Imagine having a lush, vibrant, inviting yard… but without having to water or mow it so much.
Sounds nice, right?
It’s also totally achievable with something called Florida-Friendly landscaping.
Florida-Friendly landscaping is a program that harnesses low-maintenance plants to cut down on water usage. The result is a beautiful yard that doesn’t need constant irrigation.
And right now, Alachua County residents can get in on the program for half the cost.
Alachua County has started a program called Turf SWAP to help pay for this type of landscaping on local properties. They’ll chip in 50 percent of the cost up to $2,000 for swapping out irrigated turf with Florida-Friendly landscaping.
Turf SWAP makes sustainable landscaping more accessible to local residents, while also helping to conserve water for our local ecosystem.
…But what exactly is involved with Florida-Friendly landscaping? How can someone go about making their yard Florida-Friendly?
For pointers, we reached out to our friends at SkyFrog Landscape.
SkyFrog Landscape is an accredited Turf SWAP vendor helping clients take advantage of this awesome deal. Landscape designer Tammi Wait sat down with us to discuss the basics.
Guest Expert Tammi Wait of SkyFrog Landscape on Florida-Friendly Landscaping
So what exactly does Florida-Friendly landscaping entail?
The basic idea is to use low-maintenance plants and green landscaping techniques that allow you to conserve resources. There’s a term we use: “right plant, right place.” The idea is to put plants in the environment that will allow them to thrive, so they’ll grow well with little help from the homeowner.
Another big component is macro- versus micro-irrigation.
Macro-irrigation refers to above-ground spray sprinklers—the kind you need for a big grass lawn. Micro-irrigation systems send water right to the root ball of the plant, so that far less water is used.
Florida-Friendly landscaping generally involves putting a bigger focus on plant beds, mulching, and “hardscaping” such as stone paths, so there’s less of a need for macro-irrigation.
What are the benefits of Florida-Friendly landscaping?
The most obvious benefit is you’ll significantly cut your water bill.
Macro-irrigation systems pump out gallons of water per minute, whereas micro-irrigation systems are much more efficient. So you’ll definitely notice it when you’re paying the bills.
There are also benefits to prioritizing plant beds. First of all, your yard becomes diverse, lush and totally unique. Many people also appreciate that there’s less maintenance involved with plant beds—they don’t need to be mowed every week.
Like I said, Florida-Friendly plants will do well as long as they’re planted in the appropriate spot—unlike turfgrass, which can get many pests such as chinch bugs and sod webworms. These pests can completely destroy a lawn if left untreated.
What role does a Florida-Friendly landscape designer play?
A big part is having the knowledge for the “right plant, right place” method. We know what plants qualify as Florida-Friendly and how to plant them so they’ll thrive.
We’ll also make recommendations as far as hardscaping with stone or patios—there are a lot of options out there that many people aren’t aware of.
Then of course there’s the design—we work with the client to create a personalized space that is functional, sustainable and beautiful all at once.
What would you say to someone who’s considering participating in Turf SWAP?
If you’re eligible, it can be a great option to enjoy the benefits of Florida-Friendly landscaping. SkyFrog is happy to visit for a personalized chat and help someone visualize how this type of landscaping might work on their yard.
Contact SkyFrog Landscape online or at (352) 519-3999.