Fyn Florida Yards & Neighborhoods

Nine Principles Of Florida-Friendly Landscaping

*Right Plant, Right Place
Plants selected to suit a specific site will require minimal amounts of water, fertilizer and pesticides.

*Water Efficiently
Irrigate only when your lawn and landscape need water. Efficient watering is key to a healthy Florida yard and conservation of limited resources.

*Fertilize Appropriately
Less is often best. Over-utilization of fertilizers can be unhealthy to your yard and environment.

Maintaining a 3" layer of mulch will help retain soil moisture, prevent erosion, and suppress weeds.

*Attract Wildlife
Plants in your yard that provide food, water, and shelter can conserve Florida’s diverse wildlife.

*Control Yard Pests Responsibly
Unwise use of pesticides can harm people, pets, beneficial organisms, and the environment.

Grass clippings, leaves, and yard trimmings recycled on site provide nutrients to the soil.

 *Reduce Water Runoff
Water running off from your yard can carry pollutants such as soil, debris, fertilizer and pesticides that can adversely impact water quality. Reduction of this runoff will prevent nonpoint source pollution.

*Protect the Waterfront
Gain understanding that everyone lives in a watershed that eventually flows into a waterbody. Every homeowner has an impact on our natural resources.

Principle 1:  Right Plant, Right Place

Locate plants in your yard based on their light, soil, cold hardiness, and water characteristics and the conditions in your yard. A plant that already has all it needs does not require additional water, pruning, fertilizers, or pesticides. This, in effect, saves water, protects our waterbodies, and saves you time and money. Video: Right Plant Right Place.

  • Learn the soil texture, pH and drainage in your yard.
  • Seminole County is in cold hardiness zone 9B.
  • To save water select and group drought-tolerant plants based on your site's natural soil, light, and water conditions.
  • Locate and space plants based on their full size to reduce pruning.
  • Help stop the spread of invasive plants by removing them from your yard.
  • Plant natives for their resiliency to Florida's climate and pests and because they attract wildlife.

Principle 2:   Water Efficiently

 A yard that thrives mainly on rainfall once plants are established conserves Florida's dwindling water resources (and saves money on your water bill).  Video: Water Efficiently

  • Water your lawn and plants only when they show signs of stress. Let your plants tell you when they need water.
  • Design or modify your sprinkler system to water your lawn separately from plant beds.
  • Group plants with similar water needs together.
  • Choose drought-tolerant plants for your landscape.
  • Use low-volume irrigation such as a drip or micro-spray system in your plant beds.
  • Put a rain gauge in your yard to track rainfall and avoid unnecessary watering.
  • Connect an automatic rain shutoff device to your sprinkler system (required by Florida state law).
  • Have a soil moisture sensor or other smart irrigation technology connected to your irrigation system.
  • Mow lawns high to encourage a deeper, more drought- and pest-tolerant root system.

Learn how long to set your sprinkler system through our quarterly Irrigation Run Time reminder. These changes can save thousands of gallons of water!

Principle 3:   Fertilize Appropriately

Using fertilizer appropriately reduces potential pest problems and maintenance requirements. Unnecessary fertilizer can burn root systems, make plants more susceptible to pests, and pollute our water supply.  Video: Fertilize Responsibly

  • Fertilize only if needed.
  • Choose fertilizers that contain 30% or more slow-release nitrogen.
  • Use slow-release fertilizer not exceeding the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square ft. during each application.
  • Use phosphorus-free fertilizer.
  • If needed, use iron (ferrous sulfate or chelated iron) instead of nitrogen to make your lawn green in the summer.
  • Use compost and other soil amendments to improve soil health.
  • Don't use weed and feed products that contain both fertilizer and herbicide together.

Principle 4:  Mulch Matters

Using mulch controls weeds and reduces erosion, water loss, and stormwater runoff. Video: Mulch Matters

  • Maintain 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the roots of trees, shrubs, and plant beds.
  • Leave at least 2 inches of space around the base of trees and plants when applying mulch.
  • Use mulch or groundcovers to replace grass in difficult-to-reach areas such as narrow strips between beds or in very shady spots.
  • Create self-mulching areas under trees where fallen leaves remain on the ground.
  • Choose recycled mulch or by-product alternatives (Melaleuca, leaves, pine needles, or bark), and avoid unsustainable cypress mulch.

Principle 5:   Attract Wildlife

Selecting plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife not only preserves Florida's unique biodiversity, but also makes your yard come alive with birds, butterflies, and other captivating animals. Video: Attract Wildlife

  • Plant native vines, shrubs, and trees that provide cover, nesting areas, and food.
  • Provide a water source, such as a bird bath or small pond.
  • Incorporate shelters like a birdhouse, bat house, brush pile, or snag (dead tree).

Principle 6:   Manage Yard Pests Responsibly

Managing insects, diseases, weeds, and other pests using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods allows you to reach optimum health in your landscape and minimizes the risk of pesticide contamination in your yard and in Florida's water supply. Video: Manage Yard Pests Responsibly

  • Choose pest resistant plants and keep them healthy.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing and over-watering, which can make plants more susceptible to pests and disease.
  • Check plants regularly for signs of pest problems. Early detection makes pest management much easier.
  • Avoid routine applications of pesticides. Apply pesticides only if and when needed.
  • Treat only affected areas rather than spraying your entire lawn or yard.
  • Be willing to accept some pest damage.
  • Provide habitat for beneficial insects.
  • Remove pest insects by hand.
  • Use environmentally friendly pest controls such as horticultural oils, Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), and insecticidal soaps.

Principle 7:   Recycle Yard Waste

Re-using natural yard material enriches your soil and saves money by reducing the need to buy many yard products such as mulches and fertilizers. Video: Recycle Yard Waste

  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn to recycle nitrogen.
  • Use fallen leaves and pine needles as mulch under trees and shrubs.
  • Create and maintain a compost pile with kitchen scraps and yard waste.

Principle 8:   Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Reducing stormwater runoff keeps pollutants out of waterways and conserves water in your yard.  Video: Tips on Reducing Stormwater Runoff

  • Direct downspouts and gutters to drain into the lawn, beds, or rain barrels and cisterns.
  • Use gravel, pavers, crushed shell, or mulch for walkways, patios, and driveways to absorb water and prevent runoff.
  • Create swales (low areas) or a rain garden to collect and filter rainwater.
  • Sweep grass clippings, fertilizer, and soil off driveways and streets back onto the lawn.
  • Remove trash from street gutters before it gets washed into storm drains.
  • Clean up oil spills and leaks on the driveway with kitty litter and then sweep it into the trash.
  • Pick up after your pets

Principle 9:   Protect the Waterfront

Protecting the delicate waterfront preserves our waterways as well as our native plants and wildlife. Video: Protect the Waterfront

  • Establish a 10 foot fertilizer- and pesticide-free area along your shoreline.
  • Remove invasive exotic plants from the water by cutting, pulling, or raking (check with your local Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission office first to find out if you need a permit).
  • Plant a buffer zone of low-maintenance plants between your lawn and the shoreline to absorb nutrients and provide a wildlife habitat.
  • Plant native aquatic vegetation in front of your seawall or along your shoreline.
  • When mowing lawn, orient the mower so that grass clippings are directed away from the waterbody.