There are 9 Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles which help both landowners and nature alike? We at Tending to His Garden, aim to provide our friends and fellow Florida residents with information beneficial to landscaping and nature. Today we’re going to tackle a very special topic essential to any landscaping design and landscape in general, with the 9 Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles. If you would like to know about the different types of landscapes and gardens, we have an article for you.


First Principle: Right Plant, Right Place

To achieve a healthy, low-maintenance home landscape, you need to start by putting the right plant in the right place. Also, do not forget about selecting Florida-friendly plants and turfgrass that match a location’s soil, light, water, and conditions. Remember to purchase quality plants that welcome wildlife, consider mature plant size when you make your purchase, and aim for a diversity of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers.

When these plants are established, they will require minimal amounts of supplemental water, fertilizer, or pesticides, saving you both precious time and money. Let us help stop the spread of invasive plants by removing them from your yard—see the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas.

What are the benefits?

  • Plants will mature to the desired size and will require less pruning
  • Once established, plants require a limited amount of supplemental irrigation
  • The plants that are planted in the correct soil type and pH need fewer nutrient additives
  • Planting pest-resistant plants equates to fewer applications of pesticides
  • You and your family members might appreciate the landscape will always have an acceptable appearance

Second Principle: Water Efficiently

Remember that an efficient irrigation system will conserve water and helps to ensure that fertilizer and other pollution doesn’t flow into water bodies.  A highly-functional irrigation system uses a rain shutoff device to prevent irrigation after a rain event, irrigates based on the needs of the plants, uses micro-irrigation in the landscape beds and is checked regularly for leaks and overspray. Be sure to calibrate your irrigation system for the utmost efficiency.

Benefits of watering efficiently:

  • Irrigation water is applied correctly and is more accessible to the plants
  • Efficient irrigation translates to less water is used thus your water bill may decrease
  • There’s a chance you will be more satisfied with the appearance of your yard
  • There will be less runoff and nutrient leaching from the site

Third Principle: Fertilize Appropriately

Nutrients are needed by all plants to grow.  These plants usually get nutrients from the soil, but there will be times when supplemental nutrients will help them thrive.  Correct fertilization enhances growth, increases flowering or fruiting, corrects nutritional deficiencies, and enhances the appearance of plants.

On the other hand, Improper fertilization can cause damage to plants and the environment.  Remember to fertilize according to UF/IFAS recommended rates and application timings to prevent nutrient runoff and leaching which can pollute Florida’s waters.  Also, follow the fertilizer label directions.  Lastly, make sure to follow any local fertilizer ordinances and ensure your landscape professional is a licensed fertilizer applicator.

What are the benefits of fertilizing appropriately?

  • The plant material has the correct color/appearance
  • These plants will flower and fruit appropriately
  • Both ground and surface waters are protected from pollution
  • Turfgrass has adequate nutrients to grow appropriately to represent the species
  • You may be more satisfied with the performance of the landscape plants and turfgrass

Fourth Principle: Mulch

Mulch greatly helps retain soil moisture, protects plants, and inhibits weed growth. It also provides your landscape with a neat, uniform appearance and is a great Florida-Friendly choice for hard-to-mow areas and shady spots. Remember to keep a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch on plant beds.

Also, always leave at least 2 inches of space around tree trunks to prevent rot which you don’t want to happen. Create self-mulching areas under your trees by allowing the fallen leaves to stay in place. Make sure that you choose sustainably harvested mulch like melaleuca, pine straw, or eucalyptus.

Benefits of Mulch in a Nutshell:

  • Mulch will effectively reduce the germination of weeds
  • Using mulch, you will be able to retain soil moisture
  • Mulch gives your landscape a finished appearance
  • As organic mulch decomposes, mulch improves soil structure
  • Mulch moderates soil temperatures, keeping the soil cool when the temperature is hot, and warm when the temperature is cold.

 Fifth Principle: Attract Wildlife

There are a lot of Floridians that are designing landscapes which welcome wildlife. Remember to select plants with seeds, fruit, foliage, flowers, or berries that provide food. Also, supply sources of water, such as a rain garden or birdbath.

