Friday, January 28, 2022

Helping Florida One Yard at a Time



With the water situation in Florida getting worse each year and the water rates going up almost as fast as gas prices, the general public – not only serious gardeners and those involved in the green industry here in Florida – need to take into consideration the water needs of all new landscaping plantings.

I don’t think we will ever run out of water, but it may get so expensive that many people will not be able to afford to irrigate their landscape at all. I suggest we all consider moving towards Florida Friendly Landscaping. Developed by the University of Florida and implemented by county extension offices, Florida Friendly is designed to help reduce water use and pollution, but will also save you time and money.

I’m not saying we need to plant all native plants because there are a lot of tropical ornamental plants that have similar water requirements and can coexist in a garden well together. Just remember to arrange all your drought tolerant plants together and the ones that need water together, keeping all the little fellows happy (“right plant, right place”) one of (FFL) nine principals.

At the same time, when using natives in your landscape that does not mean you just plant and walk away. All plants need a period of time for a little extra care when first planted until they get established and are thriving. New growth on a plant usually alerts the gardener that the new planting has settled in and is happy in its new spot.

Let’s dispel the myth that just because you use native plants you don’t have to water or prune. Native plants will need to be trimmed back from time to time, depending on their location. In general, they do use less water, but some actually may need more water because they are waterside plants. For instance, swamp hibiscus likes to sit in or near water.

In addition to their other virtues, native plants will use less fertilizer. Actually, I don’t use any in my garden. I have never fertilized any of the many natives I have throughout my garden. They are quite happy living amongst the sand, rock and sea shells. Using less irrigation will also help to reduce water runoff, which carries all the ground pollutants (fertilizer, oil, gas) into our numerous waterways. This is called “non-point source water pollution” – considered the worst pollutant of all.

In the future let’s all try to be a little kinder to our beautiful Florida environment, not to mention our vast diversity of wildlife, by planting more native plants that provide food and shelter for them.

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The Florida-Friendly Landscaping program encourages homeowners to water efficiently, mulch, recycle and select the most environmentally friendly way to control pests and protect our water bodies.

Florida Senate Bill SB2080

In July 2009, Governor Crist signed into law a bill that has changed the way homeowners can landscape their homes in order to save water and become more Florida Friendly. It requires Water Management Districts to provide a model of Florida Friendly landscaping ordinances to local governments; each district shall use the materials developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Florida/IFAS. Some highlights in the bill are a deed restriction, or covenant, that allows any property owner to implement FFL despite what local government ordinances or community developments may have written into their governing statutes.

So now you can TAKE OUT THE GRASS legally and put something in the space between the curb and sidewalk that needs no water, like perennial peanut or Beach Sunflower. This would be a good start to improve the environment and increase awareness of what happens when you spread fertilizer on or near a sidewalk, driveway or street. You can only imagine how much fertilizer is misdirected and washed into our drains and our waterways every year.

You can find out more information by looking on your computer and typing in Senate bill 2080.

Remember we all moved to south Florida because we thought it was so beautiful.

Well let’s stop trying to change it. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!


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