The eco-smart choice for beauty and home value
“La Florida” means feast of flowers! With a year-round growing season, we embrace the opportunity to surround ourselves with an amazing array of flowering plants. Alachua County is the place where the northern hardwoods commingle with the southern tropicals, giving us a great variety of native species to learn about and enjoy. We are truly an Eden.
Florida-friendly yards are a way of life. We relate to Europeans who refer to their yards as “gardens” because we understand that we each care for a piece of a bigger ecosystem. Our migratory birds, butterflies and other wildlife depend on our role in protecting and caring for their natural habitats. In the past decade, the Florida Friendly Yards movement has blossomed into the centerpiece of our outdoor lifestyle.
In neighborhoods across the county, old sod yards are being ripped up to create beautiful, native landscapes. Our Alachua County Extension Office is a gold mine of helpful, free information, workshops and events. Wendy Wilber, who runs the Extension Office, is our Florida Friendly Gardening Guru!
Master Gardener classes fill up quickly and graduate Master Gardeners have positioned themselves everywhere to add assistance to our every gardening whim and need. (We also have a Master Naturalist class, but that’s another story!)
It is common for us to have different garden plants blooming each and every month to attract seasonal birds and butterflies. Native landscapers, horticulturalists and entire local nurseries are just a phone call away. We all love living on our patios, decks and in our gardens, surrounded by container gardening, rooftop gardening, hydroponics, edible landscapes, you name it—plants have become an obsession.
And wait until you experience your first Florida holiday season! Our poinsettias grow 10 feet tall and we have big vases of red, white and pink camellias decorating our tables next to giant bowls overflowing with pecans, lemons and oranges—truly an ongoing feast for the senses.
So come join the Florida friendly fun!
We have a Florida Friendly Yard in Downtown Gainesville. We moved into our house about 7 years ago and soon replaced the traditional lawn and landscape with native plants, paths, mulch and bird feeders. About a year later we removed the rest of the lawn in the back yard and put in a flagstone and recycled concrete patio and a koi pond with a waterfall.
The yard teems with bees, butterflies, birds and other creatures. The neighbors have been very encouraging and positive. We enjoy the ease of maintenance and the abundance of flower colors and wildlife.
It’s relatively low maintenance. Because the plants are mostly native and adapted to Florida environments, we do not need to water much–only when we have new transplants or we’ve had weeks of hot, dry weather. We don’t need to cover plants when it freezes, or use fertilizer or pesticides. Weeds are easy to spot through the mulch. We’ve had great luck with coreopsis, blanket flower, spiderwort, blue curls and snow squarestem, to name just a few. We have such an abundance of wildflowers that we often share plants, and the neighbors have enthusiastically participated! Having a Florida Friendly Yard has been a very positive and rewarding experience for us.
Submitted by Gainesville residents Katherine and Art Edison