Leave dead trees or snags, if they do not create a hazard for birds to perch and nest. Add plants which increases vertical layering to provide more cover and feeding for wild critters.

Build a bat house or plant host plants for butterflies, to attract these Floridian friends to your yard. Reducing insecticide use can be good for you, native animals and beneficial insects.

These Are the Benefits of Attracting Wildlife:

  • Both you and your community may observe various wildlife species
  • There will be an increased habitat area that support Florida’s wildlife
  • Wildlife might control some landscape pests
  • Insects are beneficial since help reduce pests and may help pollinate your flowers

Sixth Principle: Manage Yard Pests Responsibly

Integrated Pest Management or better known as IPM is a strategy that helps gardeners manage pests with as few chemicals as possible. in order to prevent disease and insect outbreaks, it is essential to select pest-resistant plants and put them in suitable locations.

When problems arise, remove the affected leaves or plant parts, or pick the insects off by hand. Avoid overtreating, spot-treat only rather than blanket spraying, and use selective rather than broad-spectrum insecticides. Remember to read and follow insecticide label instructions.

The Benefits of Managing Yard Pests Responsibly Are as Follows:

  • Protecting populations of beneficial insects aid to keep pests under control
  • By using the least toxic products first, you help protect the environment
  • Lessening pesticide use on your property is healthier for your family, pets, and the environment
  • Reducing chemical use saves money

Seventh Principle: Recycle Yard Waste

Landscape maintenance activities including mowing, pruning and raking help ensure the health of your landscape, but also generates yard waste. Remember to keep as much of this material onsite as possible to conserve nutrients and reduce the amount of energy required to move it from place to place. The decomposing organic matter release essential 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.

What Are the Benefits of Recycling Yard Waste?

  • less material will need to be hauled away
  • The nutrients from both grass clippings and leaves are recycled and stay onsite
  • Compost may provide a source of rich organic matter to add to landscape plantings
  • Uncomposted leaves and pine straw can be used as mulch, reducing the need to purchase

Eight Principle: Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Fertilizers, pesticides, debris and eroded soil carried in stormwater can wreak havoc on our water quality. Also, stormwater control features can be a beautiful addition to your landscape. Creating shallow rain gardens or shaping the earth on slopes with berms (rises) and swales (dips), can help slow runoff from heavy rains and allow the water time to soak into the ground. If it’s possible, maintain permeable walkways, driveways and patios to allow rain to soak into the ground.

Benefits of Reducing Stormwater Runoff:

  • Most of the stormwater remains onsite and is filtered through plants and soil, reducing pollution coming from the landscape
  • Captured water can be used to irrigate landscape plants
  • Stormwater management protects the landscape from erosion
  • Your healthy landscape may protect the quality of Florida’s waters

Principle 9: Protect the Watefront

Florida boasts more than 10,000 miles of rivers and streams, about 7,800 lakes, more than 1,000 freshwater springs, and the U.S.’s second-longest coastline. One of the most important steps you can take to protect any water body is maintaining a waterside 10-foot “low-maintenance zone.”

Do not mow, fertilize, or use pesticides in this zone. Protect native aquatic plants such as giant bulrush and maiden cane and remove invasive exotic species like water hyacinth and purple loosestrife. A stormwater pond or canal can become an aesthetically pleasing and lively place, edged with plants and home to wildlife.

What Are the Benefits of Protecting the Waterfront:

  • The low-maintenance zone means less mowing
  • You may see increased wildlife activity with the addition of shoreline plants
  • Flood-tolerant plants along the water’s edge are known to help reduce contaminants in water
  • The diversity of flowering and other plants enhances the beauty of the waterfront

We would like to emphasize that as a responsible Florida owner, we need to think about everything all around us, including birds, nature, the trees etc. We do hope that you discovered something new with the 9 Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles and if you are looking for someone to help you in setting up your dream landscape, don’t hesitate to contact us at (941)809-4333 or drop us an email at Thank you and god bless!