October 23, 2007

A Citrus County builder, landscaper and irrigation contractor are being recognized for incorporating water conservation and water-wise landscaping into a model home’s design with the county’s first Water-Wise Landscape Award.

Rusaw Homes, The Greenery Landscaping and Coast to Coast Irrigation took first place for the Oakdale Anniversary model in the Citrus County Fall Parade of Homes. The Parade of Homes is being held through Oct. 28, 10 a.m. 5 p.m. weekdays and noon 5 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors can see the model at Pine Ridge Estates, 2819 West Lantana Drive, Beverly Hills. The landscape was recognized for using drought tolerant Bahia sod, good plant selection and the preservation of native buffer zones, and the use of low-volume irrigation in landscape beds with a soil moisture sensor for each zone.

The Water-Wise Landscape Award program’s cooperative partners include the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Citrus County Cooperative Extension Service office and Citrus County Utilities.

Angela Maraj, the District’s Builder/Developer Landscape Education Specialist, and staff from the Extension Service office judged the entrants.

During the past six years, Maraj has worked with the building industry and the Water-Wise Landscape Award program in other areas of the District.

“I am excited to work with the builders and contractors in Citrus County and build upon the success the program has had in other counties,” said Maraj.

Builders competing in the program were evaluated using the criteria and format of the Water-Wise Award program, initiated by Tampa Bay Water for Tampa Bay-area home builders in 1996.

The criteria were derived from landscaping principles that include but are not limited to:

  • the inclusion of drought-tolerant vegetation,
  • appropriate plant selection for the site conditions,
  • the use of mulch,
  • rain collection devices,
  • minimal and/or practical use of grass,
  • designed landscape areas that can exist primarily on rainfall and appear healthy, and
  • water-wise irrigation systems when irrigation systems are needed.

Showcasing the water-conserving features included in the Parade of Homes landscapes is a unique way to promote outdoor water conservation. Landscaping and irrigation account for up to 50 percent of water used by the average household. Utilizing efficient irrigation techniques and water-wise landscaping is especially important for residents in the District where water resources are limited.

Builders and developers are invited to attend the workshop “How to create an Award-Winning Water-Wise Landscape,” Nov. 8, noon at the Citrus County Builders Association, 1196 S. Lecanto Hwy, Lecanto. Please call the association at 352-746-9028 to register.

Visit the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org or call 1-800-423-1476 for more information about the nine principles of Florida-friendly landscaping and how you can utilize water-wise landscaping techniques in your yard.

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