Does your landscape have what it takes to win? Enter soon to find out.

The Tampa Bay Community Water Wise Awards, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, UF/IFAS Extension and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, were created to recognize individuals and businesses committed to conserving our water resources, protecting the environment by using Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) principles and including an attractive design. 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 awards program.

The University of Florida/Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ teams in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and their county/city water departments evaluate your county’s landscapes using specific criteria, which includes the following and more:

  • Landscape Design and Plant Selection: Organic/plant-based mulch is applied 2-3 inches deep throughout the plant beds. Plants with similar maintenance and water requirements are grouped together, no strips of grass less than 4 feet wide.
  • Stormwater Runoff Prevention: The use of rain collection devices, gutter downspouts and roof runoff is directed onto mulched/planted areas, not bare areas in the lawn/landscape which are subject to erosion.
  • Efficient irrigation: The landscape exists primarily on rainfall or is watered only as needed with an irrigation system.

You can view photographs and watch short videos of past winners at The deadline for entries is Sunday, June 30. Complete your application now, which will take about five to 10 minutes, then submit online at the link above. Attaching a photo or two is helpful. On-site landscape evaluations will be scheduled and conducted in June, July and August with homeowners and business owners. Winning entries will receive a beautiful, handmade mosaic steppingstone for homeowners or a plaque option for businesses. Feedback is provided to all that enter the awards program.

Today is a great time to complete and submit your application. We hope to receive your entry soon. Thanks in advance for participating. If you have questions regarding the Tampa Bay Community Water Wise Awards program and live in Hillsborough County, please contact me. If you live in Pasco or Pinellas County, contact your Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) program coordinator.

For more information about the FFL program, assistance with gardening and irrigation system-related questions, contact UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 813-744-5519 and visit our website at for upcoming workshops.

Contact Lynn Barber at

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