In a Florida friendly yard, it is important to use fertilizers judiciously and appropriately, remembering that different types of plants benefit from different kinds of fertilizers. Composted organic material is the most natural way to go, but packaged fertilizers, if used properly, can work efficiently without harming the environment.
Lawns: A healthy lawn has a thick root system with strong shoots that can filter out contaminants that would otherwise end up in storm water runoff. Over-fertilization results in the product filtering through weakened root systems into the aquifers or being washed off by the rain, ending up in waterways.
Slow-release: Buy slow-release fertilizers containing nitrogen that is released gradually over a period of time. Nitrogen promotes steady, not rapid, shoot growth which results in less mowing requirements.
Check numbers: If purchasing packaged fertilizer, look at the numbers on the back of the bag, which will look like this: 15-0-15 or 16-2-8. The first number is the percentage of nitrogen in the bag; the second, the phosphorous and the third is the potassium. Nitrogen and phosphorous are the ingredients which cause water pollution problems, so buy products with the lowest percentages of those ingredients.
Assess: Appropriate fertilization of your lawn can be determined by establishing the annual fertility needs of the grass species; by measuring the square footage of your lawn area, and by determining the amount of slow-release nitrogen that is in your fertilizer.
Compost: One of the best ways to improve the nutrient value of your soil is by applying compost. Simply designating a corner of the yard to pile up leaves and other yard refuse, then allowing it to decompose naturally, can create compost. A compost bin (available at most gardening stores), will enable you to collect vegetable and fruit peels, coffee grounds and egg shells, which you layer with leaves and soil, then allow to decompose.
For more information on appropriate fertilization there is a very helpful guide that can be downloaded at: www.floridayards.org/landscape/FYN-Handbook.pdf
Right Plant, Right Place
Important to the success of a Florida-friendly yard is planting the right plant, in the right place. For example, group plants that require more sunlight together.
Planting Florida-friendly plants helps to conserving precious water resources. There are some other innovative ways in which we can help to conserve and reuse the water that falls in our yard!
Pollution from fertilizers and pesticides in storm water run off from yards, contributes to excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphates in our waterways, often resulting in harmful algal blooms.
Mulch is natural organic material that is laid down in your yard to help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing. It’s decomposition helps to greatly enrich topsoil.
Many of Florida’s birds and butterflies are intricately connected to the native flora. Including Florida native plants in your yard will most definitely attract them to come and visit!
Managing Pesticides Responsibly
While there are some plants that are difficult to manage without pesticides and herbicides, most Florida native plants do not need applications of either.
Much of what is in our yard can be recycled and put to good use! Here is an innovative way in which to use up branches from a nuisance exotic tree.
Storm Water Runoff
Tropical summer rains produce torrents of water that flow through urban neighborhoods absorbing chemicals from yards and driveways along the way. This toxic runoff pollutes all waterways, and needs to be reduced.
Protect the Waterfront
Many homes in Florida are situated on a lake, canal, wetland or the ocean. Certain kinds of vegetation can help to minimize the effects of storm water runoff while providing important habitat for birds and small aquatic animals.
Benefits of a Florida-friendly Yard
There are numerous benefits to planting Florida-friendly plants in your yard, from saving money to minimizing the amount of time spent on maintenance; not to mention the beauty of the birds and butterflies that come to visit!