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Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department earned PGMS' Green Star award for using green, water-conserving practices to create and maintain beautiful landscaping. Photo: Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department

Florida's Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department earned high honors from the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) for using green practices to develop 800 acres of landscape — including adding colorful rocks in place of annuals to reduce water consumption, using local materials, keeping medians and swales well-mulched to prevent weeds, and reducing the use of herbicides and irrigation.

PGMS' Green Star Awards program recognizes grounds maintained with a high degree of quality and individual professional efforts to sustain high maintenance standards. Each year, the grounds society hands out Grand, Honor, and Merit Awards in various categories covering private, public, commercial, and industrial landscapes. This year, the Miami-Dade park & rec department received the Grand Award in the Public Works Site category.

Past winners in the Public Works Site category include the Milwaukee, Wis., boulevard system, for outstanding maintenance of boulevard landscapes and adding to residents' quality of life by connecting them to neighborhoods, and the Hollywood Business District in Hollywood, Fla., for preserving the historic values of downtown while introducing 21st-century maintenance technology such as paved center medians with flowering groundcovers.