Autumn weather means that leaves will be falling, and this might make it a good time to reassess your landscape professional needs.
When choosing a landscaper, picking one who is well-versed in Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM practices can help you save money and help preserve the environment. When flora is planted and managed with locally focused, environmentally sustainable practices, they can live longer and resist pests. That means you spend less on replacement plants and pest control.
“Professionals who are educated in and practice Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ will set your landscape up for success,” said Tom Wichman, assistant director of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “You’ll support pollinators and preserving our ecosystem for future generations. It’s a win-win.”
When choosing a Florida-Friendly landscape professional, consider if they follow the nine Florida-Friendly principals:
- Right place, right time: Pick plants that match a site’s soil, light, water and climatic conditions for the best low-maintenance home landscape.
- Water efficiency: An efficient irrigation system conserves water and helps to ensure that fertilizer and other pollution doesn’t flow into water bodies.
- Fertilize appropriately: Proper fertilization when required, enhances growth, increases flowering or fruiting, corrects nutritional deficiencies, and can enhance the plant’s appearance. Improper fertilization can damage plants and the environment.
- Mulch: Mulch helps retain soil moisture, protects plants, and inhibits weed growth. It gives your landscape a neat, uniform appearance and will even add organic matter to our sandy soils as it breaks down.
- Attract wildlife: Select plants of varying heights and those that provide flowers, fruit and seeds as a food source for visiting wildlife. Supply sources of water, such as a rain garden or bird bath.
- Manage yard pests responsibly: To prevent disease and insect outbreaks, select pest-resistant plants and put them in suitable locations. When problems do arise, remove the affected leaves or plant parts, or pick the insects off by hand. These are integrated pest management practices.
- Recycle yard waste: Decomposing organic matter releases nutrients back to the soil in a form that plants can easily use. Using yard waste for composting is a sustainable way of creating organic fertilizer.
- Reduce stormwater runoff: Fertilizers, pesticides, debris, and eroded soil carried in stormwater can wreak havoc on our water quality. Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ seeks to retain and use as much of the rainfall and irrigation water that lands on our home landscapes as possible.
- Protect the waterfront: Florida boasts over 10,000 miles of rivers and streams, about 7,800 lakes, more than 700 freshwater springs, and the U.S.’s second-longest coastline.
When hiring a Florida-Friendly landscape professional, look to see if they are licensed and insured in these ways: Do they have workers’ compensation insurance, general liability insurance, a fertilizer applicator license and a pest control license. If they have additional beneficial certifications, even better! These can include the Green Industries Best Management Practices certification, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association certifications, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Certified Professional certification and the International Society of Arboriculture certification.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ provides a list of certified professionals for the public to utilize.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.
ABOUT THE FLORIDA-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPING PROGRAM
Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) program promotes sustainable alternatives to “conventional” landscaping by providing guidance to homeowners and industry professionals on low-impact, environmentally friendly and science-based landscape practices that use less water and reduce pollutant loading to Florida waters. Sponsored in part by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the overall goal of the FFL program is to reduce nonpoint source pollution through proper fertilization, irrigation, and pesticide use on residential and commercial landscapes.
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert
Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.