Save Time and Energy With a Florida-Friendly Yard

by DAVID AUSTIN, UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County

Is your yard and landscaping a joy or a nightmare? Are you frustrated with your plants not doing well? Has someone said, “That’s just Florida!”? Don’t fear, you don’t have a brown thumb; you just need a nudge in the right direction. Keep reading and we’ll tell you how. 

In the 70s, the folks in Colorado decided they needed to come up with a set of guidelines people could follow to have a well-maintained landscape that used very little water. They named it Xeriscaping. Xeri- from the Greek word dry, and scaping a play-off of the word landscaping. Basically, it meant landscaping with less water. It is still used today, but it didn’t translate into something that fit Florida’s environment. Florida had special needs and needed its own guidelines. 

Finding a special need, the University of Florida partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to develop the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL). From the onset of the program in 1993, FDEP has helped fund it with the assistance of the EPA under Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act. 

What this means for the homeowner is there is a template in place for you to have an aesthetically pleasing, easily maintained landscape that is more friendly on your back and Florida’s environment. Being Florida-Friendly doesn’t mean you have to give up beauty to have the colorful and pleasing yard you’ve always wanted. 

On April 20, join me and the Highlands County Master Gardener Volunteers at Robbins Nursery South in Sebring for my Annual Florida-Friendly Talk and Tour. I’ll explain the nine principles of FFL, and afterward, we will tour the nursery looking at and discussing FFL plants. The class is free, but please call the office at 863-402-6540 to register so we bring enough handouts. 

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