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Natural & Native

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Natural & Native

At Neal Land & Neighborhoods, we embrace a profound responsibility to both our homeowners and the areas in which we develop our neighborhoods.

Agriculture has been a staple of Florida even before its established statehood in 1845. Raising livestock and free grazing (livestock without fences) predominated Florida’s early ranch heritage. Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, agriculture and farming shifted to oranges and other citrus and, more recently, tomatoes, strawberries, and other popular raw crops. With the transition from agriculture to community needs, we have an opportunity to bring natural diversity back into the land. We do this with engineers and environmental scientists to work out plans that blend the existing flora into the neighborhood and encourage the growth of nature and the proliferation of beneficial species of grass, trees, and other plants.

In a time when other developments often pave over green spaces, we take great efforts to place our neighborhoods within the trees, not on top or instead of them, connecting the land by integrating within the environment rather than dominating it.

This is evidenced throughout North River Ranch with created, restored, unimpacted, or low-impact natural and native areas.

Stroll or cycle through our vibrant neighborhoods, explore the trails and pathways, enjoy the social energy of the Riverway Village Center, unwind poolside, or simply lose yourself in the expanse of our preserved spaces and twinkling star-studded skies. Savor it all at North River Ranch.

A gravel path running between trees at North River Ranch, Parrish, FL

Natural Surface Paths & Open Areas

With almost 50 percent of open space set aside, North River Ranch (when complete) will have close to 1,200 acres of open areas and lakes. In many other areas, we have created, restored, and maintained a low impact on the natural land.

Step onto one of the many nature trails weaving throughout North River Ranch, and you’ll immediately notice the crunch beneath your feet. It’s no accident. Organic matter, such as the crushed shells and mulch we have employed on the trails here, is a low-impact surface that is good for the body and the environment over hard-surface paving. Natural surface paths and open areas reduce runoff and protect downstream habitats.

Orange outdoor chairs lining the grassy edge of a river at North River Ranch, Parrish, FL

Grasses & Native Cover

Outside of the wetland marsh areas, much of our natural landscape is considered Florida prairie, with grasses, shrubs, slash pines, and palmettos. Serenoa, more commonly known as Saw Palmetto, grows throughout transitional areas of the community, providing a thick undergrowth atop the sandy soil that offers protection and homes for various birds, butterflies, tortoises, and smaller mammals. Three primary native types of grass also call North River Ranch home: Wiregrass (Aristide strict) is by far the most common, with Toothache grass (Ctenium floridanum) and Beak Rush (Rhynchospora inundata) also appearing intermittently. In addition to creating nesting areas for wildlife, grasses reduce erosion during Florida’s often heavy rainy season.

Looking up the trunk of a tall tree - North River Ranch


In addition to being the most visible vegetation at North River Ranch, our trees – while pretty – are also incredibly valuable to the overall environment. Each tree that is saved or planted is specifically planned to include Live Oak, Laurel Oak, and Slash Pines — along with Cypress and a variety of palms — and these trees form protective canopies throughout the community’s natural areas. The shade afforded by these trees offers sanctuary and food for myriad forms of wildlife. Fallen leaves and deadwood slowly decompose and add vital nutrients to the soil. Throughout North River Ranch, we have specifically and judiciously planned for sheltering and protecting the tree-save areas. We make conscious efforts to carefully design the landscape plan for other areas that will, in time, match and mimic the areas changed by years of agriculture and grazing.

A river running through wetlands - North River Ranch Parrish, Fl


Wetlands are the lifeblood of every Florida ecosystem, and North River Ranch is no exception. Our marshes, ponds, and wetlands are abuzz both day and night with native creatures. Serving as nursery areas for birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles – known as “nature’s kidneys” – wetlands act as sponges, retaining excess water from rainfall before purifying and filtering as it passes through to tributary streams and rivers and, ultimately, Florida’s natural groundwater aquifer.

We encourage you to walk the nature trails through our wetlands.If you pause for a moment to look (and listen), you’ll notice a whirlwind of activity.

A heron in the wetlands - North River Ranch, Parrish, FL

Ponds & Littoral Plantings

A littoral shelf is a shallow area close to the shoreline in a water body, ditch, pond, or lake that is planted with native aquatic vegetation. These aquatic plants are helpful additions to our environmental systems at North River Ranch.

Throughout the ponds at North River Ranch, look for aquatic plants such as Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) and Bulrush (Scirpus spp.), Duck Potato (Sagittaria lancifolia) and Blue Flag (Iris virginica). These plantings can often help stabilize the shoreline and reduce erosion. Possibly the greatest benefit is the impressive aesthetic of native Florida flora, with year-round blooming and flowering, ranging from the subtle to the showy.

In addition to being the ideal natural habitat for wading birds, fish, amphibians, and other aquatic invertebrate to forage and find refuge, the purpose of littoral shelf plantings is to help naturally filter out unwanted nutrients in the water before being transmitted downstream.

Aerial image of North River Ranch
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