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Monarda punctata flowers

Let’s See Your Landscape!

We want to see your landscape!

Bee on flower

At UF/IFAS Extension, we spend a lot of time looking at landscapes in distress. Pests, disease diagnosis, water issues, mucky ponds, invasive plants, etc.

Don’t get me wrong… it’s our specialty, and we love being your go-to resource for helping solve those issues. (That’s why we’re here. To bring the knowledge of UF to YOU!)

But from time to time, we like to help seek out & highlight those landscapes that are getting it right. Right plant, right place. Efficient watering. Supporting wildlife. Minimizing runoff… “Why?” you ask…

Well, “a picture is worth a thousand words…”

Tiny Cassius blue butterfly perched on the tip of a leaf

The best way to prove that a great landscape doesn’t require a ton of pesticides, fertilizers, and water is to SHOW it! So, let’s SEE what you’ve got!

 

That’s what the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards Program is all about… We’re currently on the lookout for great landscapes. So if you live in the tri-county Tampa Bay region* and you’ve got a great-looking, environmentally-friendly landscape, head over to https://awards.tampabaywaterwise.org/ to enter your landscape!  *(includes Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough)

Tampa Bay Community Water Wise Awards logo with water droplet

 

What are some features that could help make your landscape the next “water-wise” winner?

 

  • Plant selection“Right plant, right place” – By matching plants to their preferred site conditions, you’ve reduced the need for excessive watering, fertilizer, pruning, & pest management.

With mature oaks providing dense shade, this landscape has replaced turf with dwarf asiatic jasmine and other shade-loving plants.

  • Efficient irrigation – You minimize water waste and shudder at the thought of zombie sprinklers running in the rain…

SMS too wet

  • Attractive design – Your landscape isn’t just water-efficient, it also has great “curb appeal” and/or fits your community aesthetics (while still being a water-efficient all-star!)

Vibrant yard with healthy turf and cheerful flowers

  • Minimizes runoff – You know that runoff and leaching can carry nutrients into nearby bodies of water, causing nasty algae blooms… so you minimize the runoff from your landscape. 

  • Captures / uses rainwater in the landscape – Don’t let that rain get away!

Rain barrel

  • Avoids invasive plants – You know that invasive plants cause major environmental & economic damage here in FL, especially around wetlands & water bodies… so you just say “NO!” to invasive plants.

Invasive air potato - wanted poster

In other words… if you’re helping to prove that a vibrant, attractive landscape DOESN’T require a lot of sprinklers, fertilizer, & pesticides – show us what you’ve got, and YOU could be the next winner!

(Note: Your landscape doesn’t need to have all the elements listed above. Those are just a few examples of the many ways that landscapes can be water-wise. Every landscape is as unique as the gardener who creates it, and we want to see what you’ve created!)

Learn some of the benefits of being “water-wise” HERE.

 

HOW TO ENTER:

Entering is totally free, and only takes a few minutes. Potential applicants should visit https://awards.tampabaywaterwise.org/Enter-Your-Landscape to fill out the brief online entry form and submit a few pics. It’s that easy!

Applications for the current year’s competition will only be accepted until midnight, AUGUST 31, 2020!

Think you could have a winner? Apply today!

Or perhaps someone else in your neighborhood has a landscape you admire? Let them know their hard work has been noticed! Share the link & encourage them to enter!

(At the top of this blog post are a couple of social “share” buttons, so you can easily share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or email! Feel free to copy the link & share on your local neighborhood Nextdoor app too!)

What happens if you win?

Winners will receive recognition by local elected officials, a custom-made landscape stepping stone award, and neighborhood bragging rights too!

Water Wise Award Garden Stone

Example of a previous year’s award stone. Each year is a special new design, so they’re never the same twice.

Entering is a great opportunity to showcase the unique ways you’re helping to create a more vibrant, Florida-Friendly community. And most of all, it helps show your community that conserving water and protecting the environment can look REALLY good!

 

Tiny blooms wrap around the stem of beautyberry. Firebush flower and bee Monarda punctata - spotted bee balm Large glossy leaves of marlberry Feathery tufts adorn Muhly grass in fall Tiny blooms and dense foliage of Walter's viburnum Low-growing cluster of palm fronds around the base of a live oak Native bee visiting a blanketflower

Why should you enter?

You can probably think of a landscape where the sprinklers seem to constantly be running. Would you believe that some landscapes regularly use 20,000 gallons in a month? 30,000? 40,000… even in the rainy season? Ultimately, that homeowner probably wants the same thing you want – a beautiful landscape they can be proud of…   But what do they actually get for all that water?

 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably know what I’m about to say… Instead of creating a lush, green landscape, more watering often brings more problems (i.e. runoff & leaching of nutrients, algae blooms, fungus, weeds, high water bills, etc.).

Algae scum floating in pond.

Ugh… gross.

Often, those excessive sprinklers (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) are trying to over-compensate for larger underlying issues – for instance, when plants are chronically stressed & struggling because of – wrong plant / wrong place, poor sprinkler coverage, nutrient deficiencies, nematodes, etc. Or, maybe the sprinklers are just running on “autopilot,” even during the rainy season…

 

By entering the Water-Wise Awards, you can show that there’s a better way to achieve a beautiful, functional, resilient landscape… because you’re doing it RIGHT.

NOTE: If you know someone who thinks “water-wise landscaping” is just a bunch of gravel and cacti… take a look at some of the previous Water-Wise Award winners – or – check out some of these previous posts to learn why “right plant, right place” is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping motto!

 


About UF/IFAS Extension: UF/IFAS Extension serves as a source of non-biased, research-based information for the residents, businesses, and communities of Florida, providing educational materials and programs for adults and youth. We proudly “provide solutions for your life.”

 

(Not in Pasco County? Not a problem! Click here to find your local UF/IFAS Extension office!)

 

About Tampa Bay Water: Tampa Bay Water supplies wholesale drinking water to more than 2.5 million people throughout the Tampa Bay Region. Learn more at https://www.tampabaywater.org/

 


About the Author: As the Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) Program Coordinator in Pasco County, Frank works with the residents, homebuilders, and businesses of Pasco to help create attractive landscapes that DON’T require a lot of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Through an innovative collaboration with Pasco County Utilities, the Pasco County FFL Program also provides on-site troubleshooting assistance to individuals and communities identified as high water users. His motto is – Less guesswork, better landscapes.” Frank can be reached at fgaldo@ufl.edu

Vibrant flowers selected for drought tolerance

Thirsty for more FFL knowledge? Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Have an idea for a future post? Let me know at fgaldo@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS Extension Is An Equal Opportunity Institution.

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