For the third year in a row, St. Johns Riverkeeper and Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) are teaming up to present the Outstanding River Friendly Yard awards.

Nominations are being accepted until December 21st.  Please submit nominations, contact information with full street address, and “before and after” photos, if possible, to

Outstanding River Friendly Yard Award Criteria

River Friendly Yard Award recipients will meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Homeowner uses fertilizer and chemicals sparingly or not at all, waters only as needed, and is tolerant of some weeds and pests.
  • Landscaped area is maintained and attractive (does not contain excessive or overgrown weeds).
  • Landscaped area utilizes drought-tolerant, low-maintenance plant material and groundcover, preferably including 50% or more native plants.
  • Yard does not include invasive plants.
  • If home has an in-ground irrigation system, it is designed to be as efficient as possible, by utilizing water efficient components and strategies (e.g. drip or micro irrigation, soil moisture sensors, rain barrels) based on the type of plants and their individual needs.
  • Homeowner frequently inspects, repairs, and calibrates the system and adjusts timer in accordance to changing weather patterns.
  • Landscaping and maintenance practices are consistent with University of Florida’s Florida Yards and Neighborhoods principles (see below).

Take the River Friendly Pledge and learn more about how to be River Friendly by clicking here.

Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Principles

  • Right Plant, Right Place – The plant selection matches the yard’s soil, light, water, and climatic conditions to create a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance yard.
  • Water Efficiently – Follows local irrigation ordinance and only waters as needed. Uses mulch and mows properly to increase plant health and drought tolerance.
  • Fertilize Appropriately – Sparingly uses slow-release fertilizers with little or no phosphorous, and only as needed to minimize runoff into the river or leaching into the groundwater.
  • Mulch – Uses mulch to retain moisture, slow runoff, and control weeds. Does not use cypress mulch. The harvesting of cypress for mulch destroys living trees and important habitat for wildlife.
  • Attract Wildlife – Uses native plants to provide valuable habitat for wildlife.
  • Manage Yard Pests Responsibly – Uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to spot-treat and minimize the use of toxic chemicals.
  • Recycle Yard Waste – Leaves clippings on lawn and composts.
  • Reduce Stormwater Runoff – Uses berms or swales, when feasible. Downspouts are pointed toward yard/garden and away from driveways and sidewalks. Permeable materials are used when possible for walkways, paths, etc.
  • Protect the Waterfront – Maintains a 10’ buffer adjacent to any waterway where chemicals and fertilizers are not used to minimize runoff. Is careful to keep chemicals and fertilizers away from impervious surfaces (roads, driveways, sidewalks) to avoid entering storm drains. Storm drains eventually lead to the river, meaning we all essentially live on waterfront property.