Tampa holds contest for landscaping that conserves water

It doesn’t have to be xeriscape – that is, plants that require little or no watering. It just has to be water-related.

TAMPA, Florida – No doubt many of us will be tending our lawns and gardens over the weekend, and the city of Tampa has an added incentive.

The city just launched this year’s competition to encourage people to save water while preserving beautiful scenery.

Particularly proud of your garden? Do you have a lawn that is praised by neighbors? Well, if your green thumb is water saving too, the city of Tampa wants to hear from you.

“They are recognized by their local leaders and they are given the right to brag for the neighborhood,” said Chuck Weber, director of the Tampa Department of Water.

Tampa has launched a competition called the Community Water Wise Awards Program. It recognizes individuals and companies who are committed to conserving water resources and protecting the environment.

It doesn’t have to be xeriscape – that is, plants that require little or no watering. It just has to be water-related.

“There are many plants that are drought tolerant, use very little water and are beautiful,” says Weber.

There is no better example of this than Anni Ellis’s garden. In fact, Ellis was last year’s winner.

“I have drip lines everywhere. I’ve had them for ages, ”said Ellis, particularly proud that a large part of her garden is edible.

Annis Hof is by no means barren or colorless.

She uses dropper bottles, soaks attached to rain barrels, and even compost to create a ground cover that retains moisture.

“I try to put what the plant needs next to it. I have compost outside. I have two composting jobs, ”she said. “I have one who is ready to step into one that is constantly moving.”

The city appreciates the efforts as they help conserve natural resources as the community continues to grow.

“When it comes to saving water, it is very important that there is enough water for the people who are here now and those who might come,” says Weber.

The competition has five categories, including residential, apartment buildings, commercial, schools and authorities or construction companies.

The city will send a team of local landscape specialists to assess the applicants’ yards and even make recommendations.

Applications are possible until June 30th. The winner will receive a bespoke mosaic garden stepping stone and, as Weber said, boast rights. But as the recent drought has shown, water-saving landscaping is a win for all of us, Weber said.

Tampa’s Water Department says programs like this absolutely work.

Twenty years ago, they say, daily water use in Tampa averaged about 200 gallons per person. Today, for all the growth we’ve seen, that is down in half to less than 100 gallons a day.

To enter the Water Wise landscaping competition, you can apply at awards.tampabaywaterwise.org.

You can also request an application by calling (813) 274-5912.

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