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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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