Discover Florida: Flip My Yard Season 3 – A Must-Watch for Creating Sustainable Florida-Friendly Landscapes!

Introduction to Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL)

Whether you’ve recently moved to Florida or have lived here for years, you’ve likely faced gardening challenges. To help, local governments, regulatory agencies, landscaping professionals and University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Services (UF/IFAS) collaborated to create the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM (FFL) program. This program offers guidance on low-impact, environmentally friendly, science-based landscape practices that use less water and reduce pollution in Florida’s waters.

Success of the FFL Program

The FFL program has been a great success, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023 and even inspiring a television series on the Discover Florida channel. The series, “Flip My Florida Yard” features homeowners who are overwhelmed with managing their existing landscapes. The show works with UF/IFAS Extension Agents, Educators, FFL landscape designers, local nurseries and landscape professionals to transform their yard into functional, livable and sustainable outdoor spaces using the 9 principles of the FFL program. It’s a great way learn about the FFL program and how a Florida-Friendly yard can be designed to address common landscaping challenges.

My Experience on “Flip My Florida Yard”

I was fortunate to be a part of an episode, which is from Season 3. It was filmed in Sarasota County at a residence in North Port. The homeowners wanted to transform their backyard, which was largely comprised of a turf lawn installed in the 80s, into a sanctuary that attracts wildlife and supports pollinators. They also aimed to include functional recreational areas such as a firepit, seating area and raised garden beds. The property directly abuts Warm Mineral Springs Creek, a natural waterway in Sarasota County that provides overwintering habitat for manatees.

View of backyard largely devoid of inviting shaded areas for seating or landscaping to provide cover, food or nesting habitat for wildlife. Photo credit: Ashley Ellis.

 

Landscape after flip my yard.
Post-flip landscape showing sustainable sourced mulched beds, new plantings (layers of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and groundcovers that will provide habitat for wildlife), pathways and raised beds. Photo credit: Crawford Entertainment, Inc.

Enhancing Natural Shorelines

In the episode, you’ll learn how to properly manage invasive species on a shoreline and how to enhance natural shorelines with mangroves and upland buffers. These buffers are made up of native grasses like muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and sand cordgrass (Spartina bakeri), which have extensive roots systems that anchor soils and filter stormwater before it enters creek waters. This approach aligns with FFL Principle #9: Protect the Waterfront.

Supporting Local Wildlife

Over 700 plants were installed on site, with the vast majority being Florida natives to help support local wildlife like gopher tortoises, birds and pollinators. The backyard featured over 30 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers, creating diversity and vertical layers – two critical components for wildlife friendly landscapes, aligning with FFL Principle #5: Attract Wildlife. By utilizing native plants adapted to local soils, climate and pests you can reduce the need for supplemental irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides, which supports FFL Principles #2: Water Efficiently, #3: Fertilize Appropriately, and #6: Manage Yard Pests Responsibly.

gopher tortoise burrow
Native plants like gopher apple (Geobalanus oblongifolius) provide food for gopher tortoises and bunch grasses like muhlygrass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) help to provide cover for wildlife like the gopher tortoise pictured here. Photo credit: Ashley Ellis.
Landscape plan showcasing over 700 plants, permeable pathways and outdoor recreational areas.
Conceptual landscape and hardscape plan showcasing over 700 plants, permeable pathways and outdoor recreational areas, designed by RWA Engineering.

Mulching and Rainwater Harvesting

The finished landscape featured a 3-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture, regulate temperature, suppress weeds and build soil, aligning with FFL Principle #4: Mulch. Additionally, a rain barrel was installed to capture stormwater from the roof for irrigation, supporting FFL Principle #8: Reduce Stormwater Runoff. If you are local to the Sarasota area, register for an upcoming rain barrel workshop to learn more about benefits of capturing rain water and how to install a rain barrel. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County Eventbrite website, allowing you to take home a rain barrel after the workshop.

Right Plant, Right Place

Special consideration was given to install the right plant in the right place, following FFL Principle #1. This involved careful selection of plants based on their specific needs and the conditions of the site, such as sunlight, soil type, and moisture levels. Proper spacing was ensured to allow plants to mature without overcrowding, which reduces competition for resources and minimizes the need for over-pruning. Additionally, plants were strategically located away from structures to prevent potential storm damage and to maintain the integrity of both the landscape and the buildings. This thoughtful planning helps create a sustainable and low-maintenance landscape that thrives naturally in its environment.

How to Apply for Season 4

Inspired by what you see? If you’re a homeowner in Florida with a passion for gardening and a desire to transform your yard, now is your chance to be part of the next season! Here’s how you can apply:

  1. Visit the Show’s Website: Go to the “Flip My Yard” official website and navigate to the application section.
  2. Fill Out the Application Form: Provide details about your yard, including its current state and any challenges you face.
  3. Share Your Vision: Explain why you want to be featured on the show and what kind of transformation you envision for your yard.
  4. Submit Photos and Videos: Include recent photos and a short video of your yard to give the producers a clear idea of its potential.

Being selected for “Flip My Yard” not only transforms your landscape but also helps you contribute to Florida’s ecological well-being.

Final Thoughts

As a horticulture agent, I can’t stress enough the importance of adopting Florida-friendly landscaping practices. By watching the North Port episode of “Flip My Yard,” you’ll see firsthand how thoughtful design and sustainable practices can create a beautiful, functional, and eco-friendly yard.

Don’t miss out on this inspiring episode and the chance to apply for Season 4. Together, we can make Florida a greener, more beautiful place to live!

Sarasota County FFL Educator Forest Hecker, Master Gardener Volunteer and Sarasota County Residential Horticulture Agent, Ashley Ellis.
UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County FFL Educator Forest Hecker, Master Gardener Volunteer, Judith K. and Residential Horticulture Agent, Ashley Ellis still smiling after a long day of “flipping” the North Port yard, photo credit: Claire Lewis.

Resources

There are various outlets to learn more about the FFL program, including webinars, audio recordings, and a website dedicated to the program. At the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota Office, we offer in-person and online FFL classes to connect residents and communities with available resources aimed to create and maintain successful and sustainable landscapes. To register for an upcoming class, visit the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota Eventbrite page. You can also request a speaker to come and visit your community to learn more about FFL and various other topics by visiting our website.

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Ashley Ellis, Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator in Sarasota County.Forest Hecker, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Community Educator for Sarasota County's UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability Department.
Posted: June 24, 2024


Category: Conservation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Lawn, Pests & Disease, Turf, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, Water, Wildlife, Work & Life
Tags: FFL, Florida Friendly, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Native Plant, Pgm_HortRes, Sarasota County, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wildlife


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