Does your yard measure up?

Florida Yards and Neighborhoods honors model landscapes as certified Florida Yards.

To be certified as Florida Yard, your landscape must:

  • Collect at least 36 inches on this yardstick checklist
  • Receive full points for practices marked with two asterisks**
  • Receive partial credit for practices marked with one asterisk*
  • Comply with all existing codes and laws

Water efficiently

  • Receive two inches -- Mow lawns high to encourage a deeper, more drought and pest tolerant root system. **
  • Receive three inches -- Irrigate lawn and landscape only when they wilt. Apply 1/2 to 3/4 inches water per application.

For a yard that uses an irrigation system (in-ground or hose-end sprinklers) ...

  • Receive one inch -- Calibrate irrigation/sprinkler system to apply 1/2 to 3/4 inches of water. **
  • Receive one inch -- Put a rain gauge in your yard to track irrigation amounts.**
  • Receive two inches -- Install a rain shut-off device for in-ground irrigation systems. **
  • Receive one inch -- Maintain irrigation system and make sure sprinkler heads are properly positioned.
  • Receive two inches -- Make sure irrigation system waters lawn areas separately from plant beds.
  • Receive two inches -- Use drip or micro-irrigation in plant and flower beds.

For a yard that does not use an irrigation system...

  • Receive nine inches -- Design and maintain a landscape that exists predominantly on rainfall once plants are established.


  • Receive two inches -- Maintain a two- to three-inch layer of organic mulch over tree roots, shrubs and plant beds, leaving a two inch space between the plant base and the mulch. *
  • Receive two inches -- Create self-mulching areas under trees where leaves can remain as they fall.
  • Receive two inches -- Use byproduct mulches such as pine bark, melaleuca or recycled mulches.


  • Receive two inches -- Whenever possible, recycle grass clippings by allowing them to remain on the lawn.**
  • Receive two inches -- Use leaves and pine needles found in your yard as mulch.
  • Receive three inches -- Create and maintain a compost pile with yard clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps, etc.


  • Receive three inches -- Plant vines, shrubs, and trees that provide cover, nesting areas or food sources for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
  • Receive one inch -- Provide a water source, such as a bird bath or a small pond for wildlife.
  • Receive one inch -- Provide wildlife shelters such as a bat house, bird house, brush pile, etc.

Yard pests

  • Receive three inches -- Treat only affected plants or lawn areas with pesticide applications. Avoid indiscriminate spraying. **
  • Receive two inches -- Check your landscape every one-two weeks for signs of problems.
  • Receive two inches -- Learn to identify five beneficial insects that provide natural control of harmful pests.
  • Receive three inches -- Use environmentally friendly pesticides such as horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps.

Right plant, right place

  • Receive two inches -- Ensure that your landscape does not contain plants identified by legal code as invasive exotics. **
  • Receive two inches -- Replace problem-prone plants with low maintenance native or non-native species.
  • Receive two inches -- Group plants according to their water and maintenance needs.
  • Receive four inches -- Determine how much grass you need for children, pets, and recreation. Replace the rest with low maintenance ground covers, shrubs, mulch, or other porous surfaces.
  • Receive one inch -- Use trees and shrubs to shade eastern and western walls of home and air conditioner compressor.
  • Receive one inch -- Use deciduous trees on southern exposures to allow the sun to passively heat your home in winter.


  • Receive two inches -- Fertilize as needed to maintain quality of lawns and landscape plants. *
  • Receive two inches -- Use natural organic or other slow release fertilizers. *
  • Receive one inch -- Use iron instead of nitrogen to make your lawn green during the summer.

Stormwater runoff

  • Receive one inch -- Direct downspouts and gutters to drain onto the lawn, plant beds, or containment areas. *
  • Receive two inches -- Plant groundcovers or use mulch on thinly vegetated areas to decrease erosion. *
  • Receive two inches -- Use mulch, bricks, flagstones, gravel or other porous surfaces on walkways, patios or driveways.
  • Receive two inches -- Collect and use rainwater to irrigate plants.
  • Receive three inches -- Create swales or terracing to catch and filter stormwater.

On the waterfront

  • Receive one inch -- Protect your mangroves. All pruning must be in compliance with existing laws. **
  • Receive four inches -- Establish a border of low maintenance plants between your lawn and shoreline/seawall to absorb nutrients and to provide wildlife habitat.
  • Receive four inches -- Where feasible, plant native vegetation in the littoral zone in front of your seawall or along shoreline.
  • Receive three inches -- Decrease wave action and increase habitat by placing clean, native limestone rock in front of your seawall.

If your yard measures up, call the University of Florida/Volusia County Extension and ask for a Florida Yard Adviser.

University of Florida/Volusia County Extension 

386-822-5778  West Volusia
386-257-6012  Daytona Beach
386-423-3368  New Smyrna Beach

Sharon Gamble

West Volusia

Daytona Beach

New Smyrna Beach


Mission: The University of Florida/Volusia County Extension partners with communities to provide quality, relevant education and research-based expertise to foster healthy people, environments and economies.