South Florida’s Trifecta: Summer Rain, Yard Pests, and Mulch

Jenkins Landscape has always been deeply connected to the 9 Principals of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ as defined by the University of Florida | IFAS Extension

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

South Florida’s sandy soil and torrential summer rainstorms require a measured approach to landscape design. We prioritize native Florida plants that adapt well to specific locations to balance the even distribution of sunlight, soil, and water. When we install an irrigation system, we prioritize water conservation to make sure that plant fertilizers will not flow into ponds, lakes or other bodies of water. We also employ smart fertilization that won’t damage plants or the environment. 

The job of mulch is to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds, and also give the landscape an orderly, neat look. Adding mulch just before a major rainfall can cause some of that mulch to run off or in high winds, blow away. In south Florida, that’s why we may recommend stone-lined paths or brooks that guide rainwater away from turf and toward proper drainage systems. 

South Florida’s rainy season also brings on the yard pests…all sorts of critters, some good (like butterflies) and some not good (like grub worms, mole crickets, and chinch bugs). Did you know that Florida-Friendly Landscaping offers a free Mobile App so anyone can identify common landscape pests?

Our design philosophy is… Design Innovation Meets Sustainable Landscapes. When stormwater is an issue, we contract with landscape architects that are licensed by the state of Florida to design walkways, walls, softscapes, swales, and other systems that use natural depressions and rocks to slow water flow, prevent flooding, and protect a landscape investment. Please call us if your landscape needs the “right plant in the right place” to sustain efficient movement of water. 

How Florida-Friendly Landscaping Works

We are big fans of Florida-friendly landscaping.
That why we support each of its 9 principles and
incorporate them into our landscape designs and practices.

1. Right Plant, Right Place. There are over 330 annuals, ferns, ground covers, grasses, palms, perennials, shrubs, trees and vines that all thrive along the Treasure Coast. 

2. Water Efficiently.  Our article on “smart irrigation” shows how technology can monitor weather, soil moisture, evaporation rates and plant water use then automatically adjust sprinkler schedules to actually save both water and money.

3. Fertilize Appropriately.  Nitrogen in fertilizer is health food for plant-life, but too much can hurt plants, birds and animals—and pollute our aquifers. Watch this video and use only a licensed applicator.

4. Mulch.  Great for giving your landscape that “finished” appearance, mulch is also good for the soil. It reduces the spread of weeds and it moderates soil temperatures. Caution! Don’t use cypress mulch. Lumbering has decimated our cypress trees!

5. Attract Wildlife. Birds and critters love plants with seeds, fruit, flowers, and berries, and they love a cool splash in a rain garden or bird bath. Learn how to attract butterflies with wildflowers.

6. Manage Yard Pests. Think ahead! Choose pest-resistant varieties or practice integrated pest management. Learn how. Identify those pests with the IFAS/UFL tool.

7. Recycle Yard Waste. Our crews always remove major yard waste, but on request will leave some onsite for a client’s compost pile/bin. Compost is a sustainable way to create organic fertilizer for use in plant beds and gardens. Read Trash Talk from UF/IFAS.

8. Reduce Stormwater Runoff. Water that is clean and chemical free can be strategically diverted to run through berms and swales to give it time to soak into the ground. Permeable walkways, patios and driveways also reduce stormwater runoff.

9. Protect the Waterfront. If your home is on a lake, next to a spring, or overlooking a beach, a ten-foot “low-maintenance zone” that is not mowed, fertilized, or sprayed with pesticides protects native water plants and may attract interesting animal life. 

Image from UF/IFAS

How We Preserve Our Most Important Natural Resource – Water!

When it rains, it pours! This familiar phrase was first coined by Morton Salt in 1911 to sell their first free-flowing salt that promised not to clump on rainy days. The classic catch-phrase suggests that “one bad thing follows another” — like rain (or lack of it) in south Florida. 

South Florida’s tropical landscapes thrive with an average of 8.5 inches of rain in August, but need irrigation to survive the January drought of just 2.5 inches. 

Florida has a water problem! Our water-dependent ecosystems of springs, rivers, lakes and wetlands must survive these flood-to-drought situations and can only do so if we adopt landscape irrigation restrictions and increase our use of reclaimed water.

Green Cay Wetlands in Florida. Robin Mehdee/Flickr

According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce Florida’s population could increase to nearly 26 million by 2030, a number larger than the entire population of Australia. Practicing environmentally-friendly landscaping practices are vital to protect, conserve, and sustain our water needs for people and commerce.

This is why Jenkins Landscape is a major supporter of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) programs from the University of Florida IFAS Extension. FLL promotes nine basic landscape principles for water conservation:

  1. right plant, right place
  2. water efficiently
  3. fertilize appropriately
  4. mulch
  5. attract wildlife
  6. manage yard pests responsibly
  7. recycle
  8. reduce stormwater runoff
  9. protect the waterfront

We design, install and maintain low-impact landscapes according to FLL principles, but any homeowner or HOA can adopt these practices on their own. For example:

  • Prevent irrigation runoff when rainfall is plentiful using a zone approach for irrigation with a functioning automatic rainfall shutoff device for in-ground systems and a rain gauge to track rainfall amounts. 
  • During dry months, use low-flow irrigation methods with a soil moisture sensor in plant and flower beds. 
  • Use “smart clocks” on systems to save thousands of gallons of water annually.

Water conservation must be a top priority of all Floridians, especially with the new surge of incoming residents. FFL’s program for residential landscapes, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods, educates homeowners on how to design, install and maintain low-impact landscapes. 

All landscapes are not the same. Some have large areas of turf and smaller plant and flower beds; others have minimal turf grass areas and expansive shade and plant beds. Each landscape requires a specialized approach to water conservation.

Do you want to be part of the water-saving solution?


Visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for ideas and suggestions on what you can do to conserve our most important resource – water!


Clients trust us to design, manage and maintain their yards, create healthy, beautiful landscapes and irrigation systems in ways that conserve Florida’s vital water resources. Call us (772) 546-2861 and ask to speak with a water conservation expert.

asterisk When it comes to using technology to practice water conservation, Jenkins personnel use a “smart watering” solution that enables our technicians to actually “show” you in graphic detail how much water and money you saved every month. Ask us about our newest Internet-connected water management solution!

Please share this newsletter with anyone you know that cares about water conservation and protection of Florida’s most important natural resource.