Karen Taylor's landscape was one of the 2019 Community Water Wise Award Contest winners.

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 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 and plant selection. Stormwater 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.

The winners for the 2019 Community Water Wise Award Contest are: Unincorporated Hillsborough County, the landscape of Maryanne and Joe Velez and the Tampa winners are Karen Taylor and Ingo Fochler.

There are several elements of these landscapes that are positive examples of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ 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.

Each landscape had gutter downspouts and roof runoff directed onto mulched/planted areas. One landscape contained six rain barrels which were used to water landscape plants. Both thrive mainly on rainfall with minimal irrigation, were aesthetically pleasing, beautiful and inviting.

You can enter the contest any time at http://tampabaywaterwise.org. Get a head start on 2020. The deadline for entries is June 30 each year.

For information, call 744-5519 or visit UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, located at 5339 CR 579 in Seffner. You may also want to view on at www.facebook.com/HCFFL/. Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.