Gardening Tips: Florida Friendly Landscaping

In the Sunshine State, where vibrant ecosystems thrive, a movement is underway, one that celebrates the fusion of aesthetics, environmental consciousness, and community spirit.
Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM transcends mere curb appeal; it’s a commitment to nurturing our natural heritage. In this article, we delve into two compelling trends that exemplify this ethos: the Homegrown National Park Movement and the Natural, Environmentally Friendly Native Landscaping at Sunbridge Community.
Let’s explore how these trends are reshaping our green spaces and fostering a harmonious coexistence between ourselves and nature. As the weather turns cooler, it’s a good time to catch up on your reading, too.
As a reminder, Florida-friendly Landscaping TM harmonizes aesthetics with environmental stewardship. Florida-friendly Landscaping TM offers a host of advantages:

  1. Water Conservation: By choosing native plants adapted to Florida’s climate, you reduce water usage significantly.
  2. Wildlife Habitat: Native species attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, fostering biodiversity.
  3. Reduced Maintenance: Drought-tolerant plants require less care and pruning.
  4. Improved Soil Health: Native plants enhance soil structure and nutrient cycling.
  5. Stormwater Management: Features like rain gardens filter runoff, protecting water quality.
    Homegrown National Park Movement: Inspired by the idea of creating mini ecosystems in our own backyards, the homegrown national park movement encourages homeowners to cultivate native plants that attract local wildlife.
    This is a new approach to environmental conservation that starts where we live and work. It is based on the idea that we can create natural habitats of biological corridors between parks and preserves, and private and public landscapes, by planting native plants and removing invasive species. This way, we can support the biodiversity and health of native insects, animals, and plants, as well as sequester carbon, manage water, and beautify our surroundings.
    The movement was inspired by the work of Doug Tallamy, an entomologist, ecologist, and conservationist who is a professor at the University of Delaware. He has written several books and papers on the importance of native plants for sustaining wildlife in our gardens. He has also conducted research on the impact of alien plants on native ecosystems and the connections between plants and insects and how those relations are important to birds. He has called for smaller lawns and more native plantings in our landscapes. He has also coined the term “Homegrown National Park” to describe his vision of a grassroots conservation effort that can cover half of the U.S. land area with native vegetation.
    To join the homegrown national park movement, you can start by planting native plants in your yard or garden, or even in a container or a window box. You can find native plants that are suitable for your region and soil conditions by using online resources or visiting local nurseries.
    You can also remove invasive plants that compete with or harm native species. You can also reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides that can harm beneficial insects and animals. You can also provide water sources, nesting sites, and shelter for wildlife in your yard.
    To list your yard as part of the homegrown national park, you can visit the website Homegrown National Park and click on “Get on the Map.” You will be asked to enter your address, the size of your yard, the percentage of native plants in your yard, and some optional information such as photos, plant lists, or stories. You will then see your yard marked on a map along with other participants in your area. You can also explore the map to see other yards and gardens that are part of the movement. You can also share your yard on social media using the hashtag #HomegrownNationalPark.
    By selecting native species, you can create a vibrant habitat for birds, butterflies, and other creatures. In summary, try some simple ideas first:
  • Consider planting milkweed to support monarch butterflies or native grasses to provide shelter for small animals.
  • Create a butterfly garden in the spring to attract butterflies, birds, and bees.
  • Encourage the presence of wildlife in your garden, such as turtles and birds, by supplying water in birdbaths and bird seed for food. These efforts contribute to the conservation of Florida’s unique biodiversity.
    See part two of this article in next month’s issue.