Everything you need to know about the Florida-friendly program, but were afraid to ask: Part 2
5) There is quite a bit about landscape design included in the new, 104-page online and print book (The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design). Who is the intended audience and how will you market it?
The primary target of the new book is the homeowner, but the highest priority is the HOA landscape and architectural control committees, so they will have a good reference to what many FFL options look like.
We hope that this book will help to dispense with the notion that sustainable landscapes are necessarily weedy and unkempt. Many of the most beautiful gardens in the world were maintained in Charleston, in Europe, the Mideast, and other areas of the world for centuries before the advent of manufactured fertilizer, powered irrigation systems, or modern pesticides. Those things are a convenient help, no doubt, but we should not fall in love with them and be blinded to their disadvantages. The proper use of these products is discussed more in the FYN Handbook and in the Green Industry BMPs, which are written for the professional or advanced amateur horticulturist.
I would also strongly recommend to HOAs or anyone else the regional design guides on the UF/IFAS Florida Friendly Landscaping™ website that were produced by Dr. Gail Hansen, an assistant professor of Landscape Architecture, and her graduate student. Coupled with the color plant photos in the new Design Guide, they are a very powerful combination. (Editors' note: see below for the link to all the publications.)
Even if you don’t do it yourself, these references will be a great help in communicating your desires to a Registered Landscape Architect or landscape designer.
6) Is there any money (or plan) to try to get this information out specifically to HOA people, who often block homeowners from trying be more Florida Friendly?
Yes, we will be using the FYN Builder/Developer Program, run by Kathy Malone at the UF/IFAS Florida Friendly Landscaping™ Program office and funded by FDEP to do this. She works with special FYN-B & D extension agents in the larger counties, and with the regular FYN agents in the smaller counties, to reach out from the top down to get developers to use FFL principles from the beginning. This includes creating the covenants and restrictions for a development; working with individual builders to provide FYN yard and landscaping for new homes; and working with the HOAs and HOA management companies to ensure that Florida friendly policies are in place and help them make the conversion.
7) Also in the new Design Guide book, how did you make the decisions about which plants to recommend? I was pleased to see emphasis on eliminating invasive plants, but less than half of the almost 500 plants recommended are natives. I think many of our members would like to have seen more emphasis on the benefits of native plants for building habitat.
(Editors' note: This is NOT the view of Florida Native Plant Society. Yes, the native soil may have been removed from development sites, but there are many native plants that will grow well, even in these altered enviroments and there are ways to build the soil to create suitable planting sites for fussier natives requiring shade and rich soil. It is the society's view that it is well worth the effort to choose natives for the sake of our birds, butterflies, and other desireable wildlife to make our properties and our neighborhods functioning ecosystems. For example, see the previous post: When choosing plants, think food chain.)
Thanks very much for your time, Mike. This has been an education!
Go to the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Publications Web page to find links to these useful documents: (Note in particular the sample landscape designs and plant lists for the four different areas of our state.)
· The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design, 1st ed. (2010)
· How to convert a yard to Florida-Friendly Landscaping™
· Sample plant lists and designs for four Florida Regions—North, North Central, South Central, and South:
· FFL Book Zone 8A-8B
· FFL Book Zone 9A
· FFL Book Zone 9B
· FFL Book Zone 10
Feel free to print them out and distribute them to your local politicians, HOAs, churches, youth groups or any other folks who still might not understand the importance of responsible property management. Just because a property has always been managed in a certain way, doesn't mean that it's the Florida-friendly way. Let's go change some minds!
Also, if you have feedback for DEP (and we hope you do), click on this link to the DEP Customer Survey.