Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Five homeowners win Florida Friendly landscaping award

Ever wonder if your lawn and garden is the best? Maybe not from a “magazine spread” perspective, but from the viewpoint of best practices gardening? The Florida Friendly Landscaping program was developed to help homeowners beautify and protect our wonderful state of Florida by guiding us in making good choices in our yards. A small team of enthusiastic Master Gardeners can visit your home and talk to you about landscape conservation and ecology and suggest improvements.

2014 was a banner year with five Leon County residences recognized for Florida Friendly Landscaping. Gold Awards were given to Robin and Russ Frydenborg and Robert and Debora Swoboda. Silver Awards went to Mike Fagan, Jim and Sandy Defoe, and Sandy Layne and Bob Graves.

Through Leon County’s Extension Office, Master Gardener volunteers surveyed each of these properties looking at nine basic landscaping principles. We use research based criteria that addresses water conservation as well as protection of water quality and other natural resources.

By keeping the entire tract natural, the Frydenborg lot is considered an educational model for a woodland look. The Swoboda property is particularly pleasing to the eye, incorporating a healthy approach to landscaping using education first, then planning and planting the yard.

Recognition of superior landscaping practices by homeowners centers on three concepts — required best practices, aesthetics and nine principles of good gardening. All of these homeowners identified commonly found exotic invasive plants and removed them when found. (Local yards often contain Chinese tallow tree, kudzu, air potato, Japanese climbing fern, bush morning glory and/or cogon grass.) They avoided use of “weed and feed” products and overuse of pesticides and herbicides. Also, each of these award winning yards was found to contain a number of unique plant species.

Aesthetics in these gardens reflect active management of the landscape including appropriate pruning, defined beds, appropriate handling of debris and fitting into the local community.

Embracing the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping, these properties model Right Plant, Right Place. Selecting plants that thrive in our area without extensive use of chemicals or water has significant pay-off, environmentally. These homeowners recognize the importance of a pH soil test as well as placement of plants and turf for function and to prevent erosion. Use of water, fertilizers, mulch, attracting wildlife, managing yard pests, recycling, reducing storm water runoff and protecting the waterfront are the other eight landscape practices followed by these homeowners.

Any homeowner may request a Florida Yards and Neighborhoods survey through the Leon County Extension Office — by phone, email or in person. Many requests are made during the office’s Open House events. A team of up to three Master Gardeners is assigned; an actual survey may take up to two hours. In follow-up, a written report is given to the homeowner detailing the team’s findings. Arranging a team visit may take a few weeks, depending on weather and the availability of experienced Yard Advisors.

Do you think your yard is Florida-Friendly? Want to make it better? Ask us to help.

Linda Knopf is a Master Gardener at the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Leon County and the Chair of the Florida Yards Neighborhoods Program. For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A-Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov.

Article source: http://www.tallahassee.com/story/life/home-garden/2015/03/19/five-homeowners-win-florida-friendly-landscaping-award/25053803/