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What’s Growing On: Florida-friendly landscaping

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:58 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - You see it in all the commercials. Everyone wants a lush, green yard, especially during the summer months.

But the green grass may not be as useful to your property as you think.

Senior Environmental Specialist Hollie Greer with the Alachua County Department of Environmental Protection emphasizes that “we want to move away from that idea of a resource-intensive, bright green lawn to something that’s more natural.”

The department emphasizes nine principles to have a Florida-friendly landscape, and all are aimed at reducing the number of resources we use and bringing animal habitats to our yards.

Alachua county adopted the code for Florida-friendly landscaping and provides assistance when there are misunderstandings of that code between homeowner’s associations and homeowners.

For example, neighborhoods that have turf grass requirements might not have realistic expectations for certain homes.

Hollie says sometimes grass “works because it’s the right plant in the right place. But if trees shade those areas over time and the HOA’s are still requiring homeowners to try to keep grass alive, it may not be the right plant in the right place anymore.”

That’s where the nine principles of Florida-friendly landscaping come into play.

One of those is utilizing mulch versus turf grass or sod.

Cynthia Leary is an IFAS Extension Agent who explains “Mulch is really gonna keep the moisture in the soil where the plant wants to access it and really reduce the amount of moisture you’re going to lose to the air, especially when we get our hot summers.”

Reducing the amount of moisture lost is essential to reducing water waste.

Jon and Suzi Graham are Gainesville homeowners who participate in a turf swap program.

The Grahams said they don’t water a lot of plants that they used to. Through the turf swap program, they leanred that most of the big plants around the house don’t need water at all once their foundation is built. For plants that do need water, the Grahams use drip irrigation underneath the mulch, which uses much less water, citing an 80% decrease in usage.

IFAS emphasizes planting native plants will also make your gardening experience leave less of a footprint.

For details on Florida-friendly landscaping, visit here.

The Alachua County Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Sale runs this Saturday from 8 AM to Noon at the Alachua County IFAS Extension Office.

Address: 22712 W. Newberry Road, Newberry, FL 32669

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