Villagers complain Florida-Friendly Landscaping has turned their neighborhood into jungle

Residents of The Villages say they are fed up and that Florida-Friendly Landscaping has turned their neighborhood into a jungle.

A home at 2167 Darwin Terrace in the Village of Amelia has been a sore point for years. It has been nicknamed the “Haunted House.”

Neighbors say they have called in complaints to Community Standards, however nothing has been done because the homeowner has adopted “Florida-Friendly Landscaping.”

Florida-Friendly Landscaping means using low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Florida-Friendly Landscaping is allowed in The Villages. The water-saving practices associated with Florida-Friendly Landscaping are even encouraged.

The University of Florida Extension Service describes Florida-Friendly Landscaping as a “beautiful landscape that could save you time, energy and money while protecting our future.”

The complaints about the home on Darwin Terrace have been going on for several years. But it’s not the only Florida-Friendly Landscaping headache in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

A home at 2167 Darwin Terrace in The Villages has Florida-Friendly Landscaping.

Earlier this year, 81-year-old Myers Hand was called before the Community Development District 10 Board of Supervisors on a deed compliance case due to complaints about his Florida-Friendly Landscaping. Hand admitted that the Florida-Friendly Landscaping had become more than he could handle in the Florida heat. He also testified in a public hearing before the supervisors that he cannot hire and maintain landscapers who can groom the landscaping to his satisfaction. He vowed to move out of The Villages and sell the Premier home at 3610 Enterprise Drive he bought in 2015 for $671,900. He has yet to make good on that threat.

In 2019, a defiant homeowner in the Village of Piedmont fought to keep her Florida-Friendly Landscaping despite the difficulties she was having with it. Kathleen Stringer appeared before the Community Development District 4 Board of Supervisors in a public hearing where photographs presented as evidence showed a wild entanglement of plants, shrubs and bamboo at her home. Stringer testified that she “married into this situation” and she “didn’t even know about deeds and covenants.” She said her late husband may have signed off on some documents, but she had not been aware of it. Stringer eventually brought the property into compliance and her fines were forgiven.