Get The Dirt With Florida Yard Expert: Community Water Wise Awards Program

Lynn Barber, Hillsborough County Extension

Community Water Wise Awards Program

The 2017 Community Water Wise Awards, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, recognize individuals and businesses committed to conserving our water resources and protecting the environment by using Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) principles. There are nine FFL principles which include: right plant right place, water efficiently, fertilize appropriately, mulch, attract wildlife, manage yard pests responsibly, recycle, reduce stormwater runoff and protect the waterfront. Many of these principles are used as part of the landscape evaluation process for this award program.

The retention of existing trees and vegetation is evaluated, as are landscape design, utilization of mulch and plant selection. Stormwater runoff prevention and efficient irrigation techniques are reviewed, including rain gardens, rainwater harvesting and functioning rain sensor devices. Winning landscapes balance attractive designs with plants, landscape elements and water efficient irrigation techniques that have a positive impact on our environment.

You can view photographs of past winners at http://tampabaywaterwise.org and watch a short video which includes several of them. The deadline for entries is June 30, so you can complete an application now, submit it and get a head start on the 2017 contest. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the application and submit on-line to tampabaywaterwise.org. Attaching a photo or two is helpful. On-site landscape evaluations will be scheduled and conducted in May and early June with homeowners and business owners present. Winning entries will receive a handmade mosaic stepping stone for homeowners or a plaque option for businesses. If you have questions regarding the Community Water Wise Award program, please contact me at 744-5519 x 54105.

For more information about the nine principles of the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Program or for assistance with gardening-related questions, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 744-5519, visit our website at: http://hillsborough.ifas.ufl.edu for upcoming workshops.