Floridians' Engagement in Landscape Best Practices to Protect Water Resources: Information from a 2018 Survey

A rain barrel used to water plants at the Indigo Green Store in Gainesville, Florida. Gardening, watering plants, sustainable living, UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

Extension programs are most effective when informed by a deep understanding of the target audience. To guide programs in Florida’s managed landscapes, especially pertaining to water quality and conservation, faculty from the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology conduct an annual statewide survey. The survey gathers data that includes common landscape elements, neighborhood characteristics, engagement in irrigation and fertilizer best practices, and learning preferences. This new 5-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication presents highlights from the 2018 statewide survey with recommendations for how to use the information. Written by Laura A. Warner, Esen Momol, Claire Lewis, Tom Wichman, Wendy Wilber, and A. J. Reisinger.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guidelines for Community Associations: Considerations for Selecting a Landscape Contractor and Writing an Effective Landscaping Contract

Figure 1. Any homeowner can independently adopt the Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices as long as they are consistent with HOA requirements and other restrictions. Credit: Michael Gutierrez, UF/IFAS

Florida-Friendly Landscaping protects Florida’s unique natural resources by conserving water, reducing waste and pollution, creating wildlife habitat, and preventing erosion. This 12-page document will help the reader with selecting and writing a landscape contract that follows Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles. Written by Adam Dale, Claire Lewis, Esen Momol, Don Rainey, John Bossart, C. J. Bain, Jen Marvin, Lynn Barber, Norman Leppla, Gary Knox, and Thomas T. Ankerson and published by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department, June 2018.

Perceptions of Florida-Friendly Landscapes: Linking Visual Quality and Environmental Health through Landscape Codes

plant beds with natural forms that require less trimming.
Early efforts to promote Florida-Friendly landscapes emphasized the use of drought-tolerant plants, which created a negative association with a visually unappealing landscape. This has hampered the promotion of FFL yards and the adoption by homeowner associations. But recently many homeowners are rethinking their landscape maintenance and plant choices and HOAs are considering promoting environmentally friendly landscapes but express uncertainty about recommending FFL because of the need to maintain visual quality. We conducted a study to address both groups’ concerns and help develop FFL-oriented landscape codes that meet both groups’ needs. This 7-page fact sheet was written by Gail Hansen, Laura Warner, Paul Monaghan, Emily Ott, Tim Fogarty, Claire Lewis, and Esen Momol, and published by the UF Department of Environmental Horticulture, April 2015.

Ten Strategies for Working With Your Home Owner Association to Convert to a Florida-Friendly Yard

Figure 13. Example of an image that clearly shows plant material.Many homeowners are beginning to rethink their landscapes for several reasons, including mandated water and fertilizer restrictions, increasing maintenance costs, and concern for the environment. But over sixty million people now live in neighborhoods governed by Homeowner Associations, whose regulations can make it difficult to implement some changes by mandating types of plants, percentages of turf and plant material, location of plant materials, and restricting specialty gardens to back yards. More environmentally sound landscapes are possible with careful planning and design and by using an educated and knowledgeable approach to working with the HOA board to gain approval for a new landscape. This 9-page fact sheet offers several strategies for working within HOA regulations to gain approval for a Florida-Friendly landscape. Written by Gail Hansen and Claire Lewis, and published by the UF Department of Environmental Horticulture, February 2015. (Photo credit: Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program)

Conducting a Blue Dye Demonstration to Teach Irrigation and Nutrient Management Principles in a Residential Landscape

Figure 5. This photo shows a comparison of the depth that the dye moves in clay soils (left) versus sandy soil (right). This publication discusses the “blue dye” test, which is one way that Extension professionals can show homeowners how water and nutrients move through the soil following irrigation. The information should be useful for county agents to demonstrate basic irrigation and nitrogen management practices and their effects on nitrate-nitrogen (N) leaching. This 4-page fact sheet was written by George Hochmuth, Laurie Trenholm, Esen Momol, Don Rainey, Claire Lewis, and Brian Niemann, and published by the UF Department of Soil and Water Science, November 2013.

The Role of Soil Management in Minimizing Water and Nutrient Losses from the Urban Landscape

Figure 2. Fill sand is typically added to a construction site to raise the elevation, resulting in the burial of the native soil profile. In this picture, note that various fill materials were applied in layers to establish the final grade.Soil is the most important building block of a healthy, attractive landscape, serving many important physical, chemical, and biological functions. Soil provides a physical substrate for plant support and holds nutrients and water for plant use. It also facilitates groundwater recharge (water moving from surface water to groundwater) and provides long-term storage for organic matter. Soil also provides a habitat for microorganisms that aid in the transformation and availability of nutrients. Soil is an integral part of any ecosystem, but urbanization often changes soils in ways that negatively affect plant development. Soils in urban areas may have reduced water infiltration, resulting in increased runoff and increased potential for nutrient losses. Homeowners in urban areas often overcompensate for poor planting conditions by applying inappropriate amounts of fertilizer and water. These practices eventually lead to nutrient losses through stormwater runoff or soil leaching, and these lost nutrients negatively impact groundwater and ecosystems in nearby springs, streams, and water bodies. This 6-page fact sheet was written by George Hochmuth, Laurie Trenholm, Esen Momol, Don Rainey, Claire Lewis, and Brian Niemann, and published by the UF Department of Soil and Water Science, November 2013.

Maximizing the Benefits of Reclaimed Water for Irrigating the Landscape and Protecting the Environment

Figure 1. Reclaimed water reuse storage tank. Credits: Shanin Speas, FDEPReclaimed water is water that has been treated in municipal wastewater facilities and is safe to use for designated purposes, including residential landscape irrigation. “Water reuse” is the term used to describe the beneficial application of reclaimed water. Approximately 663 million gallons of reclaimed water are used daily in Florida. Florida is a national leader in using reclaimed water, and in 2006 Florida’s reuse program received the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Water Efficiency Leader Award. Using reclaimed water in Florida meets a state objective for conserving freshwater supplies, and preserves the water quality of rivers, streams, lakes, and aquifers. This publication discusses the benefits of using reclaimed water to irrigate the landscape and explains how using reclaimed water helps to protect the environment. This 4-page fact sheet was written by George Hochmuth, Laurie Trenholm, Don Rainey, Esen Momol, Claire Lewis, and Brian Niemann, and published by the UF Department of Soil and Water Science, November 2013.

Managing Landscape Irrigation to Avoid Soil and Nutrient Losses

Figure 1. Plants have different root zones. Knowing the plant’s root zone can help you determine how long to operate the irrigation system to avoid excessive irrigation.Proper irrigation management is critical to conserve and protect water resources and to properly manage nutrients in the home landscape. How lawns and landscapes are irrigated directly impacts the natural environment, so landscape maintenance professionals and homeowners must adopt environmentally-friendly approaches to irrigation management. After selecting the right plant for the right place, water is the next critical factor to establish and maintain a healthy lawn and landscape. Fertilization is another important component of lawn and landscape maintenance, and irrigation must be applied correctly, especially following fertilization, to minimize potential nutrient losses. This publication supplements other UF/IFAS Extension publications that also include information on the role of soil and the root zone in irrigation management. This publication is designed to help UF/IFAS Extension county agents prepare materials to directly address nutrient losses from lawns and landscapes caused by inadequate irrigation management practices.This 6-page fact sheet was written by George Hochmuth, Laurie Trenholm, Don Rainey, Esen Momol, Claire Lewis, and Brian Niemann, and published by the UF Department of Soil and Water Science, October 2013.