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How to Kill Lawn Grass The Be Floridian Way

Not looking forward to another summer of mowing, weeding and watering your lawn? Be a True Floridian and "cut" the grass, literally! This simple, no-chemical method using newspapers is a great way to remove a section of high-maintenance lawn so you can replace it with easy-care, water-conserving groundcovers or Florida-friendly shrubs and flowers:  

  • Start by mowing the grass you want to kill as short as you can. This allows the newspaper to lay flat on your grass. 
  • Wet the area and begin placing layers of newspaper (about 8-10 sheets) over the grass, overlapping in different directions as you go. Wetting the grass first helps the newspaper to "stick" to it. Wetting the newspapers once you have laid them down is also recommended to keep them in place and hasten decomposition.                         
  • Apply a layer of your own compost, or  commercially available cow or chicken manure, or mushroom compost to the area. This step is not necessary but will enrich your soil so that your new plants will get a healthy start.                     

  • Add a 4-inch layer of mulch: Pine bark, pine straw and eucalyptus mulch are great; no cypress mulch, please! Without sunlight to penetrate below the layers, the grass will eventually wither and die. This will usually take 2-6 weeks.   

  • When a test dig confirms that your grass is dead, plant your new plants right through the mulch and compost.Water them regularly for a few weeks until they are established. Then settle into a porch rocker or chaise lounge and enjoy your new Florida-Friendly landscape!  

To learn the 9 principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping, click here

 meet our partners header
matt esker

Mathew Esker

Florida Organic Lawn

Mathew Esker, owner of Florida Organic Lawn, practices the principles of responsible lawn maintenance by using only natural and organic composts and teas to correct lawn deficiencies.
Matt is a Florida native whose awareness of the direct link between what we put on our yards and the  condition of our waterways led him to promote and passionately advocate for an all-organic approach to lawn care. .
Matt is certified in the state's Best Management Practices for the Green Industries and a Licensed Commercial Fertilizer Applicator. His motto is "Protecting the Environment, One Yard At A Time."  
We are pleased to have Matt and Florida Organic Lawn as our newest Be Floridian business partner. Check out Matt's website and then watch the short video to the right for tips from Matt on using organic composts to help keep your grass healthy over the summer. 
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Classes and workshops offer free or low-cost instruction on how to save time and money by practicing Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles. Check out your county extension service to get started or to learn advanced skills.






Be Floridian
Univ. of Florida/Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ 



Floridata Plant Profiles



 Tampa Bay Estuary Program



Sarasota Bay Estuary Program



Lawn Reform Coalition



Florida Native Plant Society



Florida Yards




shady groundcover bed

 Share Your Pride

(And Your Yard Makeover Photos)


Send us a photo of your Florida-Friendly Yard and we may feature it in the "Local Yard Photo Gallery"  section of our Be Floridian website. We'll also send 5 lucky winners chosen at random a FREE pink flamingo key ring as a thank you!  


One of the most frequent requests we get is for examples of attractive, Florida-Friendly Yards. Homeowners considering making their yards more "Floridian" are looking for ideas from others who already have launched or completed their yard makeovers.  


You can share your pride in your Florida Yard, and give others some inspiration, by allowing us to post a photo of your landscape on our website. We won't post your name or address, so your privacy is safe.


Photos should be sent as .jpg attachments under 1 MB in size to [email protected]

June/July 2012
Be Floridian This Summer


Skip the Nitrogen on Your Lawn:
 Pump Some Iron Instead


Now that summer has officially arrived, it's time to skip the fertilizer to protect the beaches, bays and rivers that are our major source of FUN!


Local ordinances in Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, and the city of Tampa, ban use of fertilizer containing nitrogen from June through September. That's because our summer rains don't water fertilizer in -- they wash it away, right into our waterways where it can cause algae blooms and fish kills.  


But doing without nitrogen doesn't mean your grass will turn brown, shrivel up and die!


Garden centers throughout the area offer a variety of "summer-safe" yard products that will help you keep your landscape green and growing throughout our long, hot summer, without turning our waters green with algae.Here's how: 
  • Look for products with a zero as the first two numbers on the bag, such as 0-0-10 or 0-0-16. These products contain only potassium, which can help your yard withstand the stress of a Florida summer.
  • An application of iron is another great summer choice for lawns. Iron will keep your grass green without encouraging excess growth, meaning you won't need to mow as often.Less mowing = mo' fun!
  • Mix in composted cow or chicken manure, or your own home compost, to amend your soil. It's like giving vitamins to your yards.                                                                     
  • Mow high! Scalping your grass by mowing it too short is a major no-no. Longer grass blades soak up more sun for photosynthesis, more water to tide them through droughts, and develop stronger roots. St. Augustine grass should never be mowed lower than 3.5 or 4 inches.
  • Replace a section of your lawn with plants adapted to Florida's hot, humid climate and plant them in the right place according to their sun and water needs. Remember to water them in well until they get a toehold in their new home. After that, they'll need less water, fertilizer and chemicals year-round.    

