October 23, 2007

A Polk County builder and landscaper 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.

Tapia Construction and McDowell Landscape Services took first place for the Leonardo IV model in the Polk County Fall Parade of Homes. The Parade of Homes is being held through Oct. 28, 4 6 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. 6 p.m. on the weekend. Visitors can see the model at Grandfield on Poley Creek, 4074 Grandfield Circle, Mulberry. The landscape was recognized for excellent plant selection and installation techniques, having roof runoff effectively directed to plant beds and the use of micro-irrigation in the landscaped beds.

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

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 Polk 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,” Oct. 30, 9 a.m. at the Polk County Builders Association, 2232 Heritage Drive, Lakeland. Please call the association at 863-665-0844 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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