Shirley McFarlane and Annie Ellis were recently named the 2020 Community Water-Wise Award 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 and 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.

I’m pleased to announce the winners for the 2020 Community Water-Wise Award Contest. For unincorporated Hillsborough County, the winner is the landscape of Shirley McFarlane. The City of Tampa winner is Annie Ellis.

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 and plants selected that were appropriate for their site conditions.

Plants with similar water and maintenance needs were grouped together, organic and alternative mulch was used, as well as previous materials for paths, walkways and other areas. Each landscape had gutter downspouts and roof runoff directed onto mulched/planted areas, harvested rainwater and had minimal to no turfgrass. Both thrive mainly on rainfall and were aesthetically pleasing, beautiful and inviting.

We were excited about Shirley and Annie’s commitment to water and environmental conservation, the use of native and non-native adaptive plants and their landscape designs—which were completely different and amazing.

As you can see from the photos, these landscapes are water-wise and fascinating. With 17 entries submitted this year, it was difficult selecting the 2020 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 The deadline for entries is generally June 30 each year, so you can complete an application now, submit it and get a head start on the 2021 contest.

For assistance with horticultural questions, call us at 744-5519. Hillsborough County gardening information is available at View our calendar of events for upcoming educational opportunities and see our Facebook page at Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.

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