2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Horticulture, Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL)
L. Sanderson, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell, FL
Situation. Sumter County, Florida, is home to a significant part of The Villages, which is identified as one of the largest retirement communities in the country. The newest community of the Villages has become home to many of the newest residents of The Villages who are often from other states or countries and are unaware of Florida’s fragile ecosystem and water resources, including those found in Sumter County. Methods. A free program, WISER Lawns and Landscapes for New Residents, has been offered at two locations each month. This program covers topics designed to educate residents on best management practices for efficiently watering lawns and landscapes, on implementing integrated pest management, and using proper fertilization practices. Improper use of these practices can adversely affect water resources. Residents learn through this workshop how to conserve and protect water resources. Results. The Villages residents responded to a Qualtrics survey (n=174) which documented a change in behavior resulting in potential water savings and other practices which may lead to protection of water resources. As a result of participant changes in water-saving practices (n=100), they demonstrated an estimated water savings of 3,049,913 gallons of water which represents a water savings value of $10,552.20 based on $3.45 per 1,000 gallons. Participants changed behavior related to pesticide use including identifying a pest before spraying (n=47), reading and following the label before applying the product (n=58), and match the correct pesticide for the pest (n=46). As a result of fertilizer changes, participants (n=80) minimize fertilization in the winter months, and some use a slow or controlled release fertilizer on landscape plants (n=56). Conclusion. New residents of The Villages can adopt irrigation, pesticide and fertilization best management practices which lead to significant water conservation and protection.