by William B. Campbell, III, VP of Sales and Marketing, Campbell Property Management

Florida-Friendly LandscapingFloridians alone use approximately 6.5 billion gallons of freshwater each and everyday. With water rates increasing significantly over the past few years, these cost increases do not shift over to improved water quality. The average Floridian pays roughly $60 per month for water services – almost half as much as residents in cities like Chicago and Houston pay. In Condos and HOAs, these costs can add up to over hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Why do we Floridians pay this much money per month towards water services when it rains almost everyday? Water not only evaporates, but it also isn’t stored properly due to lack of space. Condos and HOAs can avoid paying these costly bills by implementing strategies to regulate and conserve their water costs by following these 9 Florida-Friendly landscaping principles:

1. Right Plant; Right Place – Placing plants that are native to your area will sooner or later require little to no maintenance. Plants that match the soil, light, and climatic conditions will establish themselves on their own, saving you time and money.
2. Fertilize Accordingly – Use fertilizers with slow-release nitrogen and very small amounts of phosphorous. Never fertilize within 10 feet of any body of water, and don’t fertilize before a heavy rain to avoid pollution. Excess fertilizer will pollute nearby bodies of water, and will therefore pollute the water that your home or condo uses.
3. Befriend Local Wildlife – Providing water, shelter and food to animals such as birds and butterflies will only make your landscaping more attractive. Plants with fruit, seeds, or flowers can be eaten by animals and help them survive in heavily urbanized areas.
4. Water Regularly – Planting the right plants in the right place will help conserve water significantly. Zoning your irrigation system and planting foliage with similar needs will allow for less run off and also save you money.
5. Mighty Mulch – Mulch is your friend. It helps retain soil moisture, inhibits weed growth and even protects surrounding plants. It also gives your landscape a neat, clean look. Use sustainably harvested mulch like eucalyptus or pine straw, and avoid using cypress mulch as its origins are difficult to regulate.
6. Protect Your Lakeshores – What you do inside and outside your home can significantly affect your local lakeshores. Always designate a “maintenance-free zone” that is at least 10 feet away from any lakeshores. Do not pollute water by dumping wastes or chemicals into them to avoid shoreline erosion.
7. Reuse Your Yard Waste – Pruning, mowing and raking are just a few maintenance techniques that result in leftover yard waste. These wastes can be recycled to save money by composting, or combing environmentally friendly materials (grass clippings, weeds, tea bags, etc.) with one another. Adding these nutrient-rich wastes to your yard will help plants retain more water and increase their fertility.
8. Reduce Runoff – Almost all of the bodies of water in Florida are susceptible to pollution from run-off. Pesticides and other chemicals can enter these bodies of water and decrease our water quality significantly. If possible, use permeably materials such as brick, gravel or crushed shell on walkways and driveways to allow for water to soak into the ground.
9. Manage Pests – To avoid spreading diseases and insect outbreaks, use pest-resistant plants in your landscaping. Placing them in suitable locations will aid in the prevention of major environmental and health issues caused by pests. Also use appropriate amounts of fertilizer and water in your landscaping. Using IPM, or Integrated Pest Management will help you create and sustain a cost-efficient and low-maintenance landscape in no time.

To view the full list of Florida-Friendly yard practices, click here. What are some practices your community uses to help regulate and conserve water costs? We want to know in the comment section below.

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