Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards – ENTER TODAY!

Could you have the next winner?


Tampa Bay Community Water Wise Awards logo with water droplet


The annual Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards Program is on the lookout for landscapes that showcase the best in “water-wise” design and maintenance. This annual contest is open to residents, businesses, & organizations from across the tri-county Tampa Bay region.*

*(includes Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough).

  • FACT – Despite FL receiving a lot of seasonal rain and being surrounded by water, fresh water is actually a limited resource in FL!


  • MYTH – Beautiful landscapes require lots of irrigation, fertilizer, & pesticides.


  • FACT – Right here in Pasco County, and across the Tampa Bay region, people are creating unique, vibrant, water-efficient landscapes!


The Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards Program was created to highlight & recognize those landscapes!


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


  • Plant selection“Right plant, right place” – When plants are well-matched to your site conditions, they require less supplemental watering & fertilizer to thrive. Plus, when plants are less stressed, they’re less susceptible to pests & diseases, meaning you’re using less pesticides and replacing less plants. That conserves water & protects our environment!


  • Efficient watering – Whether you use “smart” irrigation technology, targeted hand-watering, or mostly rely on “Mother Nature” to do the watering, you only put water where it’s needed, when it’s needed. That saves water & minimizes the leaching of nutrients.


  • Attractive design – The landscape has great “curb appeal,” fits your community’s aesthetics, while still being a water-efficient all-star!


  • Minimizes runoff – Mulch, rainwater harvesting, groundcovers, permeable pathways, etc. – These type of features help to reduce stormwater flows & keep nutrients out of our waters!


  • Avoids invasive plants – Invasive plants cause major environmental and economic damage, and can be especially problematic around wetlands and water bodies. You just say “NO” to invasives!

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


(Got questions? Learn more about the benefits of being “water-wise” HERE.)


Entering is free, and only takes a few minutes. Visit: https://awards.tampabaywaterwise.org/Enter-Your-Landscape to fill out the brief online entry form and submit a few photos. That’s it! If your landscape is selected for the judging round, you’ll be contacted by a member of your local Florida-Friendly Landscaping team to schedule a visit.

The deadline is approaching! Applications for the current year’s competition will only be accepted until midnight, JUNE 30.

Think you could have a winner? Apply today!

Or perhaps you know someone else who deserves some recognition for their hard work? Give them a reason to smile & let them know their landscape has been noticed! Share the link & encourage them to enter!


(NOTE: Sharing is easy! At the top of this blog post are a couple of social “share” buttons. It’s super-simple to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or via email! Feel free to copy the link & share on your local neighborhood Nextdoor app too!)

What if you win?

Winners will receive recognition by their local elected officials, a custom hand-made mosaic landscape stepping stone award, & the opportunity to spread the word about why being “water-wise” is the way to go!

Screenshot - Water-Wise Awards 2020 video

If you’re helping to create a more vibrant, Florida-Friendly community, let’s see what you’ve got! Your landscape can help show that conserving water & protecting the environment can look REALLY good!

For proof, check out just a few photo highlights from the 2020 winning landscapes!

A large tiger swallowtail butterfly feeds on firebush flowers Native hibiscus flower with butterfly alongside lake butterfly resting on flowering groundcover beautiful flowering butterfly garden with lake view in the background Large tree provides shade over a beautiful front yard flowering native groundcovers Sign saying "native plants bring life to this landscape" Unique flowers of native Stokes aster Landscape at the welcome center of Heartwood Preserve

A huge congratulations & thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Jackson (Water-Wise 2020 residential category winner) and Heartwood Preserve Conservation Cemetery (Water-Wise 2020 non-residential category winner), for sharing their beautiful landscapes with us!



Is your landscape still a work-in-progress?

Maybe you’re not quite ready to enter this year… That’s ok too! We look forward to seeing your landscape whenever it’s ready. In the meantime, remember that water-wise landscaping always starts with “right plant, right place” – i.e. matching your plants with your natural site conditions, and grouping plants with similar water-needs together. Below are some resources to help you create your ideal water-wise landscape:




Saint Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) Waterwise Guide – This is a very user-friendly, searchable online plant selection guide. It includes both native & non-invasive “Florida-Friendly” options. LINK: http://publicserver2.sjrwmd.com/waterwise/search.jsp This guide allows you to select plant type (i.e. groundcover, flower, ferns, trees, vines, etc.), soil conditions, salt tolerance, plant height, growth characteristics, flower color, etc. It includes photos for many plants. (Bonus – If you want to search for a plant by name, it includes a helpful “sounds-like” option, perfect for when you don’t know the exact spelling of a plant’s name!)



Florida Native Plant Society – This is a searchable plant selection guide specifically for Florida native plants. LINK: http://www.fnps.org/plants This guide allows you to search for specific plants, or to choose your range/county, select site characteristics, salt tolerance, etc. Recently updated with improved navigation & new photos!



Florida-Friendly Landscaping Plant Selection Guide – Last, but not least… the online version of the FFL Plant Selection Guide has recently been updated too! Browse the entire list, or search for plants using a variety of filters. It includes native & non-invasive “Florida-Friendly” options: LINK: https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ (Also available as a FREE mobile app!)





UF/IFAS Extension Baker County – Rain Barrel DIY Guide


The UF/IFAS “Gardening Solutions” Rain Barrel page


If you’d prefer to have a printed copy of “Rain Barrels: A Homeowner’s Guide,” it’s available (for free) from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.


COMPOST, MULCH, … & more!


Composting 101

Mulch 101

Less Water, Better Landscape


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 bring UF to you.

Pollinator / good bug research plot on a golf course

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


About Tampa Bay Water: The six member governments of Tampa Bay Water work together to supply drinking water to more than 2.5 million people throughout the Tampa Bay Region. Learn more about Tampa Bay Water at https://www.tampabaywater.org/

Did you know? There are water-saving, cost-saving rebates available through the Tampa Bay Water-Wise incentive program. Find out if you’re eligible here: https://tampabaywaterwise.org/


By Frank Galdo

About the Author

The author on a hike

As one of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) Program Coordinators in Pasco County, I enjoy helping people create & maintain vibrant landscapes that DON’T require a lot of water, fertilizer, and pesticides to look their best. Through an innovative collaboration with Pasco County Utilities, I also provide targeted on-site troubleshooting outreach to help those individuals and communities identified as high water users. My motto is – Less guesswork, better landscapes.” I can be reached at fgaldo@ufl.edu


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

Have a question, or an idea for a future post? Let me know at fgaldo@ufl.edu or leave a comment below.

UF/IFAS Extension Is An Equal Opportunity Institution.


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Posted: June 11, 2021

Category: Conservation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Natural Resources, Water
Tags: #SaveWaterFL, Award, Efficient Irrigation, Environment, Florida Friendly Landscaping, Landscape, Landscaping, Plant Selection, Resilient Landscaping, Right Place, Right Plant, Water Conservation, Water-wise

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