Westview On the Bay Condominium, located on Smokehouse Bay, took on a bold project by adopting a Florida Friendly Landscape design. According to resident Marge Klasa, the trigger for this project was the destruction of their surrounding landscape and property by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
The Westview property suffered damage to the sea wall, deck, sidewalk and pool area which was a result of the 6-foot sea surge.
Originally, Westview had grassy swales that run along both the north and south edges of their parking lots to improve stormwater absorption. Over time, shifting sediments have reduced the effectiveness of these swales. During heavy rains, Westview had a problem of standing water surrounding the property coming from the roof and pouring down the driveway causing flooding.
As a common theme of “stormwater management,” rain garden solutions came up as a flood remedy. The Westview board members also consulted with Mary Jane Cary, Master Gardener of the University of Florida/IFAS Collier Extension. They also included the expertise of their landscaper, Eileen Ward of Greensward.
Their first step was for the Homeowners board members to learn more about Florida Friendly Landscaping design and their benefits. They also consulted with Liz Haines, a resident and a long-term member of the Calusa Garden Club for her input.
As a result, Westview was able to reduce their lawn areas and increased the number of native plants. Two rain gardens on both sides of the property were designed and installed. Westview was able to turn their water problem into two functional and attractive rain gardens.
A rain garden is basically a low section of the landscape planted with native plants that like to get their “feet” wet. It collects rainwater from the roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground thus filtering the amount of pollutants reaching the waterways.
Westview also rebuilt their seawall, deck and tackled the slope of the pool deck area that had been washed out by the 6-foot sea surge. They planted a low growing never need mowing, fertilizer free, ground cover called “Sunshine Mimosa” for the slope of the pool.
For Westview, the rain gardens also provide essential elements needed by local wildlife such as food, clean water, cover and a place to raise young. Westview On the Bay has been recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Westview also host a burrowing owl on their property affectionately named “Irma,” and according to Liz Haines, the owl lives harmoniously with the tadpoles swimming in their rain gardens.