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The Big One: Everglades livin’

January 19, 2021 -  By

Location: Punta Gorda, Fla.
Company: The Davey Tree Expert Co.

Babcock Ranch is a sustainable community located in Southwest Florida, near Fort Myers. It features a downtown area, housing communities, a school, fitness center, trails and more. Davey Tree has managed the community since 2016 and has had a front-row seat to its transformation.

Davey went from having one employee on the property whose focus was blowing debris and manicuring the property to a crew managing more than 20 separate contracts within the property.

“It’s the most unique community I’ve ever been in, just with how little turf there is,” says Jason Bassler, southern regional manager for Davey. “I’ve never been on a property with this much mulch. Weed control by far is the No. 1 obstacle at this property. It’s daily. You can’t take a day off from weeds ever.”

Most of the plants on the property are Florida-centric cultivars, such as sunshine mimosa, perennial peanut and native grasses, Bassler says. The idea for the property is to look like it’s carved out of the Everglades. Davey complements the native plantings with seasonal annuals in pots.

Davey also uses battery-powered equipment to follow the community’s sustainability initiatives. Crews use Oregon battery-powered string trimmers, stick edgers and blowers, as well as Mean Green mowers.

This project earned Davey a 2020 Gold Award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

The Big One (Photo: Melinda Yoho)

(Photo: Melinda Yoho)

Living alongside natural areas at Babcock Ranch allows residents to spot all kinds of native Florida wildlife, such as alligators, wild boars and snakes.

The Big One (Photo: Melinda Yoho)

(Photo: Melinda Yoho)

Low-maintenance native plants help beautify Babcock Ranch’s downtown area while supporting its commitment to sustainability.

The Big One (Photo: Melinda Yoho)

(Photo: Melinda Yoho)

The trailhead of Babcock Ranch’s Sunset Park leads to a large lake and pet exercise enclosure. Maintenance includes trimming ornamental grasses once a year and herbicide applications in the line of sight of the trails.

The Big One (Photo: Melinda Yoho)

(Photo: Melinda Yoho)

To ensure safety and accessibility for walkers, daily porter services clear walkways and paths.

The Big One (Photo: Melinda Yoho)

(Photo: Melinda Yoho)

Solar trees blend into the landscape alongside the palms. They help supply power to the homes and businesses of Babcock Ranch.

The Big One (Photo: Melinda Yoho)

(Photo: Melinda Yoho)

Founder’s Square is the heart of Babcock Ranch. Crews care for the ‘Sylvester’ palms, live oak trees and hedges around the buildings to keep a tropical appearance that is neat and invites shoppers and diners to visit downtown.

Christina Herrick

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