Sustainable Landscaping in Florida

Project: Storm-Ready Design, Episode 11, Part 1

Bob is in Punta Gorda to learn about sustainable landscaping from Angela Polo of the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. Polo is joined by Brian Kendzior who explains the overall landscape design, the need for screening and privacy, and the move to get large landscaping away from homes that might be damaged from hurricane-force winds. Kendzior talks about plant maintenance and water use, showing Bob the Toro low-flow irrigation system that will water the plants through eight separate zones. Lawn Logic complements the irrigation system with a soil moisture monitoring system that will override the irrigation timer for each individual zone when in-ground sensors detect moisture above pre-set levels. This water-saving strategy is complemented by the selection of natural plants that thrive in the sandy, low-moisture soil of Florida. Polo and Micklow show Bob the plantings, beds, and wildlife gardens that are created to protect the waterway from pesticide and fertilizer runoff and transition the yard from controlled turf areas to native growth sections. Craig Harmer from Gardens Alive brings plant-specific natural plant foods, soil enhancers, and pesticides for the raised vegetable garden. PestAgon installs the Sentricon low-impact termite control system around the perimeter of the house.
Part 1: Sustainable Landscaping in Florida
Angela Polo from the University of Florida's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program is on hand to show how the Punta Gorda yard exemplifies the nine principles of their program: right plant, right place, efficient watering, recycling, protecting the waterfront, reducing stormwater runoff, attracting wildlife, managing fertilizers, and managing pests. Bob and Angela discuss the soil in Punta Gorda, which is typical of new Florida construction and is sandy with no percolation or drainage. Bob talks about the native palm of Florida, the Sabal Palm or Cabbage Palm as it is commonly called, as an example of selecting the right plant for the right place. Brian Kendzior from Sun Scape Landscaping explains the landscape design for this large corner lot with screening for privacy, minimized functional lawn areas, and large beds. Kendzior talks with Bob about addressing hurricane issues and landscaping so that the home and surrounding areas are protected from damaged landscaping and wind-borne plant debris. He explains how landscapers have reduced the size of plantings near the house and moved to sturdy, native plants to reduce hurricane damage. Kendzior also talks about plant selection and maintenance. Sustainable planting tends toward native plants that require low maintenance and thrive in natural conditions. To that end, the irrigation system provided by Toro uses a pressure compensating watering system that uses weep holes to water perimeter plants. Polo also adds that raised beds will be installed by the canal, preventing turf from going right to the edge of the bulkhead. This reduces the chance of runoff from fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides into the waterway.
Part 2: Sustainable Planting for Florida Landscape
Part 3: Natural Fertilizers and Non-Toxic Pesticides
When hurricanes strike again and again, as they did in Florida in 2004, the effects are devastating. Bob Vila and crew work to completely rebuild a damaged house, using new standards for storm-ready housing. Along the way, Bob investigates a home's vulnerabilities in extreme weather and learns why some building systems fail and others succeed.

Also from Storm-Ready Design

  • Episode 1 - Rebuilding to Beat a Hurricane


    Bob is in hurricane battered Punta Gorda, Florida, to build a storm-ready home in Season 1 of Bob Vila. Bob visits two homes in the same neighborhood, one that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Charley in August 2004, the other that was built to exceed hurricane codes and was left unscathed by hurricane winds and water from the same storm. Scott Buescher of Mercedes Homes shows how enhanced building practices and technologies can create a storm-resistant home, while Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and Secretary of Community Affairs Thaddeus Cohen discuss rebuilding Florida. Building inspector Randy Cole and Mercedes Homes’ Jesse Gonzalez review the site and watch the pour of a three-stage steam wall that sits below grade and ties the slab foundation to the ground. The resulting foundation will resist water penetration from storm surge by allowing water to move around the foundation without encountering entry points. Bob reviews the house plans with Scott Buescher of Mercedes Homes and learns how the house is constructed as an integrated system. Building connections are emphasized and reinforced rebar and steel mesh are extended from the stem wall to the roof line in preparation for the solid concrete pour that will form the exterior walls.
  • Episode 2 - Building a Reinforced Concrete House


    Bob recaps construction of the stem-wall foundation and integral concrete slab, the vertical steel reinforcing, steel mesh, window bucks, headers, and spacers put in place for the cast-in-place concrete walls. Cameron Parker and the crew of Solid Wall Systems spray the aluminum wall forms with an organic oil spray to prevent adhesion from the concrete and set the forms for the pour. Bob joins Wayne Sallade, Charlotte County Emergency Manager, to review cleanup, demolition, and repair one year after Hurricane Charley. sallade explains that housing built in the 1960s through the 1980s, before the Florida Unified Building Code, had stick framing, gable roofs, and siding. "It didn't stand a chance," he says. Looking at surviving 1920s Florida architecture, it's clear that unified construction, concrete walls, protected windows, and hip roofsare the way to design wind-resistant homes. Back on site, bob watches the pour, learns how the walls and window openings will be vibrated to eliminate voids, and sees the bracing set to hold the walls square before leaving the site to let it cure overnight. Once the forms are removed, Jesse Gonzalez explains how a traditional three-coat Florida plaster job will complete the exterior once the structure has cured for two weeks.
  • Episode 3 - Building a Storm-Ready Roof


    This episode of Bob Vila will focus on roofs, how they are built and tied down to keep structures safe. Leslie Chapman-Henderson from FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Housing, explains how FLASH brings information about safe housing technologies and practices to homes across America, to protect them against floods, winds, hail, and wildfires. Chapman-Henderson explains how a connected house works as a system to beat back the pushing and pulling forces of wind. Randy Shackelford of Simpson Strong-Tie shows Bob the embedded truss anchors that will tie down each truss member of the roof framing, as well as retrofit tie-downs and heavy connectors designed to fight wind uplift forces. Jesse Gonzalez walks Bob through the steel-framed interior that has a master suite and bath, and lots of open space. Bart Cox of Hanson Roof Tiles brings factory-extruded cement clay-look tiles that are pre-drilled for mechanical installation. Dave Peck of D. Peck Roofing explains that stiffer 5/8-inch plywood sheathing, 30 pound felt that is nailed, hot mopped with asphalt, and covered with 90 pound felt makes a strong, water-resistant roof deck for the tiles. Metal nailer boards keep cap tiles in place when wind strikes.
  • Episode 4 - Impact-Resistant Windows for a Storm-Ready Home

  • Episode 5 - Storm-Ready Doors, Fiberglass Wallboard, and Power Backup

  • Episode 6 - Faux Columns and a Gunite Pool

  • Episode 7 - Storm-Ready Stucco Paint, Foyer Tile, and Textured Finishes

  • Episode 8 - Concrete Color Staining, Soffits, and Energy Efficiency

  • Episode 9 - Kitchen Finishes for the Storm-Ready House

  • Episode 10 - Pool Deck, Toto Washlet, and Wind-Proof Garage Door

  • Episode 12 - Hurricane-Safe Pool Structures, Pool Mechanicals, and Safety

  • Episode 13 - Surge Protection, Plumbing, Bamboo Blinds and Garden

  • Episode 14 - Completing the Punta Gorda Storm-Ready House



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