St. Johns County, FL. – St. Johns County homeowners can choose to have the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program evaluate their
yards based on Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles. By meeting minimum requirements and collecting at least 50 points, a homeowner will be recognized as having a Florida-Friendly Yard. Owners of Florida-Friendly Yards receive a sign to display in the yard along with a certificate. Those going beyond 50 points can achieve a gold-level status.
To participate in the program, the St. Johns County Agricultural Center encourages homeowners to refrain from applying fertilizer within 24 hours of a tropical storm or depression, and to not fertilize within 10 feet of any water body. This will reduce chemicals from entering the runoff since fertilizer runoff occurs when more water reaches fertilized soil than the ground than can absorb. The fertilizer or pesticides not taken up by root systems or absorbed into the soil can run off into storm drains or nearby bodies of water and detrimentally affect water quality and the fragile ecosystems our water resources support. Additionally, any chemicals that have leached into the eroded soil that is washed away, along with landscape debris, can also cause adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people.
Using fertilizer properly and reducing stormwater runoff are two of the nine Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles used to evaluate yards. Additionally, homeowners are encouraged to plant the right plant in the right place, water efficiently, use mulch, attract beneficial wildlife, manage yard pests responsibly, recycle yard waste, and protect the waterfront.
Other considerations include using a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer, using iron instead of nitrogen, timing the applications, and only hiring legally certified professionals. St. Johns County requires businesses who commercially apply fertilizer to be licensed by the State of Florida, and commercial application has to follow the Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMPs). More information about the Florida-Friendly Landscaping and GI-BMP programs can be found at http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/index.html, or calling the St. Johns County Agricultural Center at 904.209.0430.