Personalizing Your Florida-Friendly Landscape
Florida-Friendly landscapes are all based on the same Nine Principles. But Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ encourages individual expression of beauty. As long as you apply the principles described in the FYN Handbook (PDF), your landscape can be Florida-Friendly and as individual as you want.
How Do I Personalize My Florida-Friendly Landscape?
Just as your home is unique, your garden and landscape can be as well. When planning your Florida-Friendly Landscape, consider the following tools to set your yard apart:
Every garden has a form. Form refers to the shape of a garden's spaces and design elements. They can be geometric, such as square, circular, or angular; or naturalistic, using organic forms. A landscape with a square theme will often have square or rectangular patios, walkways, and turf areas. In naturalistic landscapes, the designer uses less structured, more irregular forms and elements.
Styles are identified by a combination of forms, plants, materials, and ornaments. These can be cultural, as in a Japanese garden; historic, as with an English manor; regional, based on the climate and visual characteristics of the garden's location in the United States; or designed with the local ecosystem in mind.
Landscape types are based on specific functions: water harvesting, energy efficiency, safety (such as fire-wise design), or "Florida-Friendliness." Florida-Friendly landscapes tend toward a regional style and naturalistic form, in that they look more natural to Florida's environment. But they also have a specific function: to help conserve and protect Florida's water resources and keep Florida's environment healthy. Natural waterways and plants that thrive in Florida's soils and climates may compose parts of Florida-Friendly landscapes.
What if I Live in a Planned Community?
Unfortunately, many developments' codes, covenants, and ordinances discourage the innovation and expression of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles. In some communities, homeowners are limited to a narrow selection of landscape designs. The most typical is the Planned Unit Development, often called the PUD style. This usually features a wide swath of turf, impervious driveways and patios, a few shrubs or trees planted close to the house walls, and minimal mulch. Very little water is conserved in such landscapes, pesticides and fertilizers may be used inappropriately, and wildlife is not attracted.
Floridians who want to enjoy the natural wonders of this state shouldn't be forced to leave their own backyards to do so. If you live in a community with CCRs that restrict the implementation of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles, encourage your neighbors and homeowners association to adopt Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ methods. Describe the water, time, and cost savings of applying the Nine Principles to existing landscaped areas. You might also mention that some developers are now using Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles in their communities' initial designs.
Making Your Garden Your Own
When you design a Florida-Friendly landscape, think of how you can make it entirely unique. Consider the shape of spaces and objects in your garden. See if you prefer a certain cultural or historic style. Look at the natural environment and learn about the ecosystems surrounding your yard.
Keep the Nine Principles in mind and strive for something that fits your needs and taste while benefiting Florida's environment. You'll be sure to come up with something beautiful, cost-efficient, and easy to maintain that still reflects your personal style!