How would you like to have your landscape become an asset instead of an expense? If planned properly, your landscape could become a return on investment instead of a constant expense!
If you transform your living space, you could save money!
Even your irrigation system can be optimized for savings, a 50 to 67% reduction in watering expenses if irrigation is scheduled properly.
Let's add this up: lf the irrigation bill is 75, saving about half of this is 37.50 per month or 450 per year of savings
You could even take it a step further and integrate some plant material such as fruit trees and a small easy to manage garden that would put food on the table, a further return on your investment.
Here are some facts to keep in mind when comparing costs (seen/unseen) between turf dominated landscape and native/Florida friendly:
Irrigation of landscapes can be responsible for more than half of the water consumption of residential homeowners. This is a fact confirmed by research at University of Florida. Public water use in Florida in 2005 totaled 2.54 billion, gallons/day (USGS 2005). Sixty-one percent of this went to residential water use, with sixty-four percent of that applied as landscape irrigation (Fernald and Purdum 1998).
When you do the math that is 1 Billion gallons of water in a year applied to landscape irrigation.
This is a staggering number. With most water management districts raising concerns about water with ads like the one shown below, it may be time make some changes.
Check out this link to give it a try: http://www.mosi.org/education/waterworld/ways-to-save.aspx
With a native or Florida friendly landscape:
You can reduce irrigation by 56 - 67%, once that landscape is established.
Irrigation use can account for about half your water bill.
Success will depend on plant selection, installation, and establishment.
These three primary areas are where I can help the most.
Mowing & maintenance
A typical turf dominated landscape requires regular mowing, we all know that. But how does this impact surrounding ecosystems? Mowers must be fed gas and oil, and most do not have emissions control. A few do if they were bought new within the last year or two. Did you know that one hour of push mower use equals 50 miles in a typical car (EPA 1991). Gasoline-powered landscape equipment (mowers, trimmers, blowers, chainsaws) account for over 5% of our urban air pollution (http://www.epa.gov/greenkit/landscap.htm) The potential emissions savings statewide can become as big a factor as water savings.
With a native or Florida friendly landscape you can eliminate mowing costs associated with lawn care. The only exception would be if you chose to install a bahia lawn. The lawn care costs associated with bahia mowing are about half, since bahia only actively grows during the summer, then goes dormant in the winter. Bahia must be used in full sun, further limiting use and subsequent mowing needs.
Below left, you see a new landscape that replaced a previously problematic lawn. And on the right, you see the narrow strip between the sidewalk and road that has been replaced with Florida friendly variegted asiatic jasmine. This narrow strip used to need constant water and chemicals only to be replaced again and again. Now, problem solved.
Without bahia grass, the primary maintenance costs associated with a native or Florida friendly landscape would then only be:
After installing a native or Florida friendly landscape I usually recommend a plan for performing these duties at regular intervals, with mulching being annual (as long as it is done right to start).
Did you know that 67 million lbs of pesticides are applied on lawns each year in the US (http://www.epa.gov/greenacres/smithsonian.pdf). Residential application of pesticides is typically at a rate 20 times that of farmers per acre; it results in many unintended results (http://www.epa.gov/greenkit/landscap.htm). This is termed non-point source pollution. This type of pollution cannot be attributed to any one culprit, such as a factory. It is the accumulated runoff and percolation through the soil profile of chemicals applied all over. These chemicals don't break down fast enough either because they are over applied or simply don't break down into harmless components.
In a native or Florida friendly landscape, chemical management is really not necessary. Plants that fall into these categories really don't have many pest problems. In fact, most support our native fauna providing food for birds and habitat for beneficial insects.
IPM (integrated pest management) can be practiced in a native landscape, encouraging the proliferation of natural insect predators that control harmful pests. These insects pose no threat or problem to the homeowner, and help to naturally keep the population of unwanted insects down.
These beneficial insects include lady bugs, praying mantis, and green lacewing. The lacewing is shown below as larvae on the left and adult on the right.
In the rare occasion that chemicals must be used, then you simply ID the pest and treat for that specifically. The one thing you wouldn't want to do is broadcast broad spectrum pesticides that kill all insects. These chemicals also kill your beneficial insects, which take much longer to establish and build a population.