Sarasota Bay with Ringling Bridge

Bay-Friendly Landscaping

Monarch ButterflyBay-Friendly Landscaping mimics natural systems that recycle everything – water, debris and nutrients. By paying attention to climate, soil conditions and plant choices, Bay-Friendly Landscaping practices save money, conserve resources and reduce waste.

Bay-Friendly Landscaping is an approach to landscaping that makes it easy to enjoy a garden while reducing waste and conserving resources. Bay-Friendly gardens aren’t a mold you have to fit into; they offer endless opportunities, from backyard wildlife gardens and kitchen gardens to native plant communities.

Regional Fertilizer Ordinances and Codes

Sarasota County Fertilizer and Landscape Management Code

Manatee County Fertilizer Ordinance

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Bay-Friendly Gardeners

Landscaping to Save Energy

Landscaping to Save Energy helps to offset the emissions footprint of our everyday activities. When we reduce our carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions we are preserving the vitality of our communities for generations to come. Conventional landscapes require energy intensive, polluting and expensive maintenance habits that heighten the demand for irrigation, chemicals and frequent mowing. Practicing Climate Friendly Landscape Guidelines reduces the demand for non-renewable resources and improves water and air quality.

Download Climate Friendly Landscape Guidelines

Climate Friendly Landscape Guidelines:

  • Landscaping to Save Energy BrochureMinimize mowing
  • Incorporate native plants
  • Conserve energy by conserving water
  • Minimize/eliminate fertilizer and pesticide use
  • Reuse yard waste
  • Increase tree canopy
  • Create biodiversity
  • Naturalize the shoreline
  • Engage your neighborhood

Landscaping for Climate Change has been highlighted by the National Wildlife Federation.

Landscaping with Native Plants

Florida native plants make excellent additions to your yard. The plants are not only beautiful, but also attract wildlife and need less water to survive. Native plants do not need fertilizer since they are adapted to Florida’s nutrient-poor soils. Incorporating flowering plants like firebush or coral honeysuckle will attract hummingbirds and butterflies too.

Living on the Water’s Edge Brochure
A Homeowner’s Guide to Low Maintenance Landscaping Along Seawalls, Bayfronts and Canals (saltwater)

Living on the Water’s Edge Brochure
A Homeowner’s Guide to Low Maintenance Landscaping Along Stormwater Ponds (freshwater)


Florida Yards & Neighborhoods (FYN)

The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program ( was developed by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and the University of Florida Extension Service in the early 1990s. It has become a statewide initiative to create attractive, low-maintenance Florida-Friendly landscapes that conserve water, decrease stormwater run-off and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizer application. This integrated approach to landscaping emphasizes nine interrelated principles. For detailed information about the principles download the FYN Handbook: A Guide to Florida-Friendly Landscaping.
Guide to Florida-Friendly Landscaping

  • Right plant, right place
  • Water efficiently
  • Fertilize appropriately
  • Mulch
  • Attract wildlife
  • Manage yard pests responsibly
  • Recycle yard waste
  • Reduce stormwater runoff
  • Protect the waterfront

For additional information on FYN, a type of Bay-Friendly gardening, visit

New Law Allows Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Despite HOAs

A recent law promotes the installation of Florida-friendly landscaping. The law states that homeowners associations (HOAs) may not prohibit a homeowner from installing Florida-friendly landscaping on their property, or create any requirement or limitation in conflict with state law.

Florida-friendly landscaping emphasizes nine easy-to-accomplish principles that, when practiced, can have a significant positive impact on yards and the environment. The concept was developed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and is based on the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program that was originally created by the Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Programs.King Middle School Volunteers

By following Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices, homeowners use a low-maintenance approach to landscaping that conserves water and reduces chemical and fertilizer use. Homeowners also spend less time maintaining their lawns and more time enjoying them.

“Because homeowners can no longer be prohibited from following Florida-friendly landscaping practices, they will have more freedom to choose the type of plants and turf that are right for their property,” said Sylvia Durell, Florida-friendly landscaping project manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. “This is a great opportunity for homeowners to get know their yard’s sun, soil and moisture conditions and put the right plant in the right place.”

The law also states that HOAs may not fine homeowners for brown lawns when the homeowner is abiding by water shortage rules such as the Water Management District’s water shortage orders that restrict residents to watering their lawns one day per week.