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) program provides recognition to homeowners, businesses and governmental entities that use environmentally friendly gardening and landscape maintenance practices.
Florida-Friendly landscapes 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 Landscape Recognition status. Some landscapes are manicured, some are more natural and others are quite nonconventional. Landscape plants should be appropriate for our zone, which in Hillsborough County is 9B. Landscape maintenance is evaluated to determine if it is Florida-Friendly. Exotic invasive plants should not be used.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Assessment of Non-Native Plants can be found at: https://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/. This assessment lists plants that have been determined to be invasive and should not be part of your landscape.
All landscapes are evaluated, and the initial evaluation is done by the homeowner, commercial entities or new construction entities who thoroughly complete the forms at https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/about-ffl/landscape-recognition/. Landscape advisors and urban horticulture staff/agents review the completed, submitted checklist; schedule a meeting with the property owner; evaluate the landscape; and provide feedback using the same checklist that was completed by the owner. Having all parties walk the landscape together provides a great educational opportunity to discuss landscape issues and potential solutions. To receive recognition, landscapes must meet the minimum requirements for each principle.
What’s in this for you? How about a lovely sign that promotes your landscape as Florida-Friendly Recognized, one that helps beautify your neighborhood while preserving Florida’s natural resources? The education provided during the on-site evaluation, when implemented, can help you save time, money and resources in your landscape. If you live in a deed-restricted community, follow the landscaping modification procedures in your restrictions before making changes.
For assistance with horticultural questions, call 744-5519 or visit us at UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County on 5339 County Rd. 579 in Seffner. See our calendar of events for upcoming horticulture-related programming at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/.