners. Trained and certified by the University of Florida, with ongoing continuing education annual requirements, these folks volunteer to share their knowledge to help residents, local governing bodies, and landscapers to follow the 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping.
While there are many benefits to requesting a yard review, here are the top three.
Benefits to a Yard Review
- Free. There is no charge for a yard review, though there are rules and an official process. This is not some “helpful” person wandering around your yard telling you what you ought to be doing. That’s your neighbor. The Yarders arrive in teams of 3. There is a team leader with two fellow Master Gardener Volunteers to review, research and recommend alternatives together. They have a formal procedure they follow; they do not enter your house; they strive for the utmost in professionalism.
- Unbiased, research-based information. Master Gardeners are trained by the University of Florida. They do not recommend products or vendors, nor do they offer an opinion on a service you are currently receiving.
- Protect and preserve our waters. Florida Friendly Landscaping Principles are specifically defined to have everyone on the same page to best protect and preserve our water supply including Florida’s aquifers, rivers and shores.
A yard review follows the same process for every property.
- Please email Evelyn Pankok to request an appointment. (You will need to connect via email)
- Once an appointment has been scheduled, the team leader assigned will reach out with a preliminary phone call.
- On the day, the team will arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment. They gather at the front of your property. Remember, they do not come into your home.
- They will walk the yard, and confer on recommendations. This can take around an hour.
- The team lead will then check back in with you and invite you to hear the results.
- The team will share their thoughts on how your yard fits in with the 9 Principles and what steps might be undertaken to further improve what you have.
- At this point, you, (as homeowner) may ask site-specific questions; the team will do their best to offer options for consideration. It will always be suggestions, never instructions.
- A letter will arrive within a few days with a full report.
- We always recommend soil samples be taken. The team lead will take them from you on the day of your appointment and drop them off at the UF Soil Testing Facility.
If you would like to have Master Gardener Volunteer team come and review your yard, please call (904)255-7450.
Florida-Friendly Landscapes are attractive, low-maintenance landscapes that protect our natural resources by conserving water, reducing pollution and waste, creating wildlife habitat and preventing soil erosion. Implementing FFL practices saves you time, money and energy.