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Swale Landscaping Recommendations
Purpose of Swales
Swales are low shallow areas located between the travel way and resident’s homes and/or sidewalks. Swale areas are part of the City’s public right-of-way; however, residents adjacent to the locations are responsible for maintenance and upkeep. Within the neighborhood streets, swale areas are often used for supplemental parking, which results in damaged vegetative areas and unrest from neighboring residents responsible for their upkeep. Excessive car parking in swales also results in compacting soils so densely that water cannot percolate properly through the soil down to the water table, therefore aggravating water ponding on streets and sidewalks. However, the City’s Public Works Department recommends swale planting solutions to promote lush landscaping, deter vehicles from parking within these areas, and serve to provide adequate drainage.
Birds, bats, bees, and butterflies, and other small insects and animals are responsible for sustaining our native ecosystems and natural resources by aiding plants to reproduce. Pollinating animals and insects travel from plant to plant collecting and carrying pollen to the reproductive plant to create a variety of benefits. In the City of Coral Gables, the staff from the Greenspace Management Division of Public Works has implemented pollinator areas in a variety of sites such as parks, roadside plantings, and at historical sites! These sites include Merrick House, Robert J.Fewell Park, Miracle Mile, Public Library Pollinator Garden, Catalonia Park, Majorca Park, and the the bat houses at the Boy Scout Hut.
If you look around the city, you can witness some natural beauty in the form of flowering trees such as; the pink flowers of the Cassia Bakeriana, the beautiful yellow flowers of the Cassia Fistula and the Bulnesia arborea (Verawood), and the red and yellow flowers of the Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia) trees. Some examples of the plants you will be seeing at these sites would be Coontie (Zamia pumila), Lantana (Lantana involucrata & depressa), Simpson Stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans), and Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides). You can also see some original Miami-Dade County native species such as Miami-Dade County Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) and the Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata).
Southern Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) take up about 25% of our urban tree canopy here at the City of Coral Gables. Live Oaks provide significant food and cover for wildlife including being the host plant for the Red-banded Hairstreak butterfly (Calycopis cecrops) and other species of butterflies and bugs, as well as the Oak’s acorns being food for squirrels, and nesting trees for owls and other birds.
Three species are native to Florida: Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa).
- Red mangroves are easily identified by their "prop roots," which are tangled, reddish, aerial roots that originate from the trunk and branches. Their leaves are 1 to 5 inches long, broad and blunt on the tip, shiny, deep green on top, and paler on the underside.
- Black mangroves can be identified by numerous finger-like projections, called pneumatophores, that protrude from the soil around the tree's trunk. Black mangrove leaves are oblong, shiny green on top and covered with short dense hairs on the underside. Black mangroves are usually found in slightly higher elevations upland from red mangroves.
- White mangroves have no visible aerial root system like red and black mangroves. The easiest way to identify white mangroves is by the leaves. The leaves are up to 3 inches long, elliptical (rounded at both ends), yellowish in color, and have two distinguishing glands at the base of each leaf blade where the stem begins. White mangroves are usually located in elevations higher and farther upland than either the red or black mangroves.
Value & Functions of Mangroves
- Mangroves trap and cycle various organic materials, chemical elements, and important nutrients in the coastal ecosystem.
- Mangroves provide one of the basic food chain resources for marine organisms.
- Mangroves serve as storm buffers by reducing wind and wave action in shallow shoreline areas.
- Mangroves provide physical habitat and nursery grounds for a wide variety of marine organisms, many of which have important recreational or commercial value.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, it is estimated that mangroves contribute $7.6 billion annually to the economy and create 109,000 jobs in Florida
- Mangroves are protected under Florida State Law.
- Trimming of most mangroves within Coral Gables will require the services of a Miami-Dade County Certified and Registered Professional Mangrove Trimmer.
- FDEP List of Professional Mangrove Trimmers
For information on mangrove trimming permits and finding professional mangrove trimmers please contact Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management - DERM, Coastal Section
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone Number: (305) 372-6575
- Office location: Overtown Transit Village. 701 NW 1st Court, 6th Floor. Miami, Florida 33136
Fines/Penalties for Illegally Cutting Mangroves
For a first violation, property owners may be required to restore the area. For subsequent violations, property owners and the person performing illegal trimming can be fined:
- Up to $100 for each mangrove illegally trimmed
- Up to $250 for each mangrove illegally altered
Million Orchid Project
Thousands of native orchid seedlings, as part of the Million Orchid Project, are being planted on Coral Gables City trees. In 2014, the Coral Gables City Commission voted to fund $30,000 to reintroduce the orchids that were once plucked from the trees to be shipped north as potted plants. In the late 1800s, masses of orchids were hauled away from South Florida’s forest to be sold as disposable houseplants. At first, there seemed to be an endless supply, but orchid populations eventually dwindled to catastrophically low levels.
“This project is well-matched to George Merrick’s dream of creating ‘a City that is a garden’,” said Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason. “Our already beautiful green landscape will be simply stunning when the orchids are in full bloom.”
On Earth Day 2014, the first orchids of the Million Orchid Project were planted at Merrick Park, across from City Hall. Thanks to the partnership between the City of Coral Gables and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, approximately 250,000 native orchids will be installed in various public green spaces , parks and roadway swales.
Swale Planting/Irrigation PermitSwale Planting/Irrigation Permit