Melissa Taylor is the winner of the 2018 Community Water Wise Award for unincorporated Hillsborough County.

The Community Water Wise Awards, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, a regional municipal water provider, 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 storm water 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 and plant selection. Storm water runoff prevention techniques and use of efficient irrigation techniques are reviewed. Winning landscapes balance attractive design with plants, landscape elements and water efficient irrigation techniques that have a positive impact on our environment.

For unincorporated Hillsborough County, the winner of the 2018 Community Water Wise Award is Cynthia Glover. The City of Tampa winner is Melissa Taylor.

There are several elements of these landscapes that were positive examples of Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM water wise practices. These include the planting of drought-tolerant trees and plants, self-mulching areas under trees, groundcovers versus turfgrass utilized in all or several areas of the landscapes, plants selected that are appropriate for their site conditions, grouping of plants with similar water and maintenance needs, organic and alternative mulch was applied, pervious materials were used for paths, walkways and other areas. Both thrive mainly on rainfall with minimal irrigation, were aesthetically pleasing, beautiful and inviting.

As you can see from the photos, these landscapes are water wise and fascinating. With a dozen plus entries submitted this year, it was difficult selecting the 2018 Community Water Wise Award Winners. We hope each of you reading this article will consider entering the contest which you can do any time at: http://tampabaywaterwise.org. The deadline for entries is June 30 each year, so you can complete an application now, submit it and get a head start on the 2019 contest.

For assistance with horticultural questions, call 744-5519 or visit at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 CR 579 in Seffner. Visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/ or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HCFFL/. Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.