It’s that time of year again, when Tampa Bay Water sponsors the annual Community Water-Wise Award Program for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
This award program recognizes individuals, businesses and nonprofits committed to conserving water resources and protecting the environment by using Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles. Winning landscapes balance attractive design with plants, landscape elements and water efficient irrigation techniques that have a positive impact on our environment.
Your yard might have what it takes to win! The winners receive a handmade mosaic stepping stone for their garden that is presented at a local governmental meeting. We have one on display in lobby at the Extension office if you’d like to see what it looks like. Pasco and Pinellas counties also have one on display in their offices.
It’s easy to enter. Just go to www.tampabaywaterwise.org to complete the application form. Judges look for the use of water-thrifty microirrigation as well as properly operated and maintained sprinkler systems. Points are awarded for the use of appropriately located plants and efforts to retain or restore natural areas for wildlife habitat. Award-winning landscapes are free of invasive species such as Brazilian pepper, melaleuca and Chinese tallow. Award criteria also evaluate landscape elements that could minimize fertilizer and pesticide use.
This program/contest ends on June 30, so be sure to complete and submit your application before that date. Adding a photograph or two to your application most certainly helps us preview your landscape. If you have questions, contact Jim Moll, UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County, at (352) 518-0470; Brian Niemann, UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County, at (727) 453-6524; or me at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, (813) 744-5519.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at the Hillsborough Extension. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.