CLEARWATER - Is your landscaping the envy of the neighborhood – not just because of its beauty, but also because it is Florida-friendly and water-efficient?
Then you need to enter the 2015 Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water.
For the past 16 years, the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards program has recognized those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices.
If your current landscaping isn’t quite up to snuff to enter this year’s contest, but you would like to make your home or business more “Water-Wise,” it’s easier than you might think.
Tampa Bay Water has developed a six-part video series that highlights previous winners of the Water-Wise Award, and provides tips on how you can make your landscaping more water-efficient and Florida-friendly. Who knows, maybe next year you will be one of our winners!
The first in the series discusses the importance of stormwater runoff prevention in your landscaping. Simply put, stormwater runoff is the rain that does not soak into the ground, buildings, parking lots and walkways where it falls. Instead, it runs into storm sewers, which ultimately lead to waterways, taking with it all the pesticides, chemicals, grass clippings and other garbage it has picked up along the way.
Florida-friendly landscaping can reduce the amount of stormwater runoff drastically. In the first video, which also is available at www.TBNweekly.com, previous winners discuss numerous ways they have reduced stormwater runoff in their own yards. Here are a few tips:
• Minimize impervious services on your property. For example, instead of paving a garden path, use crushed shells or mulch.
• Use rain barrels. Instead of directing downspouts onto driveways, where the water will run off into storm drains, direct them into rain barrels. Then, use the captured water on a day that isn’t so wet to water plants in need of a drink.
• If you don’t want to use rain barrels, direct your downspouts to a vegetated area, such as your garden or lawn.
• Replace parts of your lawn with Florida-friendly landscaping plants and native plants. Lawns aren’t as effective at absorbing and retaining water, especially during heavy rains, as larger or dense plantings, which slow water down.
Using correctly placed native and non-native adaptive plants in your landscape helps slow down water so it can percolate into the soil and is then used by those plants efficiently. As an added bonus, correctly designed and placed landscape plantings generally require less maintenance than turf grass.
• Don’t leave soil exposed. Exposed soil is subject to erosion during our periodic heavy rains and impact water body clarity. If you have a bare area, at a minimum, make sure it’s mulched.