Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Make your landscape Florida-friendly.

As the summer sun beats down on Florida lawns, thirsty plants and grass start to wither. But with the watering restrictions and strict homeowner association rules, what's a homeowner to do? • Create a Florida-friendly yard, which will be cheaper and require less maintenance than a traditional yard because the plants and grasses are matched with local conditions. • Have dry, sandy soil? Consider Bahia grass instead of the thirsty St. Augustine variety. Got a shady spot where grass won't grow? Put in some colorful caladiums. • There's no set formula, since each yard is different, but the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program has a Web site that can help:

Many homeowners associations encourage pristine expanses of water-guzzling St. Augustine grass. Lisa Strange, of the Hillsborough County Extension Service, wants to change that.

She tries to convince association leaders that Florida-friendly yards can be beautiful, too. Many deed-restricted communities — like Valrico Oaks in eastern Hillsborough —require St. Augustine grass.

"It's in the covenants, so it's obviously something the membership wants," said association president Tom McMullen.

Besides environmental concerns, watering can get expensive.

Julie Ames, who lives in Mason Oaks in Valrico, said she would be open to change. A neighbor attempted to plant zoysia grass, but it didn't look good, she said. "We were all hoping it'd be the answer."

Upon request, Strange will make presentations to associations about alternatives. But, mostly she says it's "like beating my head against a brick wall."

State law prevents deed-restricted communities built after 2001 to prohibit residents from planting Florida-friendly landscapes. But residents who live in communities where St. Augustine is required can still make changes, Strange said.

A yard filled with site-appropriate plants, low-volume irrigation and less grass could easily meet communities' goals of having attractive yards, she said.

Any neighborhood interested in changing its bylaws to allow Florida-friendly landscaping should contact Strange at (813) 744-5519, ext. 142.

Make your landscape Florida-friendly. 06/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 10:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]