2023 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Horticulture, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods, Florida Friendly Landscaping™
B. Moffis, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County, Tavares, FL, P. Jones, UF/IFAS Program for Resource Efficient Communities, Gainesville, FL, J. Kipp, Program for Resource Efficient Communities, P. Bohlen, University of Central Florida Biological Sciences, Orlando, FL, and B. Iannone, UF/IFAS School of Forestry, Fisheries, and Geomatic Science.
Situation: Residential landscapes impact natural resources as habitat loss decreases biodiversity, irrigation stresses water resources, inappropriate fertilization reduces water quality, and misapplied pesticides harms non-target organisms. While many Floridians are aware of the importance of these issues, landscape aesthetics continue to be prioritized over mitigation of these impacts. Methods: In 2022, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County partnered with the University of Central Florida, the UF/IFAS Program for Resource Efficient Communities, the Nature Conservancy, green industry partners, and developers to conduct a research educational session and tour at the third annual statewide Outside Collaborative conference. Our objective was to educate green industry and built-environment professionals on the residential development process and potential sustainable landscaping practices currently being evaluated in Sunbridge, a 33,000-home master planned community. Our team delivered a 90-minute lecture on preliminary research findings of sustainable landscaping efforts. The following day we guided participants through our living laboratory research sites where we are evaluating soil remediation, arthropod food webs, and drought tolerant landscaping methods. We administered a Qualtrics survey using a Likert scale to live and online conference attendees two- and six-weeks post event. Results: Fifty-six participants completed the survey, a response rate of fifty-seven percent. Based on the results, ninety-six percent of fifty-six respondents increased their knowledge regarding development processes, ninety-eight percent increased their knowledge on sustainable landscaping practices, and ninety-eight percent stated that they were encouraged to contribute to sustainable development and/or landscaping efforts because of the sessions. Additionally, eighty-three percent of forty-one respondents reported that the educational sessions provided new ideas for entrepreneurial opportunities. Conclusion: After the conference, one developer adopted a master managed landscape plan of the methods we discussed. A developer in Duval County is contemplating the adoption of similar practices, and Lake and Seminole County Commissioners are now considering the implementation of these landscaping approaches.