CONDO AND HOME OWNER
Florida leads the nation in the number of
communities governed by condominium
and home owner associations. Most new
homes are built in developments managed
by associations. These associations are
legally empowered to create and enforce
rules intended to protect property values and
maintain the community’s established character.
Many associations have very detailed
rules about landscaping and the process for
getting landscape designs and changes approved.
Property owners who don’t follow
the rules run into financial penalties and
often worse, community discord.
Traditionally, landscaping has been valued
primarily for its appearance. Thus, most
association rules have focused on what the
landscaping looks like—not how
it functions ecologically. This is
beginning to change as communities
demand more environmentally
and sustainability. The University
of Florida has developed the
™” education program to
help Florida property owners
and industry professionals learn
about common-sense landscaping
practices that can reduce our
impact on the environment.
Florida has legislation in place to
protect communities and homeowners
who want to use Floridafriendly
Appearance will always be
important. So communities really
need excellent examples of
attractive landscapes that use
native plants to conserve water
supply and water quality, support
wildlife including pollinators,
and increase joy, not toil, in
THE VILLAGES EXAMPLE
The Villages is a mostly upscale, modern development
of multiple managed golf course
communities housing some 100,000 people
in Sumter, Marion and Lake Counties,
Florida. Growth of The Villages has resulted
in dramatically increased water consumption
in a region of dangerous sinkholes and
now disappearing natural springs. Community
common area and private landscapes
are what residents refer to as “neat and tidy”
in appearance, featuring lawns and manicured
shrubbery. The irrigation, fertilizer,
pesticides and other controls required to
maintain appearances endanger the health
of the ecosystem.
The Villages wants to maintain its style.
Environmentally informed community
members are worried about water and more.
Villager Carol Spears shows off her native wildflowers.
In the foreground, Silphium or Rosinweed, a long
blooming, perennial butterfly magnet with cheery
yellow flowers to keep your neighbors happy. Florida
has two native species: Starry Rosinweed, Silphium
asteriscus, and Bigleaf Rosinweed, Silphium compositum.
In the back, Firebush, Hamelia patens, with
nearly year-round red blooms that attract butterflies,
hummingbirds and people. Carol’s sunny yard is
packed with native wildflowers and native butterfly
host plants to feed caterpillars. Visiting Carol is like
visiting a butterfly theme park without the crowds.
Keeping it neat, tidy and native. This maintenance crew is
not edging turfgrass. They’re edging Turkey-tangle Fogfruit,
Phyla nodiflora, a flowering evergreen native groundcover that
attracts pollinators and butterflies and is a good choice for a
low traffic lawn area that is periodically irrigated or receives
stormwater runoff. Because this neighborhood is filled with
manicured lawns, the maintenance crew string trims the
Fogfruit a few times a year to maintain a “cut” lawn-like
appearance. If you don’t need a “cut” lawn appearance,
don’t cut the Fogfruit. Leave the tiny flowers for the bees and
enjoy seeing Phaon Crescent, White Peacock and Common
Buckeye butterflies lay their eggs. Do not apply pesticides.
WWW.PLANTREALFLORIDA.ORG GUIDE FOR REAL FLORIDA GARDENERS FALL 2018 | 5