For Davids column IMG_0158

J. shared this picture of his garden. It looks awesome.

“We thoroughly enjoy our yard showcasing Florida native perennial plants that supply constant flowers and beauty for us as well as a habitat for birds, butterflies and pollinators.

“The News Leader is a great paper. Better every week. Thank you for caring.” – J.

J. I wish more Floridians would go native when it comes to their yard. I also have a Florida-friendly yard – not a blade of grass.

Many of our non-native Floridians from up North want to have that nice grass lawn like they had up North, even though we live in the tropics.

We like to plant water-hungry St. Augustine grass and nonnative flowering plants to make our lawns look nice. That’s just fine on the outside.

On the inside, it’s a different world. Pollinators, birds and other wildlife can struggle to find sustenance in these yards. And, Florida’s aquifers are too low and not replenishing rapidly enough. For most of central Florida, these depleting aquifers are where we get our water. Unbelievably, Florida uses about half of its water on irrigating our lawns and golf courses.

This passion for water-hungry grass lawns and nonnative plants is particularly noticeable in our gated communities. Many homeowner associations would go mentally ballistic if they saw a lawn like J.’s in their community.

Fortunately, an environmentally friendly Republican state government passed a law in 2009 which basically states Florida-friendly landscaping serves a compelling public interest. You can read the statute here: m.flsenate.gov/Statutes/373.185. This public interest overrides homeowner association rules. I’m not a lawyer, so before you decide to take on your homeowner association, you may want to consult one.

Another good reason to be Florida-friendly is saving the Everglades. Most folks think of the Everglades at the southern tip of Florida. The central Florida section of the Everglades system actually starts near Orlando.

What drains from our area of central Florida travels down the Kissimmee basin and aquifers and ends up in the Everglades. We are spending billions to restore our rivers and lakes right here in Central Florida from the toxins we humans have allowed to get in our waters, including from our lawns.

Thank you to the 2009 Republicans in Tallahassee for recognizing the importance of our water supply and environment. Take a look at Floridayards.org for more information. Would you, as an individual Floridian, consider being more Florida-friendly?

Share your thoughts: David@D-R.Media.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun, as well as newspapers in Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .

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