University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener:
The Xtreme Makeover Project

A Collier County Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Success

In June 2009, one year after installation, the ‘Empire’ zoysiagrass lawn is a rich green, and the mulched garden bed is nearly weed free, with spreading shrubbery and blooming plants that shield the soil.

An Extreme Beginning

The Xtreme Makeover was initiated by the Big Cypress Basin office of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), which serves Collier County and part of Monroe County. The "makeover" was designed to illustrate how any landscape can be transformed into a Florida-Friendly Landscape. The project team wanted to create an attractive, easy-to-care-for landscape for a homeowner, one that suited the homeowner’s needs without emptying her wallet.

Many local companies donated their time, expertise, and resources to the installation, and the Xtreme Makeover Project was monitored for the past year primarily by its two most visible partners, SFWMD and the Collier County UF/IFAS Extension Office. It was also unofficially monitored by the general public, who often called the Extension Office to let staff know when things were not looking as perfect as they expected.

Perfection, however, was not the goal. Demonstrating the success of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ was the goal. If the ideal lawn is out there, it has so far not been discovered. Neither has the ideal, problem- and maintenance-free irrigation system.

While it's unrealistic to expect perfect conditions on any property, it is possible and reasonable to expect a significant reduction in water, fertilizer, and pesticide use on the home landscape by following the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles applied in the Xtreme Makeover Project.

One-Year Anniversary

On June 20, 2009, SFWMD and Extension Office personnel, board members of the Water Symposium of Florida, Inc., and other project partners met at the project site to answer questions about the Xtreme Makeover.

The public wanted to know: Were there any insurmountable problems with the project? How was the landscape holding up after 12 months? What lessons had been learned? And what does the future hold for the Xtreme Makeover?


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