Welcome back to our sixteenth “Wednesday Workshop,” where we breakdown the key characteristics of communities with natural charm. This week we will examine the value of sustainable landscaping, including tree protection standards, for the community and environment.
Sustainable landscaping involves combining natural and manmade elements in order to highlight the ecological systems of the local environment. Sustainable landscaping practices benefit the biosphere by reducing air pollution, energy use, erosion, and stormwater runoff while creating wildlife habitat and strengthening the health of local ecosystems. As for the community, sustainable landscaping increases property values, reduces the costs for irrigation, fertilizer and pesticides, and provides unique aesthetic appeal.
Trees play an integral role in landscaping. They provide an array of ecological benefits, such as reducing the urban heat island effect and supporting urban hydrology, but they also provide economic benefits: according to the American Forestry Association, one tree saves nearly $300 a year by curbing air conditioning, erosion control, wildlife shelter and air pollution reduction costs. Furthermore, urban tree canopies have been found to improve the overall health, safety and well-being of communities.
As referenced in the upcoming Community Development Code, the Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) program seeks to protect Florida’s unique natural resources while also encouraging individual expression for homeowners and communities. The FFL program is centered on nine core principles (as shown in the image gallery); one of which is “Right Plant, Right Place.” The “Right Plant, Right Place” initiative focuses on considering a variety of topographic factors to match plants with specific locations in a landscape to maximize the plant health and minimize the required maintenance.
In addition to the FFL’s nine principles, it is also essential to use mostly native species in the community’s planting palette. Utilizing native vegetation increases biodiversity and requires fewer resources because native species are already highly adapted to the environmental conditions of the region, including climate, soil composition, and pests. The Florida Native Plant Society provides excellent, county-specific resources for sustainable landscaping.
Be sure to check out the Image Gallery for examples of sustainable and native landscaping. Thank you for tuning in and stay on the lookout for more Wednesday Workshop posts!