Protecting the Health of Florida's Springs - One Yard at a Time

What is a Florida Springs Friendly Yard?

With the goals of reducing aquifer nitrogen pollution and groundwater depletion, there are three objectives to achieving a “Springs Friendly Yard”:


First, a “Florida Springs Friendly Yard” is free of fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides. Due to Florida’s sandy, well drained soils, some portion of these landscape products can end up in the Floridan Aquifer. Since the goal is reducing nitrogen pollution in the aquifer, no additional nitrate-nitrogen should reach Florida’s groundwater due to yard maintenance. Excess nitrate-nitrogen in groundwater is harmful to humans and to the springs. One way that we can protect our drinking water aquifer and springs is by committing to a chemical-free landscape.


The second step to creating a “Florida Springs Friendly Yard” is to eliminate reliance on groundwater for landscape irrigation and gardening. Florida is blessed with an abundance of natural rainfall. In addition to the direct benefits of rainfall, homeowners can install rain barrels or a cistern to capture and store rainwater for use during dry periods. By increasing our reliance on rainfall and minimizing our dependence on groundwater, we will help to keep our underground aquifers full and our springs healthy. Implementing water conservation practices will also help. By eliminating yard irrigation and focusing on native plants, we can reduce our reliance on watering. When new plants are being established, make sure to water in the early morning or in the late evening to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation. 


The last objective is to curate a native landscape. According to the Florida Native Plant Society, “Florida native plants include those species understood as indigenous, occurring in natural associations in habitats that existed prior to significant human impacts and alterations of the landscape.” Because native species are well adapted to local soil and water conditions, they are naturally drought tolerant and chemical-free landscape options. Native plant species have unique relationships with local wildlife and will also support habitat for native pollinator species. A great resource for native plant information and options can be found through the Florida Native Plant Society.

In order to protect your “Florida Springs Friendly Yard” and the native plants therein, it is also important to recognize and remove invasive plants. According to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, Category I invasive plants are species that are “altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives.” A full list of invasive plants can be found here: https://www.fleppc.org/list/list.htm. 

The springs and the life-sustaining water that we draw from the aquifer are not limitless resources. The overall health and productivity of Florida’s springs are in decline. The welfare of our springs is at a critical juncture and you can do your part to help save them by pledging to maintain a “Florida Springs Friendly Yard”. Together we can help save our springs – “One Yard at a Time”.

Check out these videos that we created for Earth Week that show how we created a Springs Friendly Yard at the Florida Springs Institute! 



The Florida Springs Friendly Yards program was funded in part through generous support from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida