Living in Florida, we are all blessed with rich, natural surroundings. In order to protect and preserve our Florida environment, there are “best practices” that all of us can employ in our daily lives when we consider our homes, our lawns, our plant/tree selections, our irrigation practices and the chemicals we put on our yards.
Living with Alligators
Alligators are fundamental part of Florida’s wildlife and they could potentially live in every water body that we have in Viera. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each and every homeowner to be aware of the laws and guidance provided by wildlife officals that govern our interaction with these fascinating creatures. Alligators were the very first Floridians and deserve our respect and consideration. Download the complete Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission alligator brochure here. You can also learn more by visiting FWC’s alligator webpage here. The following is a summary of the best practices of living with alligators:
- Never feed alligators!! It is dangerous and illegal. Also, alligators will learn to associate food with people and they will overcome their natural fear of humans.
- Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Avoid swimming or standing close to the shore of a lake during this time.
- Dogs and cats are similar in size to their natural prey. Do not allow pets to swim or play in our ponds.
- Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harrassing or possessing alligators.
- If you encounter an alligator that poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. Please be aware that alligators reported to the hotline are killed, not relocated.
Florida Friendly Landscaping
Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) is the use of low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices. The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook, together with the Home Landscape Recognition Checklist are great tools for learning about the 9 principles of FFL and the best practices we can employ to create the most environmentally friendly and attractive lawns but also minimize the impact we have on the natural environment. The 9 principles are:
- Right Plant, Right Place: Use plants suited to your specific landscape conditions.
- Water Efficiently: Reduce water bills, pest problems and maintenance needs.
- Fertilize Appropriately: Prevent pollution and maximize plant health.
- Mulch: Keep moisture in the soil, help control weeds and reduce stormwater runoff.
- Attract Wildlife: Bring your yard to life by providing water, food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other creatures.
- Manage Yard Pests Responsibly: Create an effective defense against pests while minimizing your impact on the environment.
- Recycle: Re-use your yard waste to save money and enrich your soil.
- Reduce Stormwater Runoff: Filter rain through your landscape to protect waterways and replenish the aquifer.
- Protect the Waterfront: Help preserve Florida’s waterways, plants and wildlife.
Please visit the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods webpage for all the information you need on FFL including a FFL database of plants for your landscape.
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) is one of five water management districts throughout Florida. SJRWMD is responsible for managing groundwater and surface water resources within its jurisdictional boundaries. As such, they are responsible for imposing water restrictions throughout our area and approve, through permitting, all ground and surface water withdrawals and usage. SJRWMD also provides the necessary resources for Florida’s residents to learn about water conservation and the best practices used to protect one of our most precious resources – our water. Please visit SJRWMD’s Waterwise webpage for more information.
“Green” Building Practices
There are many national standards for energy conservation in the building industry – for both residential and commercial construction. Some of these standards include Florida Power & Light Company’s Residential New Construction BuildSmart Program, the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) program, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes (GBIGG) program, and the U.S. DOE/EPA Energy Star (“Energy Star”) program. Each of these programs and initiatives work to educate, inform and encourage energy conservation. When building a home or business in Viera, consider the options available to you in order to construct a more environmentally friendly and energy conscious building.
Florida Water Star Certification Program
Florida Water Star is a water conservation certification program for new and existing homes and commercial developments. Standards and guidelines for water efficiency are included for indoor fixtures and appliances, landscape design and irrigation systems. If you are interested in becoming certified or just want to learn about applying the certification principles in your home, please visit the Florida Water Star website for more information.
Fertilizer and Pesticides
In addition to reading about “best management practices” for pesticides and fertilizers in the Florida Friendly Landscaping resources listed above, there is also a Brevard County Ordinance regulating the application of fertilizers that must be adhered to throughout all of Brevard County. The Brevard County Fertilizer was adopted and went into effect in 2014. Brevard County, along with many other counties and municipalities across the state, adopted the Ordinance in order to reduce the amount of nutrients in stormwater runoff that eventually makes its way to our water bodies. In addition to other fertilizer related conditions, no fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus can be applied to turf or landscape during the period of June 1 through September 30. As responsible homeowners, make sure your landscaping/fertilizing contractor(s) are familiar with and in compliance with the Brevard County Ordinance. Download the full ordinance here.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a strategy recommended by scientists and environmentalists that helps gardeners manage pests with as few chemicals as possible. When pests appear in your garden or landscaping, don’t automatically assume the worst as there are beneficial insects that actually help control pests. To prevent disease and pest outbreaks, be sure to select pest resistent plants. When problems do arise, first try to remove the affected leaves or plant parts and pick the pests off by hand. With automatic chemical treatment, you sometimes kill the good with the bad. If treatment is necessary, spot treat only rather than blanket application spraying and use selective rather than broad-spectrum insecticides. Always follow the label instructions carefully.
Preferred Plant Materials
In addition to the websites and databases listed above for information regarding acceptable FFL landscaping plants, there is a list of non-approved/prohibited plants that cannot be used in any Viera landscape plan. See table below for Viera’s prohibited plant list.
|Common Name||Botanical Name||Comments|
|Arbor Vitae||Thuja orientalis||Invasive, aggressive, dense closed canopy|
|Australian Pine||Casuarine Spp.||Invasive, aggressive, densely rooted|
|Bamboo||Bambusa Spp.||Invasive, spreads quickly by underground rhizomes|
|Brazilian Pepper||Schinujs Spp.||Invasive, aggressive, dense closed canopy|
|Jacaranda||Jacaranda mimosifolia||Invasive, aggressive, dense closed canopy|
|Carrotwood||Cupaniopsis anacardioides||Invasive, crowds out other plants for light and nutrients|
|Chinaberry||Melia azedarach||Invasive, root-suckering, poisonous fruit|
|Chinese Elm||Ulmus parvifolia||Invasive, large-diameter roots grow great distances from trunk|
|Downy Rose Myrtle||Rhodomyrtus tomentosa||Invasive, dense thickets, aggressive growth|
|Ear Tree||Enterolobium cyclocarpum||Massive size up to 100’ tall with 70 spread, messy fruit|
|English Ivy||Hedera helix||Invasive, growth can weaken trees, can damage structures|
|Eucalyptus Species||Eucalyptus species||Weedy invasive|
|Ficus Fig||Ficus benjamina||Massive size, roots invade other plants|
|French Mulberry||Morus alba||Invasive, aggressive, densely rooted|
|Cat Claw Mimosa||Mimosa pigra||Weedy invasive aquatic plant|
|Nandina||Nandina domestica||Invasive, spreads via suckers and rhizomes|
|Peltophorum||Peltophorum plerocarpum||Invasive, growth can weaken trees, can damage structures grows very tall|
|Punk Trees||Melaleuca quinquenervia||Invasive, forms dense stands, crowding out all other plants|
|Sunshine Mimosa||Mimosa strigillosa||Invasive groundcover|
|Sycamore||Plantus occidentalis||Exfoliating bark, flakes off in great irregular masses, leaving the surface mottled, & greenish-white, gray & brown|
|White Mulberry||Morus alba||Invasive and transmits harmful root disease|