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stornwater retention pond with homes and vegetation lining shores

How Do I... Learn Best Practices for My Neighborhood?

The Neighborhood Best Practices educational series serves as a valuable resource for HOAs and residents alike. It facilitates a connection with local resources and aims to address frequently asked questions and common misconceptions related to the responsible management of common area resources. These resources encompass stormwater ponds, preservation areas, trees, landscaping, irrigation, and fertilization. In addition to these key aspects, the series also offers modules dedicated to topics such as managing wildlife interactions in urban environments, fostering community gardens, and maintaining coastal systems.


HOAs have significant responsibilities, yet they often encounter various challenges. These issues are compounded by factors like committee turnovers and communication breakdowns, particularly in the effective and sustainable management of landscaping and stormwater ponds. For example, HOAs may grapple with issues like algal blooms in their stormwater ponds, stemming from fertilizer mismanagement on adjacent turf grass or ornamental areas. Similarly, improper herbicide application may lead to failure of desirable native or ornamental vegetation, or improper pruning techniques could result in substantial tree loss following a storm event. Unfortunately, these scenarios are not uncommon, resulting in unforeseen financial burdens on HOAs.

For both new and existing HOA members who complete the Neighborhood Best Practices program, they gain a more profound understanding of the critical roles of record keeping and effective communication. They also become aware of local resources to address their queries, avoiding the frustrating cycle of determining who can help in seeking solutions.


The free, self-paced course—available online at the short link—consists of nine modules, each addressing essential aspects of community and environmental management in Sarasota County, Florida. Each module was developed by a UF/IFAS Extension program specialist in conjunction with University of Florida personnel and Sarasota County Government staff, where appropriate. Participants can elect to obtain a certification by completing all modules and assessments or chose a non-certification option and chose the module that best meets their needs. Registration for the course is here:

Protecting Our Waters

A view of a neighborhood stormwater pond


Delve into the critical issue of water quality, offering insights and learn how to actively contribute to enhancing community water quality through effective stormwater pond management.


An attractive landscape surrounding a community center


Introduces the concept of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, emphasizing its role in minimizing environmental impacts while creating attractive and functional landscapes. Understanding the importance of this approach is essential for our present and future

Tree Care Management

Woman pruning tree


Provides valuable insights into the significance of proper tree care, highlighting its role in reducing tree stress and preventing damage during storms, along with keys to establishing a well-rounded tree care management routine


A microsprinkler watering plants


Underscores the critical role of irrigation in maintaining healthy landscapes while safeguarding local waters. Learn about efficient irrigation practices, system functionality, and effective communication within a private landscape or irrigation team.


Man spreading fertilizer via wheelbarrow in landscape


Explore the principles of responsible fertilization, a core component of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, with a look at assessing existing soil nutrients, determining the appropriate fertilizer quantities, choosing the right application timing for annual fertilizer amendments, and more.

Preservation Areas

A preserve area adjacent to a community


Sheds light on the protection of native habitat areas and wildlife, focusing on residential developments and their link to Sarasota County efforts and codes to safeguard specific types of native habitats and ensure their preservation for future generations.

Wildlife and Community Interactions

Alligator resting in pond


Offers guidance on coexisting with the diverse and magnificent wildlife in the region looking at balancing human safety with wildlife protection and the preservation of essential ecosystems and habitats.

Shared Spaces

Community garden with


Explores the initiation and management of community gardens and composting projects, offering practical guidance to HOAs interested in implementing such initiatives.

Coastal Systems

Community with ocean view


Provides an overview of the specific regulations aimed at protecting and preserving coastal habitats and their inhabitants, emphasizing the profound connection between Sarasota County residents and the coastal and marine ecosystems.



Lee Hayes Byron
County Extension Director

6700 Clark Road
Sarasota, Fla. 34241

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  8a to 5p, Mon–Fri

Plant Clinic
  In-person: 9a to 3p, Mon–Wed
  Learn more: Plant Clinic web page