Butterfly Garden by David Copps
Like us, wildlife must have access to fresh, clean sources of water in order to stay healthy. Each one of us has a responsibility to protect Florida’s abundant water, whether it is the groundwater that flows beneath our properties or surface water such as lakes, rivers, springs, swamps and estuaries. Our properties ultimately connect to waterways and are influenced by our landscaping and lifestyle choices.
If you live on the waterfront, help protect this important transition zone between water and land by incorporating native trees, shrubs and wetland plants into your shoreline landscaping. It’s an ideal location for plants that will provide habitat and food for wading birds, fish, aquatic invertebrates and other wildlife, while also helping to control erosion and capture pollutants before they enter the water. Before you begin any modification of your shoreline, check with your county planning or growth management office to make sure your plans comply with specific local ordinances and to locate programs and resources that may assist you.
Plan on making your shoreline planting zone at least 10-feet wide and avoid mowing it or applying fertilizers and pesticides. The plants you select will vary depending on the slope of the shoreline and water depth. Books, websites and articles listed throughout our resource section will guide your selection and help you avoid invasive, nonnative plants.
Not on the waterfront? You can still beautify your property with a rain garden that captures storm water runoff and provides habitat for plants and animals adapted to moist conditions. And no matter where you live, you can keep septic tanks maintained and limit fertilizer and pesticide use.
These practices create pleasing landscapes that attract wildlife while protecting the quantity and quality of Florida’s water resources.