April 2012

Florida-Friendly Yard (Landscape) Recognition

by Lynn Barber

Do you want to make your neighbors green with envy because of the beauty of your landscape? Here’s how…the University of Florida’s Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL)TM program provides recognition to homeowners, businesses, and governmental entities that use environmentally friendly gardening and landscape maintenance practices. Florida-Friendly Yards incorporate the nine FFL principles, which include: Right Plant-Right Place, Water Efficiently, Fertilize Appropriately, Mulch, Attract Wildlife, Manage Yard Pests Responsibly, Recycle, Reduce Stormwater Runoff, and Protect the Waterfront.

There is no one cookie-cutter landscape design to achieve Florida-Friendly Yard Recognition status. You can readily see why by viewing the University of Florida’s FFL Yard Recognition photo gallery: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/recognitions.htm. Notice how different the landscapes are—some are manicured, some more natural, and others are quite non-conventional. Landscape plants should be appropriate for your zone. Landscape maintenance is the criterion that determines if it is Florida-Friendly. Exotic, invasive plants should not be used. The IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants can be found at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/conclusions.html. This assessment lists plants that have been determined to be invasive and should not be part of your landscape.

All recognized landscapes are evaluated via checklist initially by the homeowner, business, or governmental entity by thoroughly completing the form. Homeowner yards are evaluated based on a checklist located at: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/materials/FYN_Yard_Recognition_Checklist_2010.pdf. For newly constructed commercial, governmental, multi-family, and single family construction, utilize the form at: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/B_and_D_Checklist.pdf.

Yard Advisors that are Urban Horticulture staff/agents and Master Gardener volunteers review the completed checklist, schedule a meeting with the property owner, evaluate the landscape, and provide their feedback on the same type checklist that was completed by the owner. Having all parties walk the landscape together and discuss it provides a great educational opportunity. To receive Yard Recognition, the landscape must meet the minimum requirements and achieve at least 50 points.

What’s in this for you? It’s a lovely sign that recognizes your landscape as a Florida-Friendly Recognized Yard and a landscape that helps beautify your neighborhood and preserve Florida’s natural resources. As always, follow the landscape or architectural control procedures in your deed restrictions before making changes. Contact your local Extension office to determine if they are a participating Yard Recognition county. For more information on environmental horticulture, contact your local Extension office and visit the University of Florida website: http://solutionsforyourlife.com.

Lynn Barber is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping Agent with Florida Yards & Neighborhoods at the Hillsborough County Extension service in Seffner, Florida. More gardening information is available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.