Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Public picks winner of $35,000 park landscape

SAVANNAH, GA — Three companies have been chosen as finalists in the waterSmart Landscape Challenge here. The winner, which will be determined by public vote, will be awarded a $35,000 contract with the City of Savannah to install their garden design in Bryan Square. You see each of the plans and vote by going to or clicking on the headline.

Three innovative landscape designer firms have created sustainable, water-efficient gardens for Bryan Square on Hutchinson Island as part of an overall effort by the city and state of Georgia to show residents how to create and maintain landscapes that use less water.

The three finalists are:

• Kern-Coleman & Co.: Multi-disciplined landscape architecture firm based in Savannah
• Thomas & Hutton Engineering Company: Savannah-based firm with more than 26 years experience in landscape design
• Witmer-Jones-Keefer, Ltd.: Bluffton, S.C.-based landscape architecture and land planning firm

"These three firms have delivered beautiful, creative and sustainable gardens designs that will welcome visitors to Hutchison Island and showcase our city's commitment to sustainability," said Laura Walker, administrator of Savannah's Environmental Affairs Department. "Each showcases new ideas for water-efficient landscapes that can easily be translated to residential gardening and I hope everyone takes the time to see them at"

Bryan Square is located on Hutchinson Island and sits between the ferry landing and the entrance to the new Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, where thousands of visitors arrive each year. The property is also part of the Savannah Harbor at Hutchinson Island development, which will rely significantly on reclaimed water for landscaping needs.

The waterSmart Landscape Challenge's main objectives are to promote water conservation and education, while highlighting the creative potential of waterSmart landscape principles, specifically selecting plants that suit the location and minimizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides. The selection of the right plants used in the right places will yield landscapes that, once established, can be maintained with little or no supplemental watering.

"Maintaining beautiful lawns and gardens requires much less water than most people realize. Overwatering harms plants and wastes a valuable community resource," said Deron Davis, director of the waterSmart program for the state Environmental Protection Division. "By creating waterSmart landscapes, homeowners can significantly reduce their water consumption - and their water bills."

In order to maximize public awareness of water-efficient landscaping and irrigation techniques, proposals were evaluated in a two-stage process. In the first round, a panel comprised of landscaping professionals and knowledgeable representatives selected by the city of Savannah selected the three finalists. In the second round of judging, residents of Savannah and across the state will select the final design through a period of online voting. Installation will occur according to the city of Savannah's needs, and will be paid for through a contract with the city.

The city of Savannah is working in partnership with the waterSmart program of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. A Request for Proposal, which includes rules and site information, can be obtained online at

About waterSmart

waterSmart is an education program designed to give Georgians the information they need to successfully conserve water. Developed by the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority in 2000 for residents in its service area, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division began using the waterSmart brand in communications and education activities in 2006 to help residents statewide understand how to maintain their landscapes while using less water. The State waterSmart program was piloted in six communities in 2007 and went statewide through a partnership with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in 2008. For more information, please visit

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