Lee County Extension
What is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods (FNP) Program?

2012 FYN Program and Outreach Summary

The natural beauty of Florida's coastal community continues to attract people - lots of people! However, the explosive growth of communities in Florida has taken its toll. Florida's climate is quite different from what most new residents experienced in more temperate areas. Local residents need to recognize this area's unique needs and take new precautions. Otherwise everyday gardening and lawn care activities can result in stormwater runoff - polluted with residential fertilizers and pesticides - getting into adjacent ponds and canals, and then into the estuaries, threatening fish and other sea life.

The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods (FYN) program was developed to address this increasingly serious problem by enlisting homeowners in the effort to save our bays and waterways. The program concept originated in Sarasota because of problems in Tampa Bay. The program is now state-wide and is of special importance to Lee County. There are pollution problems in the county's lakes, canal and coastal water (including the Estero Bay Watershed) resulting from well-intended but improper residential uses of fertilizers and pesticides.

In Lee County, the FYN program is coordinated by the University of Florida/Lee County Cooperative Extension. A Lee County Extension Agent supervises the program with the help of the FYN Yard advisors after receiving extension training in environment landscape management. As a result, Yard Advisors assist homeowners in the certification process. The Yard Advisors also provide instructional programs to neighborhood associations, club and civic organizations.

The FYN program provides information on the best ways to design and maintain yards and gardens. These best methods will provide a quality landscape while reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water supplies and increasing native habitats. The property owners enjoy an attractive, well-kept landscape at reduced cost and reduced effort, while also minimizing pollution and stormwater runoff problems a win-win situation. FYN emphasis is in nine areas: proper plant selection and placement, fertilizing integrated pest management, mulch, water conservation, recycling, attracting wildlife, stormwater runoff and shoreline stabilization. Homeowners, Homeowner Associations and Condominium Associations which follow the FYN recommendations are eligible for recognition as having a "Florida Certified Yard."

To participate in the FYN program, Property owner first attend a 3-hour workshop called "Nine Steps to Designing a Florida Yard," and complete a research questionnaire on current practices. They then receive the FYN Handbook Guide to Environmentally Friendly Landscaping and a copy of the score card ("Florida Yardstick"). The FYN Handbook provides information on the nine areas of emphasis and the Florida Yardstick is the scorecard used by Yard Advisors to grade properties being considered for "Certified Yard" status.

When the owners are ready to be certified they contact the FYN office. A volunteer FYN Yard Advisor will schedule a visit with the homeowner to walk through the property, using Florida "Yardstick." Each beneficial practice is awarded a certain number of "inches." Properties which receive 36 inches or more qualify as a Certified Florida Yard, and receive a Certified Florida Yards, sign recognizing their accomplishment.

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