Re-Blogged from the University of Florida

Pollinator Attraction

Bringing pollinators to your garden is an important step in building a healthy landscape. Several pollinator plants such as anise hyssop, Walter’s viburnum, and chaste tree are excellent pollinator plants. Pollinators provide much needed ecosystem services and their presence should be encouraged whenever possible. Each of the following plants has unique characteristics which make them excellent attractors for pollinators throughout Florida.

Anise Hyssop

Anise hyssop, is a perennial of the mint family that can be found in upland forested areas, plains and fields. This plant grows to two to four feet tall and is noted for its summer bloom of lavender to purple spiked flowers and its fragrant foliage. It is best grown in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. This plant performs well in moist soils, but good soil drainage is essential. In order to properly manage anise hyssop e sure to remove spent flowers to promote additional blooms that will encourage pollinators to forage in the landscape.

Walter’s Viburnum    

Walter’s viburnum makes for an excellent hedge plant, this Florida native features a cluster of small white flowers in spring that attract butterflies, and its fall fruit attract birds and other wildlife. It’s also a favorite nesting site for cardinals and other songbirds. Walter’s viburnum prefers full or partial sun and will tolerate a range of different soil types. This is a low-maintenance plant and highly drought-tolerant, but it can produce root suckers, therefore, regular pruning is a practice that can enhance growth and maturity.

Chaste Tree

Chaste tree features sage-scented gray-green leaves.  This tree has several cultivars which offer a choice in flower color. One variety ‘Alba’ have white flowers which bloom in clusters while another variety ‘Rosea’ has bright showy pink flowers. Chaste tree has a strong ability to attract wildlife. Although not a Florida native species, native butterflies and hummingbirds feed on the nectar. It is also attractive to bees and encourages honey production in surrounding hives. Leave the chaste tree room to grow, since this vase-shaped plant can grow up to 15 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide. These plants develop low, drooping branches when left unpruned. In your landscape this plant will grow best in well-drained soil where standing moisture is not present. Planting a pollinator attractor like chaste tree offers significant aesthetic value to a landscape while also providing valuable ecosystem services.

by Luke Miller 

Posted: January 7, 2021

Re-Blogged from the University of Florida

Happy New Year! Have you made resolutions to take better care of yourself? Don’t forget to include well care and septic system care into your resolutions!

Did you know… Approximately 12% of the Floridians rely on private wells for home consumption. While public water systems are monitored under the Safe Drinking Water Act, private wells are not regulated. Private well users control the management and protection of their wells. Contaminants of concern in drinking water include fecal coliform bacteria and nitrate concentrations of 10 mg/L or more.

Did you know… More than 30% of Florida households rely on septic systems. The state has identified septic systems as well as fertilizer used for agriculture and residential purposes as major sources of nitrogen to impaired water bodies. Septic systems are also potential sources of fecal coliform bacteria and other pathogens to ground and surface waters, particularly if poorly cited, failing, or under flooded conditions.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate our life and set goals for ourselves. We have scheduled a monthly webinar series to help you better take care of your private well and septic system.

2021 Private Well and Septic System Webinar Series

February 9, 2021: Private well 101, Registration: http://bit.ly/38okHjP

March 9, 2021: What is Hard Water? Registration: http://bit.ly/395Odd3

April 6, 2021: Lead in Drinking Water, Registration: http://bit.ly/38lTs9w

May 11, 2021: Septic System 101, Registration: http://bit.ly/2LovIs8

June 8, 2021: Advanced Septic Systems, Registration: http://bit.ly/2L5mscw

July 13, 2021: Private Well Care Before and After A Storm, Registration: http://bit.ly/2XdzOGc

August 10, 2021: Septic System Care Before and After A Storm, Registration: http://bit.ly/3be7aNn

September 21, 2021: Common Home Water Treatment Systems, Registration: http://bit.ly/2MGLkIb

All the webinars will be held on Zoom, 2 PM – 3 PM ET. If you have any questions, please contact Yilin Zhuang at ylinz@ufl.edu.

by Yilin 

Posted: January 7, 2021

This Halloween, instead of the usual tricks and treats, why not organize a spooky lakeshore clean-up? Between now and October 31st if you, your family, friends, school or business conduct a lake clean-up, you can be eligible for a different kind of treat and recognition.


