Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) is the state of Florida’s premier Extension program that promotes sustainable alternatives to “conventional” landscaping, providing guidance on low impact, environmentally friendly, science-based landscape practices that use less water and reduce pollutant loading to Florida waters. Since 1994, FFL has served Florida as a partnership between the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (UF/IFAS Extension) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
The FFL approach is based on the 9 FFL Principles: 1) Right Plant, Right Place; 2) Water Efficiently; 3) Fertilize Appropriately; 4) Mulch; 5) Attract Wildlife; 6) Manage Yard Pests Responsibly; 7) Recycle; 8) Reduce Storm Water Runoff; and 9) Protect the Waterfront. The overall goal is to reduce nonpoint source pollution through proper fertilization, irrigation, and pesticide use on residential and commercial landscapes.
FFL promotes its nine principles through three main programs that target diverse audiences.
Most FFL public outreach is conducted through county Extension offices and there are FFL Extension agents and program coordinators in 51 counties statewide. FFL is also closely aligned with the UF/IFAS-funded Florida Master Gardener (MG) program, which has a statewide network of MG coordinators distributed across 60 counties and over 4,000 MG volunteers who spend 50 percent of their public outreach time on FFL topics.
In a typical year county-based FFL programs conduct in excess of 4,000 FFL workshops for over 150,000 homeowners and MG volunteers have direct contact with hundreds of thousands more. County-based FFL home irrigation assessment programs annually account for several hundred million gallons of home irrigation water savings.
In addition, county-based UF/IFAS Extension agents provide the legislatively mandated GI-BMP training to landscaping professionals. The GI-BMP program also trains and certifies qualified volunteers from the green industry, government and education to teach the GI-BMP classes. Since its start in 2002 the GI-BMP program has trained over 66,000 professionals in the proper use of landscaping BMPs.
The original concepts behind Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ can be traced to 1991 with the ECO-Neighborhoods program of the private, non-profit Marine Resources Council (MRC; savetheirl.org) based in Brevard County. The MRC implemented ECO-Neighborhoods as a multi-county effort to address ongoing water quality degradation in the Indian River Lagoon. ECO-Neighborhoods pioneered many of the sustainable landscaping practices that we use today to reduce residential fertilizer, pesticide and water use and which remain familiar to us as the FFL 9 Principles.
The MRC ECO-Neighborhoods concepts and public outreach methods caught on quickly and in 1992 were adopted by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP; tbep.org), who named their program Florida-Neighborhoods. Starting in the mid-1990’s, Florida Neighborhoods transitioned into the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods (FYN) program managed through UF/IFAS Extension in partnership with FDEP. With FDEP funding FYN steadily expanded statewide until it was active in some 50 of Florida’s 67 counties. FDEP has continually funded the FYN program since 1994.
In the early 2000’s, but at that time independently of the FYN program, a collaboration of local governments, regulatory agencies, landscaping industry representatives, and UF/IFAS developed a set of landscaping protocols and an associated training program targeted to commercial landscaping professionals. This training program, the Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) program, was partnered with the FYN program in 2008 to create the Florida Friendly Landscaping™ program. Since that time the UF/IFAS lead team of instructors has trained tens of thousands of landscaping professionals in GI-BMP protocols, training that the Florida legislature made mandatory starting in 2014.
In 2019 the FFL program grew again to include the Florida-Friendly Communities (FFC) program, which seeks to collaborate with builders/developers, homeowners associations (HOAs), and community/property managers to integrate FFL landscaping into their properties, neighborhoods, and communities.
The vision of the FFL program is to be the champion of Florida’s environment through science, education, and inspiration.
The mission of the FFL program is to deliver science-based education that promotes the adoption of environmentally friendly landscape practices to protect Florida’s water and natural resources.