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Clearwater couple wins 2016 Water-Wise Award
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[Image]
Photo courtesy of BRIAN NIEMANN
Tiki and Brian Bates of Clearwater are the winners of the 2016 Water-Wise Award. The couple has spent many years working to transform their yard into an urban oasis.
[Image]
Photo courtesy of BRIAN NIEMANN
From left, Tiki Bates, winner of the 2016 Water-Wise Award, Pinellas County Commission Chair Janet Long, and Brian Niemann, Florida-Friendly Landscaping Extension agent. Bates and Long are holding the mosaic-glass stone awarded to all the winners.
CLEARWATER – Tiki and Brian Bates of Clearwater are the winners of the 2016 Water-Wise Award in the single-family residential category.

Tiki was on hand at the Jan. 24 Pinellas County Commissioners meeting where she received recognition and the coveted mosaic-glass stone from Brian Niemann, Florida-Friendly Landscaping Extension agent and commission Chair Janet Long.

The Bates have lived in their home in Coachman Lakes Estate since 2000 and have spent many years working to transform their yard into an urban oasis, Niemann said. Because their yard wasn’t suitable for growing grass, they decided to create a landscape made up entirely of shrubs, trees and groundcovers.

Niemann pointed out that their wise choice of plants makes it possible for their landscape to exist primarily on rainfall. The couple does have a 1,200-gallon cistern and a series of hoses they can use. In times of extreme drought, they also can use the in-ground irrigation system that came with the house to keep their plants alive.

Niemann said the Bates take care of their landscape management and have Florida-Friendly Landscape recognition.

“Their landscape serves as a model for how to create a healthy and attractive landscape without causing damage to the environment,” he said.

Tampa Bay Water and its partners, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences County Extension Offices and Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, sponsor the Community Water-Wise Awards program.

It recognizes individuals and businesses that are committed to conserving our water resources and protecting the environment by using the best in attractive, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, as well as irrigation systems or techniques that minimize water waste.

In order to be a winner, a landscape not only needs to be water wise, it also needs to be attractive, Niemann said. Landscapes need to be actively managed, pruned properly, etc.

Dave Bracciano, Tampa Bay Water’s demand management coordinator, pointed out a few of the reasons the Bates won the 2016 award, including having the correct grouping of well-established plants with good mulching using organic recycled materials. The landscape also is aesthetically pleasing, with correctly pruned plants.

The use of the large cistern that potentially eliminates the use of potable water for irrigation was a plus, as was the minimal use of turfgrass. Although Bracciano pointed out the use of turfgrass is generally acceptable and credits are given when it is a functional use. The key behind Florida Friendly Landscaping is the right plant in the right place.

2017 awards

So how can you win an award and get your own mosaic-glass stone designed by local artist Peggy Fuhler? The coveted stones weigh about 11 pounds, are sturdy enough to put in the garden or landscape, and won’t break when stepped on.

Residents, businesses and community organizations can apply between now and June 30 online at tampb­aywat­erwis­e.org. You’ll be asked to fill out a short form and upload photos of your landscape. If it meets basic criteria, a representative of the University of Florida IFAS County Extension will schedule an on-site evaluation of the landscape and irrigation system.

The awards program recognizes those who are committed to conserving water resources and protecting the environment by using the best in attractive, water-efficient landscaping practices.

“It’s important that the community take steps toward efficient water use and protecting our drinking water sources from pollution – the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards program helps residents and organizations do that,” Bracciano said.

Judges will be looking for:

• Reduced water use: Choosing Florida-friendly plants suited to Florida’s natural environment require less water. Native and Florida-friendly plants thrive in this environment and are typically drought tolerant.

“If the right plants are placed in the right locations, they shouldn’t need supplemental irrigation except for times of extreme drought,” Niemann said. “Just because you can water on a particular day doesn’t mean you should.”

• Minimal maintenance: Water-wise landscapes typically have less turf grass and use plants that require less upkeep. Plant the right plants in the right places and, once established, the landscape requires almost no maintenance.

• Protecting the environment: Selecting pest resistant plants, fertilizing appropriately and reducing stormwater runoff are all elements of water-wise landscapes that also protect the environment and drinking water sources.

Niemann added that landscapes must be at least 1 year old to be considered for the award.

Visit tampa­baywa­terwi­se.or­g/Pas­tWinn­ers/V­ideos­.aspx to view a showcase of past winners. The videos include information about their personal landscaping practices and irrigation techniques, and the benefits of Florida-Friendly Landscaping.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County Editor. She can be reached at webmaster@tbnweekly.com.
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Phone: (727) 397-5563
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