Do one or more of these, and you're entitled to a free day off from yard work -- on us! Redeem your coupon below:


free day off yard work coupon 


Learning to Be Floridian Video Series
Skip the Fertilizer - Go Organic This Summer
Skip the Fertilizer - Go Organic This Summer
The summer rainy season is here and that means we all need to skip the fertilizer to prevent water pollution. Check out this short video for tips on using natural compost and compost teas as alternatives to fertilizing your lawn.
Plants for True Floridians
Florida Native

(Gaillardia pulchella)


This two-toned beauty will brighten up anyone's landscape! Also called Indian Blanket, these brilliant daisy-like flowers have large centers and frilly petals of orange, yellow or crimson. Blanketflowers can grow 14 to 21-inches high, like hot, sunny areas and are drought-tolerant. These low-maintenance wildlflowers are perfect for borders and beds, and low-growing varieties make beautiful ground cover or potted plants.To learn more about Blanketflower, click here.


Florida Friendly/Non-Native

 Cast-Iron Plant
(Aspidistra elatior)

castiron plant
Tough as nails, the cast-iron plant is an excellent low-maintenance ground cover in dry shady places where they are even able to compete with tree roots and still look beautiful. Cast iron plant has wide, lance-shaped leaves that are dark green and leathery, and around 12-20 inches long. It's often grown in a container as a porch or patio plant, or as a house plant. In landscapes, it can be used as a border or as an accent around trees. To learn more about cast-iron plant, click here
Recipes for Relaxing

Less fertilizing, mowing and weeding means more time to kick back and sip Sangria in your Florida-friendly yard.
Photo by Sylvia@Intrigue
Berry Ros� Sangria
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup cr�me de cassis
    1 1/2 cups assorted berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
    1 (750-ml) bottle chilled dry ros� wine
    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Put berries into a heatproof pitcher. Bring sugar, water, and cr�me de cassis just to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour syrup into heatproof pitcher and let stand 5 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice and stir mixture well. Chill, covered, until ready to serve. Serve over ice and toast life as a True Floridian!

water-wise landscape
Is Your Florida-Friendly Yard a Winner?

Do you have a low-maintenance water-conserving yard or landscape that makes you proud? For more than 10 years, the Community Water-Wise Awards have recognized homeowners and businesses who use the best in water-efficient landscape design and maintenance.  If your landscape demonstrates the beauty and resiliency of Florida-friendly principles and uses irrigation systems or techniques that minimize water waste, you could be a winner! 

The Community Water-Wise Awards are sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, University of Florida IFAS and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program. Residential landscapes in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, and the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa are eligible. To see winners from previous years, learn more about criteria and find an online application, please go to TampaBayWaterWise.org

 Hurry, deadline is June 30!
kalika with flamingo flock in st. pete
Meet Our Flamingo Wrangler

The Be Floridian flamingo flock has been so busy with droppings, oops, we mean drop-ins, this spring that we had to  hire a part-time Flamingo Wrangler to escort the flock on its 3-county PR tour.

Joining the pink brigade to help spread our message to "Fertilize Like A Floridian" is Kalika, pictured above with some of her charges. Kalika is a graduate of Pinellas County Extension's Sustainable Floridians Program. She and the flamingos have made appearances and distributed our educational materials at a Tampa Bay Rays game, various local farmer's markets, and several area Lowe's stores, among other venues. As her time as Flamingo Wrangler comes to a close, we salute her with a big "Wings Up" for a job exceedingly well done!
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What's Be Floridian?


Be Floridian is an educational campaign sponsored by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. Our partners include Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas,  and Sarasota counties; the cities of  Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa; and a variety of landscape designers, gardening coaches, fertilizer companies and lawn care specialists.  We are calling on all Sunshine Staters to help protect what makes Florida so fun -- our bays, lakes, rivers and the Gulf of Mexico -- by skipping the fertilizer in the summer to prevent water pollution.