(1) Incorporate Native Plants in Your Landscaping - When planning your landscape, consider using a collection of North Florida plants. Native plants are adapted to our area, which means they naturally require less maintenance and water than exotic or imported plants. They are also more resistant to Florida’s pests and diseases than many exotics, reducing the need for pesticides.
(2) Plant Deciduous Shade Trees to Reduce Energy Use - Planting deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves in the fall) is a great way to cool your home and reduce your cooling costs during Jacksonville’s warm summer. When these trees drop their leaves, they also allow sunlight to warm a home or building during the winter. To increase the benefits of deciduous trees, plant tall trees on the east and west-facing sides of your home.
(3) Plant Evergreen Trees to Block Cold Winter Winds - Evergreen trees are very useful if you want to create a natural windbreak to reduce those chilly north east winds that hit your home during the winter months.
(4) Use Efficient, Non-polluting Reel or Electric Lawn Mowers - While gas-powered mowers are a great time-saving device, there are alternatives that are cleaner, non-polluting and more energy efficient. Modern reel mowers are a great way to mow the lawn and get exercise at the same time. They are also easier to use than you might imagine.
(5) Convert to Drip Irrigation Systems - Drip irrigation systems offer huge water savings as they deliver water directly to your plants with minimal waste. Drip irrigation systems are around 90 percent more efficient than old methods. Many existing sprinkler heads can be converted to drip irrigation with minimal costs.
(6) Use with Solar Powered Landscaping Lights - While solar energy can still be expensive for a lot of homeowners, using a few solar powered landscaping lights can help to reduce your energy use. Many solar solutions are available at Home Depot or Lowes and are cheaper than you might think.
(7) Use Permeable Paver or Hardscape Solutions – There is an ever growing selection of permeable pavement available from local paver contractors to contain water on your property and prevent runoff.
(8) Use Rain Barrels for Irrigation - You can cut back on your water use by storing rain water in barrels and using it to water your plants and grass during periods of no rain. Rainwater is naturally soft water that is chemical-free. Plants love it! Using rainwater also cuts back storm water runoff.
(9) Compost - Composting occurs in nature and is a process that keeps organic nutrients cycling from soil to plants and back to the soil. You can use food waste from your home to return needed nutrients to the soil. Things like fruit peels, grass clippings, leaves, etc. are great materials to recycle and mix into the soil.
(10) Use Natural and Organic Products - Try out a few organic pesticides or fertilizers and see what works for you in the Jacksonville area. Even if you switch to just a couple organic products, you’ll be helping by reducing harmful wastewater runoff and creating a healthier environment for your family and pets. There are also a few organic spraying services that have popped up around town.