MOORE HAVEN – Glades County Commissioners learned about Florida Friendly landscaping at their Aug. 8 meeting.
Extension Agent David Austin made a presentation about the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Florida Yards and Neighborhood Program.
Austin is the Highlands County Residential Horticulture Agent. Florida friendly landscaping is a way for residents to control stormwater runoff, he explained. “Stormwater runoff is the number one source of pollution in our waters right now,” he explained. “The two largest culprits are nitrogen and phosphorus. Those are fertilizers. If you have a fertilizer bag, those are the first two numbers on the bag.”
He said anyone who uses fertilizers is responsible for a certain amount of those nutrients getting into the water. Farmers and anyone paid to fertilize a lawn must follow best management practices (BMPs). Law services that are doing fertilizing are supposed to be certified and licensed in the State of Florida, he continued.
“For homeowners, the first thing is right plant, right place,” he said. “If they are growing in the wrong place, they aren’t going to be healthy.”
Watering efficiently is also important, he continued. If the sprinkler is watering the road, that is wasting water. “Sometimes you don’t need to water at all.”
In 1991, Florida Legislature passed a law that you must have a water sensing device on your automatic watering device, he explained. If it rains, that sensor should shut the sprinkler off. “Now they make soil sensors that are a lot more accurate,” he said. “These require smart timers that require upgrades to your irrigation system.”
Fertilizing appropriately is also important, he said. “Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two biggest problems we have in the water.”
Mulching helps keep the yard healthy, he said. Mulch helps hold water and as breaks down and helps the plant grow better.
Mulching grass back into the lawn adds nutrients back into the yards. Austin said this can reduce the amount of fertilizer you need to add.
“When you have water running off your roof, you should try to keep it on your lawn,” he said. “It’s not good to have it go to a ditch and into a canal to Lake Okeechobee.
“A lot of the problems with Lake Okeechobee is from stormwater runoff,” he said.
Another tip: Don’t fertilizer or use pesticides within 10 feet of the waterfront. He said they discourage using chemical pesticides and encourage the use of natural pesticides.
2022 was a busy year for the Glades County, with the expenditure of the pandemic funds as well as changes in the county’s leases, according to the budget report shared by Clifton Larson Allen.
The commission accepted and approved the budget audit report, which will be available online on the county’s website (myglades.com) the Florida Auditor’s website (Floridaauditor.gov) and in the county office for public viewing.