Katherine Munson is a senior communications coordinator with the District.

Homeowners in Florida know the scorching heat can wreak havoc on lawns and landscapes, which can increase your yard irrigation and your water bill. That’s why Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) is gaining in popularity.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s senior communications coordinator, Katherine Munson, explains here what Florida-Friendly Landscaping really means and the benefits it provides.

Q: What is Florida-Friendly Landscaping?

A: Florida-Friendly Landscaping is a set of nine guiding principles which help protect natural resources and preserve Florida’s unique beauty. A Florida-friendly landscape is beautiful yet saves water and protects the environment too.

Q: What are the nine guiding principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping?

A: The nine guiding principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping are right plant, right place; water efficiently; fertilize appropriately; mulch; attract wildlife; manage yard pests responsibly; recycle; reduce stormwater runoff; and protect the waterfront.

Q: Why doesn’t the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program promote using only native plants?

A: The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program emphasizes always matching the right plant with the right place, regardless of whether it is native or not. However, a plant’s native status does not automatically mean it will thrive in all parts of Florida, especially in developed urban environments. As long as gardeners avoid using invasive species, the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program allows for the inclusion of non-native landscape plants.

Q: Can my homeowner’s association (HOA) prohibit me from using a Florida-friendly landscape?

A: Yes, if the HOA review board is permitted to do so through its covenants or deed restrictions. An HOA may specify the options available to homeowners so long as the list of potential plants, turfgrasses and mulch options are suited to site-specific conditions that reflect the ‘right plant, right place’ principle of Florida-Friendly Landscaping.

You can learn more on incorporating Florida-Friendly Landscaping into deed-restricted communities in the FFL ‘Community Association Kit’ at ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/community_association_kit.htm.

Q: Where can I find a list of Florida-friendly plants for my yard?

A: Check out the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design, which provides information on hundreds of plants. You can order a free copy on the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s website at watermatters.org/resources/free-publications.

You can also review the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Plant Database at floridayards.org/fyplants/index.php, which is a searchable plant list that includes both native and non-native options.