A New Address
John Prine, or “The Singing Mailman”, is one of my favorite musicians. The Signing Mailman delivered mail during the day and played music at open mic nights in Chicago. In addition, my grandfather was a mailman. He delivered mail nearly every day along a walking route in Northern Kentucky. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom” would prevent him from delivering mail along his 20-mile route. As a result, everyone knew my grandfather and he knew everyone-including their address.
Where Do You Live?
It may seem like a strange question, but where do you live? This is a common question I ask at our county extension programs. No, I do not deliver mail, nor do I want to know your address, but in the world of horticulture, it is important to consider where we live. Usually, when I ask this question, participants at the extension programs respond with answers relating to political boundaries, such as Nassau County, Florida, Callahan, Fernandina, etc. No, the answers are not wrong, but I want us to think a little differently. Specifically, I want us to think about our landscaping address.
Landscapes and the Watershed
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program
Whenever we are designing, planning, or maintaining our landscapes it is important to consider how our landscape is influenced by the environment. Equivalently, we should consider how our landscape decisions impact our environment. The first principle of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program is “Right Plant, Right Place”. This means we select landscape plants that are best suited to the environmental conditions of our landscape. For example, plants that thrive in full sun should be planted in full sun. Additionally, plants that do not thrive in heat should not be planted in warmer climates.
Selecting the right plant for the right place requires an understanding of the different environmental factors that influence plant selection. By following the first principle, we allow ourselves to select landscape plants that will naturally thrive in our environments. Just as our environment dictates our plant selections, our landscape management practices and decisions impact our environment.
Healthy Water Resources
All Floridians rely on healthy water resources. Florida’s water resources are unbelievably important for the environment, the state’s economy, and life. Our decisions, including our landscape practices, can impact our environment. Although, when we try to understand impacts on Florida’s water resources, it can be very difficult to identify our influences from the perspective of our political boundaries.
We’re All Connected
All our water resources are connected. Decisions upstream impact and influence water quality downstream. These impacts relate to water quality and quantity. A great example most individuals are aware of is the impacts of water quality and quantity in the Gulf of Mexico related to the Mississippi River. Poor landscape management decisions occurring in Bozeman, Montana, have an impact on water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. We call the large areas of land that drain their water together watersheds. Watersheds are geographically defined boundaries that go beyond our political boundaries.
Discovering Your Landscape Address
We can subdivide watersheds into smaller watersheds. For example, the Mississippi River is fed by the Snake River watershed, the Missouri River watershed, and the Ohio River watershed. To track watersheds, the United States Environmental Protection Agency standardized codes called a hydrologic unit code (HUC). The larger the HUC, the smaller the watershed. Locally, the St Mary’s River Watershed HUC is 03070204, and Nassau River’s watershed HUC is 03070205.
Although HUCs allow people within the field to codify watersheds, understanding that we all live within a watershed is more important. Our landscaping decisions, good or bad, directly influence our environment and everything within our watersheds. Therefore, when we are considering plant selection, we should follow the principle of right plant, right place. This significantly reduces maintenance, water requirements, and can nearly eliminate the use of fertilizers. In turn, we protect our water resources and have healthy landscapes.
Finding Your Watershed
To find your watershed, discover try EPA’s Surf Your Watershed Page. Start by entering your address and then it will take you to your watershed. You can then click and discover your watershed, surrounding watershed, learn about impairments, and discover your HUC address.
Still interested in learning more about watersheds? Check out this YouTube video:
So where do you live, what’s your landscape address, or the name of the watershed you live within? How does the environment determine your plant selection and how do your landscape management practices impact the environment? By following the principles of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program our old trees just grow stronger, and the old rivers grow wilder every day.
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