Q: A few years ago, my neighbor received a pretty stepping stone as an award for a water conservation program. What do I have to do to enter?
Answer: Good timing for your question! Tampa Bay Water sponsors the Community Water-Wise Award Program for the tri-county area (Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties). This program recognizes individuals, businesses and nonprofits that have committed to conserving our 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 our lobby 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. Visit tampabaywaterwise.org for information and 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 trees and Chinese tallow. Landscape elements that could minimize fertilizer and pesticide use also are evaluated.
This program/contest ends June 30, so be sure to complete and submit your application at the above website before that date. If you have questions, contact Pasco, Pinellas or our UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County office.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hills borough Extension.. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.