Florida Friendly Landscaping

n 2009 Florida created a statute that allows for property owners to install Florida Friendly Landscaping while still being regulated by their Homeowners’ Association.

Florida Statutes 720.3075(4), states: “Homeowners’ association documents, including declarations of covenants, articles of incorporation, or bylaws, entered after October 1, 2001, may not prohibit any property owner from implementing Xeriscape or Florida-friendly landscape, as defined in s. 373.185(1), on his or her land.”

Florida Statutes 373.185(1)(b), defines “Florida friendly landscape” as “quality landscapes that conserve water and protect the environment and are adaptable to local conditions and which are drought tolerant.” The principles of Xeriscape include planning and design, appropriate choice of plants, soil analysis which may include the use of solid waste compost, efficient irrigation, practical use of turf, appropriate use of mulches, and proper maintenance.”

The law prevents HOAs from restricting owners from using Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices, and prohibits restrictions that require:
• water-wasting practices such as overwatering of plants or inappropriate site design
• inappropriate placement of plants that require regular irrigation to keep the plants healthy
• excessive or improper fertilization
• excessive use of pesticides
• violation of South Florida Water Management District water use restrictions.
• the reasonable and appropriate use of mulch,
• plants attractive to wildlife such as butterfly or hummingbird gardens or other non-nuisance wildlife,
• attractive, well suited plants in the landscape in favor of other plants that are less well suited to the site (wrong plant, wrong place)
• swales or rain gardens, waterfront buffers or other protective practices,
• composting bins or rain barrels, etc.

The purpose of such restrictions are to help conserve water, preserve natural resources and reduce pesticides and pollution. One of the main principles of the law is to use the right plant in the right place to minimize the need for supplemental water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
So examples of what and Association cannot restrict are items such as requiring only St Augustine Turf to be installed in a yard, or preventing certain plants that help to conserve water to be installed and only allowing plants that do not promote water conservation

What also must be kept in mind, is that while an HOA cannot restrict Florida Friendly Landscaping, there can still have restrictions in place that control it being installed. This includes if there is an Architectural Review Committee that has authority over approval of landscaping, an Owner must still submit their plans for the Florida Friendly Landscaping of their yard and receive approval from the ARC before they can proceed.

The Statute also uses the language “quality landscapes”. While a quality landscape is not defined, and Owner replacing dead grass with spots of mulch, or just laying mulch randomly in a yard, would more than likely not fit under the guidelines of “quality landscapes”
Associations must not install and enforce landscape rules and regulations that would prevent an Owner from installing Florida Friendly Landscaping, but at the same time, an Owner must go through the proper procedures of the Association to install such landscaping, and it must be quality landscape design.

More information can be found on the University of Florida’s websites in their
Educational Materials and their Questions and Answers: 2009 Florida-Friendly Landscaping

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