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How can I create Florida-friendly landscaping?

Did you know? The lawn and plants around your home could be water wasters.

If they are not planted in the right place, or are the wrong type of plant for the conditions of your yard, you could be using a lot of water in an effort to keep them alive.

For example, you don't want to put a plant requiring some shade in a location that gets sun most of the day. It's going to look pretty wilted unless it gets lots of water!

The answer to your dilemma? A Florida-friendly landscape plan.

Adopting a plan for your home will not only save water, but it will cut down on the use of fertilizers and pesticides – which can harm nearby waterways.

Best of all, a Florida-friendly landscape is easier to maintain and will save you money (again, because you are using less water, fertilizers, and pesticides).

So… Ready to get started?

A good first step is finding out about the nine principles of Florida-friendly landscape:

  1. Right plant, right place
  2. Water efficiently
  3. Fertilize appropriately
  4. Mulch
  5. Attract wildlife
  6. Manage yard pests responsibly
  7. Recycle yard waste
  8. Reduce stormwater runoff
  9. Protect the waterfront

(Here's a video explaining in greater detail the nine principles.)

If you've hit information overload already, the folks at the Osceola County Extension Service can be a great resource. Not only do they have links to great publications on Florida-friendly landscapes, but they have volunteers called Master Gardeners who can answer your landscape questions. The Master Gardeners operate plant clinics from 9am to 3pm Monday through Friday at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office at Osceola Heritage Park, 1921 Kissimmee Valley Lane, Kissimmee.

Another good resource is the South Florida Water Management District – one of five districts overseeing water resources in the Sunshine State – which has links to a guide on Florida-friendly landscapes, and an instructional video.

If you want to see what your yard may look like with a Florida-friendly landscape plan, try out this cool interactive guide from Florida Yards. It will show you what type of plants are best for your yard, what they look like, and how much water they are going to use.

So, this all sounds good in practice, but does it really work? Yes! According to a study of water billing data in Southwest Florida by graduate students and professors at the University of Florida, homes using Florida-friendly landscapes cut their water bill in half, and savings were as high as 76 percent. Grab your gardening gloves and get started!

​Above: Asiatic Jasmine is used in this yard for a groundcover instead of grass.