Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program?
The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program is an educational outreach program informing homeowners and professionals how they can be more environmentally friendly with their landscape care practices and how this can help protect Florida's natural environment for future generations.

Why is this important?
We are all connected to the environmental well-being of Florida's livelihood; through the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the environment we live and play in. Our quality of life depends upon our active participation in the management of Florida's natural resources.

How is the FYN program implemented and what resources are offered?
The University of Florida County Extension Service is the lead agency implementing this program, in partnership with other governmental and non-governmental agencies, the public and private sector and the green industry. Services are offered to homeowners and professionals and vary by county but include workshops and seminars, distribution of printed and web-based educational materials, consultations and yard recognition program and awards.

Who are some of the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods partners?
The University of Florida/Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service initially partnered with the Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay Estuary Programs in starting Florida Yards & Neighborhoods in the early 1990s. Since then, additional partnerships have been developed with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Water Management Districts, city and county governments and utilities, National Estuary Program, homeowner associations and environmental organizations. See our partners page for more details.

Is the program available in my county?
The program is currently active in 48 counties with the goal to eventually include all 67 counties in Florida. The level of activity and services offered vary by county, so contact your county’s Extension office for more information. See the county offices page for contact information.

How can I contact Florida Yards & Neighborhoods?
Your main contact should be with your county’s FYN program. For county contact information, see the county offices page. The state FYN office provides support to the county FYN coordinators implementing the program and works with partner organizations on a statewide or regional level. If you need to speak with someone at the state office, visit our contacts page for details.

I have a suggestion or question about this website. Who can I contact?
See our contacts page for details.

Can I have my yard designed by someone for free?
The program does not have the staff to provide this service. We also are NOT licensed to do landscape designs drawn to scale, with numbers of specific pot sizes, plant costs and irrigation systems drawn out. What we can provide are suggestions for putting the right plant in the right place and which plants can be grouped together according to their cultural needs. Some counties also offer landscape design classes to help you design your Florida-friendly yard. Contact your county’s FYN program for more information.

Do I need a Landscape Designer or Architect to design my yard?
It is not necessary to hire somebody to design your yard. A little planning and a site evaluation will enable you to create your Florida friendly paradise.

Will my yard still look nice if I make it a Florida Friendly Yard? What will my neighbors say?
You can have a yard that protects the environment and looks great too! All kinds of yards, from conventional looking and manicured to more natural looking yards, can be Florida friendly. What makes your landscape Florida friendly is your ability to manage it with minimal use of water, pesticides and fertilizers. You may be able to simply change the way you manage your yard now, or you may need to make some changes in your plants. You will need to accept that a low maintenance yard is not perfect – expect a small amount of pest damage at times and don’t expect a lush green in your lawn at all times. But with careful planning and management, especially in the plants you choose, you can have a yard that is attractive as well as low maintenance. See our photo gallery for examples of different types of yards that are managed in a Florida friendly way.

Does my yard have to be planted with all native plants?
Having all native plants is not a requirement for a Florida Friendly Yard, which can have a variety of plants in it, including ornamental trees or palms, shrubs, flowering perennials, fruit trees, groundcovers and herbs, as long as they are planted in the right place for their cultural needs and managed in a Florida friendly way. The key to easy maintenance that reduces the impact on the environment is to choose hardy, low maintenance plants that are well adapted to growing where you live. Many native plants will do well in the landscape when planted under the right conditions (watch for compacted soils, which can cause problems). Using native plants is also the best way to provide habitat for native Florida wildlife.

Do I have to get rid of my lawn?
You can have grass in your yard and still have a Florida Friendly Yard. How you maintain your yard is what makes it Florida friendly. Lawns are good groundcovers for children and dogs to play on, high foot traffic areas, swales and a place for the occasional car to park on, but if your lawn area doesn’t serve a function, you might consider a lower maintenance groundcover instead. Also consider the maintenance needs of each type of grass. Remember that a Florida Friendly Yard is one that uses minimal amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizers. If you want a Florida Friendly Yard, decide if you can maintain the lawn you have without using too much water or contributing to fertilizers and pesticides getting into our water sources.

How much does it cost to have my yard recognized as a Florida Friendly Yard?
If the yard recognition program is offered in your county, there is no charge, only a commitment from you to follow Florida friendly maintenance guidelines.

What if my yard doesn’t achieve the required points to be designated as a Florida Friendly Yard?
If the recognition program is offered in your county, Master Gardener volunteers will most likely visit your yard to evaluate it using the homeowner FYN Yard Recognition Checklist. Don’t worry if you don’t receive the Florida Friendly Yard designation the first time. The volunteers who evaluate your yard will explain ways to improve your landscape practices and get you on track to achieve the designation the next time. You make the changes and reschedule a site evaluation. There are also three levels of recognition, so if you receive the basic designation, you can continue to make changes and try for a higher level of recognition in the future.