I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Symposium at the University of Florida’s Plant Science Research & Education Unit in Citra, FL this past week. Attendees included master gardeners, community managers, homeowners and HOA board members. Several interesting topics were addressed including benefits to communities using FFL guidelines, using turfgrass in a FFL yard, guidelines for HOAs to follow when revising ARB criteria to incorporate FS 373.185/FFL principles and retrofitting traditional yards into Florida-friendly yards. I plan to cover some of the highlights of the different sessions in the coming weeks.
There were a number of good take-aways for each group of attendees and an opportunity to hear about issues affecting communities in other parts of the state. From the discussions it is apparent many of the the same issues are arising in different areas with a few success stories, countless frustrations and some additional HOA disputes involving attorneys that I had not heard of yet. I encouraged attendees to join the Homeowners For Florida-Friendly Yards Facebook group in order for homeowners, property managers and HOA Board members to be aware of what is going on throughout the state with more homeowners wishing to conserve water with drought-tolerant yards.
It’s all about awareness/education and as more people become aware of the damage to our waterways, the declining health of pets or humans from exposure to chemical applications for a green, weed-free lawn and the needless waste of one of our most precious resources, there will be more disputes arising between the “awares” and the “unawares”. Unfortunately many of the “unawares” are HOA Board members and community managers. One thing is certain – if you live in a community with ARB guidelines and they have not been revised to incorporate Florida Statute 373.185 and FFL principles – NOW is the time to encourage your HOA Board members to revise their guidelines! Attend a HOA Board meeting or annual meeting and ask if there are plans to incorporate FFL principles for drought tolerant yards into the ARB guidelines. Once a dispute arises and an HOA attorney becomes involved you and your neighbors will certainly be unhappy when you find your HOA fees being spent on attorneys.