Design Philosophy

In accordance with FDOT policy, the FTE Landscape Program focuses on achieving beautification within the context of conservation, preservation, and development of environmentally sustainable landscapes. FTE’s landscape design philosophy incorporates landscape and conservation values. Our focus as a program has shifted away from the “bold vision” design approach characterized by designing beautification projects using many large signature palms and few, if any, shrubs and returned to its historical roots of developing sustainable native landscapes. The FTE landscape program limits high-intensity landscapes to landmark destinations and focuses on healing native landscapes and developing opportunities to incorporate ecosystem services enhancing and conserving Florida’s natural environment.

While important, aesthetics is only part of the complex equation for producing responsible landscapes within the FTE highway system. Turnpike landscapes must also be called upon to modulate traffic behavior, stabilize steep erodible embankments, screen or emphasize views, provide environmental services, mitigate the effects of pavement and other man-made structures on the environment and minimize maintenance needs. Therefore, in keeping with the mandate issued by Department Policy Topic No. 000-650-011c, “Highway Beautification” future landscapes will provide a balance of high-intensity landscapes and native or naturalistic plantings.

Landscape Intensity

Each project shall implement landscape hierarchies of low and high intensities, prioritized by level of visual impact and required maintenance. Each project shall develop a landscape hierarchy based on the level of importance and required maintenance. These levels are identified as Low Intensity and High Intensity. These intensity levels relate to both their aesthetic impact and their level of required life-cycle maintenance.

MBE- Brochure Cover

Low Intensity

Low-intensity areas are intended to be native or naturalistic plantings utilized for screening a view, ecosystem restoration, or as a backdrop to specimen landscapes. These low-intensity areas will accordingly require less long-term maintenance.

REFORESTATION AND SLOPE STABILIZATION: Plantings of pines and cabbage palms with native understory plants to reduce maintenance, mowing operations, and erosion on steep slopes.

REFORESTATION AND LANDSCAPE BUFFER: Plantings of pines, cabbage palms, and oaks, with native understory plants to buffer adjacent neighborhoods.

High Intensity

High-intensity landscape areas, located in the most visible areas are designed for maximum aesthetic impact and may require a higher level of long-term maintenance.

FOCAL POINTS AND GATEWAYS: Signature palms with staggered heights and flowering understory to accent gantry sign and enhance the sense of arrival.

Plant Diversity Goals

In order to preserve and implement environmentally sustainable landscapes, FTE encourages plant diversity-supporting the creation of wildlife habitat, water quality, and ecosystem restoration.

Earth Day In the hands of trees growing seedlings. Bokeh green Background Female hand holding tree on nature field grass Forest conservation concept

Ecosystem Services

The FTE Landscape Program encourages the integration of Ecosystem Services, such as pollinator habitat, transitional native plantings, meadow conditions, and wildflowers into landscape designs.

Pollinator Habitats

Transitional Native Plantings

Meadow Conditions



As FTE’s available right of way becomes more constrained, the landscape program supports the use of hardscape beatification on roadway structural elements such as bridge columns, support elements, retaining walls, noise abatement walls and stand-alone hardscape structures.

Shrub Utilization

FTE supports the incorporation of shrubs into roadway landscape designs when necessary on a limited basis.

Additional Design Considerations

Turnpike landscapes must also mitigate the effects of pavement and other man-made structures on the environment and minimize maintenance needs.