I am shocked and outraged that the city would even consider a plan that forces property owners to remove the “drainage rock” from their swales when the State of Florida along with many other state governments across the country continue to recommend using eco-friendly xeriscaping.
There is a large amount of material on the benefits of eco-friendly xeriscaping available online – too many to include in this letter. When I built my home 22 years ago I was encouraged to xeriscape, in fact, at a much higher cost to me at the time.
What is xeriscaping and why use it?
-- Lowers consumption of imported or ground water. More water is available for other domestic and community uses and the environment.
-- Less time and work needed for maintenance effort, with gardening simpler and less stressful. Little or no lawn mowing.
-- Xeriscape in appropriate planting design, and soil grading and mulching, takes full advantage of rainfall retention.
-- When water restrictions are implemented, by municipality or water costs, xeriscape plants will tend to survive and thrive, while more ornamental plants may be unable to adapt.
Benefits of xeriscaping
-- Saves water. For most of North America, over 50 percent of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 percent to 75 percent.
-- Less Maintenance and watering requirements are low.
-- No Fertilizers or pesticides. Eliminates the need for chemicals.
-- Improves property value.
-- Pollution free. Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated.
The reason presented for the rock removal is completely false. What is the purpose of “drainage” rock? Why would they call it “drainage rock” if it’s not used for drainage purposes? Why is “drainage rock” installed behind seawalls if it isn’t used for drainage purposes? Landscapers and seawall companies use drainage rock since it “drains” better.
It would actually make much more sense for the city to mandate all swales to be drainage rock.
Granted the swales are owned by the city. So if the city adopts this ordinance then I propose the following on their city owned property:
1. Reimburse all property owners for the cost of the rock we installed in good faith and per governments recommendations.
2. City to absorb all costs to remove the rock and redistribute per owners specifications.
3. City to replace the rock with their choice of product at city’s cost.
4. City to fully maintain city swale owned property to their specifications.
Which raises another point. Since the city owns all the swales then the city should maintain all of them including installing their preferred product, mowing, fertilizing, and watering. Why are homeowners footing the bill for city owned property in the first place?
Well over 50 percent of homeowners don’t maintain their grassy swale properly. So many of them are unsightly and a disgrace to the island. If the city maintains all island swales this would solve that problem. The city could install irrigation down all Marco streets and water at their cost. The city could have its own swale department for mowing, weeding and fertilizing the swales. Think of the jobs it would create in an economy where jobs are hard to find. I bet folks would come from all over the country for one of these jobs on Marco Island.
I encourage City Councilors to stop the attack on xeriscaping, unanimously reject the proposal to remove rock in swales and continue to encourage eco-friendly xeriscaping on Marco Island. Passing this ordinance would be a step backwards.
Patricia L. Berry
Marco Island Resident and Homeowner since 1975