A Step-by-Step Guide to a Florida Native Yard

Ginny Stibolt and Marjorie Shropshire


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“Takes the mystery out of transforming the common urban landscape into a true Florida paradise filled with wildlife activity and native colors and textures. You can’t go wrong following this logical step-by-step process.”—Lisa Roberts, executive director, Florida Wildflower Foundation  
 
“Ideal guidance for those converting their traditional turf-dominated landscape into a more sustainable and wildlife-friendly one.”—Stephen P. Turnipseed, president, The Villages chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society    
 
More and more Florida residents are deciding to replace highly fertilized, over-watered, pesticide-dependent lawns with native plants. They want to reduce their carbon footprints; save time, water, and money; and attract birds and butterflies. But where to begin? This illustrated guide will help you create new outdoor spaces that are both sustainable and beautiful.  
 
Taking the common 1/3-acre lot as an example, Ginny Stibolt and Marjorie Shropshire provide a sample layout for a basic native plant landscape. They use a grid system that allows gardeners to work on their yards in small sections instead of trying to revamp the entire landscape at once. The grid system can also be reduced or expanded for yards of varying size. By breaking down the process into individual steps, creating a Florida garden is achievable for beginners and experts alike.  
 
The first step is assessing your property and choosing which plants to keep and which to remove. Then, design your landscape to soak up more stormwater through the use of rain barrels, rain gardens, or ponds. The next steps involve planting trees, understory plants, and installing butterfly gardens. There are additional instructions for building wild areas into your landscape to provide habitat for birds and pollinators; creating a flexible outdoor “room” perfect for your family’s needs today and into the future; and using plants to cool the air, provide screening for privacy, buffer incoming winds, and reduce noise.  
 
By following these methods, anyone can convert all or part of their yard into a more natural area without using pesticides or artificial fertilizers, which will save money, reduce pollution, and help support wildlife. Complete with detailed diagrams, a timeline for growth and maintenance, and lists of suggested plants for each step, this guide will help readers set up an environmentally friendly habitat and give them the time and peace of mind to enjoy it.  
 
Ginny Stibolt, a freelance writer, botanist, and experienced gardener, is the author of The Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape and Sustainable Gardening for Florida, and coauthor of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida. Marjorie Shropshire, a visual artist whose work is deeply concerned with the conservation of Florida’s natural areas, is the editor of Palmetto, the magazine of the Florida Native Plant Society. 
 
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