For 30 years, Florida’s premier landscaping program has helped improve the environment and keep yards beautiful. The nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ provide landscaping recommendations that use less water, attract wildlife and reduce pollution to Florida waterways.
“FFL is a holistic way of looking at the landscape,” said Tom Wichman, FFL program assistant director. “It’s based on nine science-based core principles developed 30 years ago that look at the entirety of the landscape. From how it’s designed to how it’s managed, it encompasses everything.”
With support from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 93 UF/IFAS Extension agents in 67 counties deliver FFL education.
“Protecting Florida’s water resources is critical to our economy, environment and way of life,” said Adam Blalock, DEP Deputy Secretary of Ecosystem Restoration. “Implementing Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices is one way that everyone can help protect Florida’s waterways. The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program provides best practices, training and resources for residents, businesses and local governments.”
In 2022, the FFL program saved more than an estimated 340 million gallons of water, and 105,000 people participated in FFL-related water conservation programs. When it comes to nutrient pollution in our waterways, the program was estimated to have saved 119,564 pounds of nitrogen from entering Florida waterways in 2021.
The program is a success in part due to the efforts of the UF/IFAS Extension agents that provide research-based information to their communities.
“The passion and skill of agents across the state is what has allowed this program to prosper and continue to grow,” said Wichman. “Their commitment and the partnership with FDEP is what has allowed this program to thrive.”
One of the program’s greatest claims to fame is the recent television show featuring FFL principles, “Flip My Florida Yard.” Each episode documents a yard makeover for a Florida family. In 8 hours, their landscape is turned into a Florida-Friendly oasis. Now in its third season, the show continues to grow in popularity and raise awareness of the FFL principles.
The show, free online resources and local Extension expertise are available to help people integrate Florida-Friendly principles into their yards, but FFL continues to find ways to make sure resources and tips to get started are accessible for all.
“Transforming your landscape can be daunting at first if you don’t know where to start,” Wichman said. “Most people in Florida are coming from somewhere else. The climate in Florida is so different than anywhere else in the country and they need Florida-specific information. We have experts to help get you started.”
New for 2023, residents can take the FFL pledge and make a concerted effort to implement at least one or more behaviors to make your yard more Florida-Friendly.
“We all play a part in protecting Florida’s environment and it is easy to get started,” said Wichman. “There are a multitude of options to help your landscape take on a wide range of personalities. It does not have to have a set look. Almost any landscape can be FFL as long as you’re using the right plants, following the nine principles and managing it correctly.”