Eligibility is SIMPLE. Just send us an email with the following information by Monday, November 2nd:

  • Team Name
  • Contact Name
  • Contact Address
  • Contact Phone
  • Number of Participants
  • Date of Clean-Up
  • Name of Lake

Please include at least one photo of the clean-up

Send all requested information to: lakeseducation@hotmail.com

The Board of Directors of the Lakes Education Action Drive will select 20 teams/participants to receive a special gift and all teams/participants will be featured on our website and social media.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRY IS MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2020


Lakes Education/Action Drive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and quality of lakes in Polk County, Florida. Established in 1985, LE/AD has taken an active role in the pursuit to preserve our lakes and environmental resources. Lakes are ecologically and economically valuable, and our lakes deserve our care and protection. In addition, LE/AD encourages residents to take advantage of the many excellent opportunities our lakes provide.

2020, the year of COVID-19 and the “new-normal”. Well, here at LEAD, we are not fans of the new normal and are working diligently to get back the old normal. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 the board of directors along with the City of Lakeland has determined the 2020 Cardboard Boat Challenge (in its current form) is cancelled.

Both the LEAD Board of directors and the City of Lakeland has requested Lakes Education Action Drive to research an alternative to the in-person challenge. An alternative that will continue to bring awareness to the importance of water quality in Lakeland and Polk County. And an alternative that local schools and businesses can get behind.

The next board of directors meeting will take place September 15th and will include a discussion and decision on an alternative to the challenge. Originally, the 2020 Challenge would have taken place on October 3rd. Should the board vote on an alternative, we will ensure participants have enough time to prepare and compete. Please stay tuned.

Re-Blogged from the University of Florida

Whether you get your water from a public utility, a well or recycled water, the source will influence how much water you save, a new University of Florida study shows. Turns out, city water users tend to engage in more conservation practices than those who get their water elsewhere.

Just as important as who conserves water and why, researchers hope their findings give consumers more of a chance to reflect on how and why they save water.

Scholars have studied water conservation from many angles, but in this study, UF/IFAS researchers start to connect the dots between our sources(s) of water and how much we conserve it.

UF/IFAS researchers surveyed 3,310 Floridians though an online poll. Participants revealed whether they used city/public water, well water or reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is treated at wastewater facilities before residents use it to irrigate their landscapes.

Here are some findings:

  • Well water users are less likely to use recycled water, use a rain sensor, calibrate their sprinklers or use smart-irrigation controls.
  • Reclaimed water users are more likely to use recycled water and use a rain sensor. They’re also less likely to retrofit their landscape so they only irrigate some of it.
  • City water users feel the strongest personal and social obligation to conserve water.

“Our findings may provide a chance for people to critically reflect on water use and seek out more information,” said Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS associate professor of agricultural education and communication and a co-author of the paper. “Households might take the opportunity to explore conservation strategies that best fit their water source or learn about the unique characteristics of each.”

These findings are critical as scientists and policy makers consider how to preserve water as the population of Florida and the rest of the United States grows.

Florida’s more than 20 million people use about 1,680 million gallons of water per day. So, it’s imperative that Floridians conserve the precious commodity, Warner said.

More than half of every household’s water goes toward irrigation. That’s 9 billion gallons of water per day to keep up lawns and landscapes nationally, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Water conservation behaviors could be influenced by perceived availability, perceived consequences of groundwater depletion and perceived value of the water,” Warner said. “These actions are informed by whether the water was intended for other uses, such as drinking and whether the household pays a fee for the water and so forth.”

For example, they might ask themselves:

  • How does city water get to my home?
  • How does recycled water affect water availability?
  • Are there nutrients in my recycled water?
  • Where does my well water come from?

Warner focuses her research and Extension work on helping Floridians adopt the most appropriate and impactful conservation strategies to benefit natural resources and households. She also helps identify strategies to better understand individuals’ perceptions and educational needs related to water.

“We suspected people had different perceptions of water use that would be associated with each water source,” Warner said. “This new evidence could help us understand those needs, including different advantages and disadvantages, along with different consequences of groundwater depletion.”

