The Nine Principles

  1. Right plant, right place
    Your plants' performance depends greatly on the type of plants you choose and where you plant them.

    Choose plants that require minimal irrigation, fertilization, or pest control once they're established and are suited to your property. Consider the amount of sun your property receives when choosing plants.
    If you have any wet or dry spots, group plants according to their irrigation needs. Additionally, you should always consider how large plants will grow before purchasing and planting them.

    You can create a beautiful landscape that conserves water and protects natural resources by choosing the right plant for the right place.
  2. Water Efficiently
    Water is required for plants to survive, and sometimes even the right plants need supplemental watering.

    There is more to overwatering than just depleting the water supply. Additionally, it causes plants to be more susceptible to pests and adds to stormwater runoff, which pollutes our water.

    Irrigate when it's necessary, not when the calendar tells you to. You can tell if your plants need water by looking at their leaves. Do not water your lawn unless at least half of it shows signs of wilting. Use micro-irrigation systems for landscape beds to ensure only the water is applied where it is needed. If you have an irrigation system, ensure it's working correctly and not watering paved areas.

    You can reduce maintenance, water bills, and insect problems by choosing drought-tolerant plants and watering them appropriately.
  3. Fertilize Appropriately
    A plant's growth depends on nutrients, which are obtained from soil. However, we sometimes use organic or synthetic fertilizers to help plants grow.

    Do your research before applying fertilizer because different nutrients promote growth differently. As a result, you will apply the right type of nutrients at the right time.

    Proper fertilizer application benefits plants as well. It is possible to over fertilize a crop, thereby causing pest problems, excessive growth, and polluting groundwater and waterways.

    It is always a good idea to keep fertilizers off hard surfaces, never fertilize near any water body, and never fertilize before heavy rains. Most importantly, before you apply fertilizer, make sure to read and follow all label instructions.
  4. Mulch
    Mulch is an attractive way to hep control weeds, retain soil moisture, and moderate soil temperatures. It gives your landscape a neat and uniform appearance. Organic mulches can also help improve soil as they decompose.

    Mulch can be made from many different materials. Consider mulch made of melaleuca, eucalyptus, or pine straw or bark for an environmentally friendly option. It is best to avoid using cypress mulch, which is often harvested from delicate wetlands. You can create self-mulching areas by letting fallen leaves stay under your trees.
  5. Attract Wildlife
    Floridians are lucky to have a wide variety of wildlife, but natural habitat areas are dwindling. Homeowners can help by creating a welcoming environment for our wild friends.

    In order for wildlife to survive, they need food, water, cover, and space. Plant trees and plants that produce fruit and seeds in your landscape. Plant foliage and flowers to attract butterflies, birds, and bees. For animals and insects, native plants can be a good source of food.

    Consider adding a small pond or birdbath to your landscape if you do not have a natural water source. Find out what kinds of birds nest in your area and build or purchase a home for them.
  6. Manage Yard Pests Responsibly
    It is not always necessary to use pesticides as people believe. Healthy plants can often tolerate pest attacks, and beneficial insects, birds, and other natural controls can help suppress insect pests.

    Use healthy, pest-resistant plants in the right places in your landscape to minimize problems. Detect pest problems early by scouting your landscape frequently. You can remove infected areas of the plant by hand by picking off the insects.

    If you must use a pesticide, use insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, or other products with low toxicity. Don't forget to only treat affected plants and to follow all instructions on the label.

    You can reduce your environmental impact by managing yard pests responsibly.
  7. Recycle Yard Waste
    Yard waste left over from mowing, pruning, raking, and other yard work can be recycled easily. It also helps return valuable nutrients to the soil.

    You can start by leaving your grass clippings on the lawn when you mow. Never dump grass clippings or other yard waste into storm drains or waterways (it's illegal and it pollutes our environment).

    Raked leaves and pine needles can be used as mulch in beds or made into a soil amendment by adding them to a compost pile. To recycle nutrients from trees and shrubs, toss small cuttings behind other plants.

    It is common for many communities to provide free yard waste pick-up, and the waste is often recycled into mulch or compost that can be made available to homeowners for free or at a very low cost.
  8. Reduce Stormwater Runoff
    By using porous materials like mulch and pavers for sidewalks and driveways, you can reduce the amount of rainfall that leaves your landscape.

    In addition to capturing rainwater, turf grasses and ground covers can also filter pollutants and reduce erosion. Utilize rain barrels and cisterns, direct downspouts into landscape beds, and plant rain gardens to keep water on site.
  9. Protect the Waterfront
    Florida is filled with lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. There are a number of homeowners who own property by water, and who enjoy the beautiful scenery and fun water-based activities. It is extremely important to take special care with waterfront property because everything you put in your landscape can wash into the water.

    Water bodies can be protected from runoff of nutrients and pesticides by creating a "maintenance-free zone" between the lawn and the water body. In this area, which should be at least ten feet wide, do not mow, fertilize, or use pesticides.

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