Drought killing landscaping projects, could cost you

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 07:33:57-04

Your tax dollars are drying up as landscape projects worth millions of dollars shrivel up and die across Florida. 

Bringing those landscape projects back to life could cost you. They're shrouded, scorched and losing their tropical luster. 

Largo resident Joseph Murray exclaimed, "It's looking more like Phoenix than Florida!”

The drought is ruining landscaping projects that we all spent our hard earned money on. FDOT spends $50 million a year making medians along state roads, like 686 in Largo, look beautiful. The plants, grass and trees they pick are supposed to thrive in tough conditions. This Spring, they’ve met their match:  the worst drought in decades.

Greg Brown, supervisor of the Largo Parks Department explained, “We rely on tough plants and supplemental watering when we need it, and lately we’ve needed a lot of it.”

Water trucks can’t keep up with the drought, and neither can city coffers. 

Largo has already spent 75% of it’s annual budget for landscape upkeep, leaving the city with just $5,000 to last until October. “There’s only so much we can afford,” Brown added.

Thousands of shrubs are dead and replacing them won’t be cheap. Largo recently asked the state to give them $90,000 extra to replace all the plants and shrubs that died.

Will Mington Nunez argues it’s worth every penny. Thursday crews started transforming the Park Boulevard median just outside his Pinellas Park hair salon by planting perennial peanut sod. “It’s like getting a hair cut. You look good, you feel good. When things around you look good, you start feeling good about where you’re at.”

Largo resident Joseph Murray also likes the look of the landscaping, but not enough to throw more money at it. “Taxypayer money is a sore subject. A lot of people won’t want tax dollars going to something like that.”

The only savior for our wallets, and our landscaping, is rain. And a lot of it.

“Inches and inches of rain would be great,” Brown said with a chuckle.