For the study, Warner worked with Lisa Krimsky, a regional specialized agent for UF/IFAS Extension who’s based in Fort Pierce and Anil Kumar Chaudhary, an assistant professor of agricultural and Extension education at Penn State University.

Chaudhary started helping with this research while a doctoral student majoring in agricultural education and communication at the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He finished his collaboration with Warner after graduating and taking his faculty position at Penn State.

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by Brad Buck 

Posted: August 27, 2020

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) received more than $2.4 million in funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to assist with aquifer testing, feasibility, and preliminary design for the planned Southeast and West Polk Lower Floridan Aquifer (LFA) wellfields in Polk County. The projects are cooperatively funded between the District and the Polk Regional Water Cooperative (PRWC). Traditional water sources are nearing their sustainable limits in Polk County and alternative water sources will need to be developed to meet the projected needs.

Read More Here

By Ralph E. Mitchell

I often ask people who want to control pests this question: “Do you prefer to mop up the floor or shut off the faucet?”  This relates to the logic of whether you want to stop the reason certain pests are present, or just continue to kill them as they come.  If the reason a mouse has entered your house is a hole – plug up the hole!  There is often an identifiable reason why pests are present and spontaneous creation is not a reason!  This is particularly evident with cockroaches.  These insects need food, moisture and shelter, which we often provide unknowingly.  Through the prevention methods of exclusion and sanitation, cockroach populations can be significantly reduced and/or prevented.

Read more from the University of Florida Blog.

How do I get started?

Look with a critical eye. What is it you’re dealing with? Is the area prone to erosion, steeply sloped and hard to mow? Dealing with shaded areas? Experiencing well-drained sandy soils or occasional flooding? Is salt spray an issue?  Begin by identifying the growing conditions. Then, identify plants that can exist in harmony with the site. Right plant, right place means matching plants with the growing conditions.

Heart shaped green caladium with red veins grown in a container.

Caladium ‘Red Flash’

Evergreen native Florida plant blooms in fall with purple seed heads.

Muhly

Lance shaped white leaf caladium with green veins.

Caladium ‘Candidum’

Read More at the University of Florida Blog.

Since 1998, when the National Association of Lake Management Society launched Lake Awareness we have focused attention on lakes and reservoirs and their unique value, as well as the management issues they face.

Lake Clean Up

In 2003, Lake Awareness Week became Lakes Appreciation Month, held annually in July. Lakes Appreciation Month has helped raise awareness on lake issues and helped local groups share their success stories with a broader audience.

The Month of July is Lakes Appreciation Month! You work and play on them. You drink from them. But do you really appreciate them? Growing population, development, and invasive species stress your local lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.

Can you Help?

All life needs water, let’s not take it for granted! Lakes and reservoirs are used for a variety of purposes: water supply for municipal, industrial and agricultural use; recreation; flood control; and aesthetic enjoyment. However, they are often considered “free” resources by users and this can result in abuse and neglect.

July is a great time to set aside some time to celebrate and help your favorite lake or reservoir. It’s a time when many folks are vacationing and enjoying lakes and reservoirs. Just think, what would your life be like without lakes?

Over the next month, many of our local municipalities and Polk County Commissioners will proclaim July as Lakes Appreciation Month. Here are just a few that have already indicated they would.

  • Auburndale
  • Lakeland
  • Lake Wales
  • Winter Haven
  • Polk County
  • Lake Alfred
Don’t let this happen to our lakes!

LE/AD Podcast

On Friday, June 26, 2020 LE/AD had the chance to interview Greg Knothe from Polk County Parks and Natural Resources. Greg is works in water resources and oversees the County’s NPDES permit.

We used this interview to discuss the current Lake Gwyn Restoration Project in and around Wahneta. Click the link below to listen to the latest podcast.

Lakes Appreciation Month Podcast

Find out more at the National Association of Lakes Management Society webpage.

Play Lakes Appreciation Bingo

May is Nation Water Safety Month and the Lakes Education Action Drive wants ensure that every member of your family is safe on our waterways this summer. Below are a few links to help you and your family become water safety aware.

National Water Safety Month Partners

American Red Cross

Safe Boating from State Farm

Safe Boating from Discover Boating

Resources from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Be listening to LEAD’s Podcast during the month of May for more safety tips.