Is it just me or does everyone else see themselves as a Master Gardner when they are walking through the Garden Center at Lowe’s? I see a rainbow of beautiful annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and groundcover and I immediately picture myself planting them in my yard and being the envy of the whole neighborhood with my botanical prowess. The reality is, I buy too much, get it home and watch it slowly and painfully die. Yes, regretfully, I have a brown thumb.
Lucky for me, the University of Florida IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) has created a Florida Friendly Landscaping publication called The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook. (Download here: https://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/materials/FYN_Handbook_2015_web.pdf ). I would highly recommend this Handbook to any who likes to tinker in their yard – especially if they have moved here from another state or from another hardiness zone. The Handbook is arranged according to the nine Florida Friendly principles and provides homeowners with invaluable information for just about anything having to do with your yard. Having trouble with pests? There’s a section on that. Want to make sure you have proper irrigation coverage? Read all about it in the Handbook. I just can’t stress enough how valuable you will find the Handbook. Here is a list of the nine Florida Friendly principles:
1. Right Plant, Right Place. Using plants suited to your particular landscape conditions helps them thrive with little or no irrigation and few or no fertilizers or pesticides.
2. Water Efficiently. Overwatering your lawn can weaken your plants and make them more prone to disease and pests. By ensuring your irrigation system is operating as efficiently as possible, you reduce your water consumption and your lawn maintenance needs.
3. Fertilize Appropriately. All plants need nutrients. However, learn how to properly select fertilizer and how to appropriately apply it to your yard. Also, don’t forget Brevard County has a fertilizer ban starting June 1st and lasting until September 30th. If you apply fertilizer, make sure you know the rules. If you use a contractor, make sure they are in compliance with the local fertilizer laws. You can download the full ordinance here: https://www.cvcaviera.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Brevard-Fertilizer-Ordinance.pdf
4. Mulch. Using mulch in your yard will help keep moisture in the soil, help control weeds and reduce stormwater runoff.
5. Attract Wildlife. A Florida Friendly landscape will provide water, food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other creatures.
6. Manage Yard Pests Responsibly. We all have a part to play in protecting the environment and how we handle pests is a big part of that. Learn how to create an effective defense against pests while minimizing your impact on the environment.
7. Recycle. Recycling and reusing yard waste will save money and enrich your soil.
8. Reduce Stormwater Runoff. In Brevard County, no one should be unaware of the fact that stormwater runoff is considered the largest contributor to degraded water quality in Florida. We also know that is it the primary reason the Indian River Lagoon is in the shape that it is in today and the news this week has not been good as we are starting to see fish kills again. And, while Viera’s stormwater is conveyed to the St. John’s River, not the Lagoon, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to protect the River. EVERYONE should be aware of this principle and engaging in best management practices in order to protect our waterways and replenish Florida’s aquifers.
9. Protect the Waterfront. What you do in your yard has far-reaching consequences and will, eventually, impact a body of water somewhere. Many homes in Viera are adjacent to a stormwater pond or a wetland. Make sure you understand how your actions and maintenance practices affect our waterways.
There you have it. These nine principles are fairly simple and we can all do a little something to change our bad maintenance habits. A little change here and a little change there can have a huge cumulative effect. You don’t have to be an environmentalist to do the right thing.
So, until next time, please remember … “Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.” (Anonymous).
Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.