Landscaping Advice Needed

CherryOakSeptember 4, 2011

I recently moved from the Midwest to Florida, and I am currently renting a house. I feel like it has a lot of potential for landscaping, but I am clueless as to what plants I should be using for this region. I'm not worried too much about the lawn, I really would just like something planted along the base of the house and in the concrete planter. The landlord lopped off the tops of the bushes that are currently growing (as seen in the pictures), but I am willing to replace those. A concern is the lack of gutters on the front of the house. When it rains, it POURS, and I'm afraid it will wash out anything I try to plant beneath the roof line. The house faces south, and the area gets plenty of light. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Front View

Possible bed area?

East of house

Porch, planter and bush

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    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Oh yeah...say what part of Fl you're...N, S or C or what town. Most anything you plant at foundation will be in front of the roof spillway...about 2 1/2 to 3' from wall so no real worry about the gutters.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 11:56AM
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No offense intended but are you rich or just bored? Why are you wanting to landscape a house that you are only renting?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 12:47PM
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Your porch would look great with potted plants and you can take them with you when you move. Southern Living has a great magazine out that is all about container planting and design.

Next spring plant some plants that vine (mandevilla, bougainvillaea, morning glory, moonflower, etc) or from seeds (which are the cheapest way to go) to grow up the sides of the two trellis-like walls. Also, you can put a bulb garden in this fally in the front next to the porch. Soil is relatively cheap when bought by the truck load and bulbs make a great impact without a lot of money and effort. Sam's Club has 100 daffodil bulbs for $15 right now.

I understand your desire to have a garden even though you don't own the house. In every apartment or home I rented, I always did landscaping with annuals or with plants I could take with me when I moved. My neighbors loved me for it because it brought color to a home where most renters don't care.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 4:20PM
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The Podocarpus by the front walk must go. It's trees where you should have color.

The garish colors in this layout are for visibility only.

The two small trees: matched color crape myrtle (probably the fastest growing, most readily available, easy-to-control-size small flowering tree.)

In planter next to drive (yellow)...spilling perennials...ornamental sweet potato vine. or Caladiums if you're far far enough south (zone 9b)

(magenta) along walk: annuals...Caladiums or whatever strikes your fancy.

(green shrubs) below bedroom windows: goldmound, plumbago or spiraea (whatever you choose matching, of course.)

(chartreuse groundcover): liriope or asiatic jasmine @ 18" o.c.

While I was here drawing, UPS stopped by and left a big orange on your porch (Governor Scotts standard can probably get $10 for it on Ebay.)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 6:33PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I can understand the desire to improve one's view, even in a rental. Will the landlord kick in for the cost of plants? If so, maybe look at azaleas, japanese magnolia and camelias. Choose dwarfs or smaller-size varieties so as not to cover windows, or place taller plants a distance away from the house.

If you are on your own, some cheap quick fixes might be lantana, daylilies, combined with stalwart annuals from seed such as rudbeckia, echinacea, or gaillardia.

Growing plants in pots is a great option if your tenancy is limited. You could easily tuck in pots of bromeliads here and there among basic green shrubs, then take them with you when you go. All the plants I mentioned could be grown in pots of various sizes and transported when the time comes.

I'm just tossing out a few plants to stimulate your imagination, not suggesting a specific planting scheme. Figure out your budget and visit a garden center, but don't purchase plants the first trip; just take lots of notes. Then go home and read up on the plants you liked to be sure the needed care and eventual size fits your life and space. Once you have a more clear idea of what you want, then purchase the plants.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 2:35PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Not having gutters is something this transplant is still getting used to also. As said above, something big should be planted outside the dripline. But you can put coleus or other shorter plants inside the dripline. If you start digging, the loosened ground can easily wash away because of that slope. For that reason, I would probably confine myself to planting the smaller plants inside the dripline. You could also consider a lasagna-style island in the middle of the yard.

I've always improved the landscape at rental houses. You can do a lot without spending much money on permanent plants in the ground. As said above, pots can hold more expensive shrubs, and if you find a few foliage plants that propagate easily, you can have a beautiful show every year for nothing but effort. One thing I've found that makes a yard with a lot of pots look best is if the pots are all the same color. White, terra cotta, green, whatever, just so they are all the same. Tradescantias, sweet potato vines, coleus, annual seeds, persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus,) begonias, spider plants, etc... can all be quickly formed in to colonies of lovely color. Pass-alongs like cannas, callas, elephant ears, are easy to come by for free if you befriend people who are growing them.

Another thing you can take with you is bricks. You can use them to put an edge between the lawn the planting space, which changes the look immediately. You can move them around and if you feel really industrious, you can put them in a shallow trench so you can run your mower tires right over them to eliminate the need to weed-wack your edge.

Call "call before you dig" before you dig (or if you try to remove those poor, mangled shrubs.)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 3:10PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

How cold does your location get in winter? It looks like you may get some real cold in winter, so fast growing tropicals won't be a good fit. I'd also suggest ditching those straggly Podocarpus, and maybe replace with some Aucubas or Pittosporum tobira 'Wheelers Dwarf' or a bank of Cronin's. Other fast growing foliage plants might include things like Hedychiums, Alpinia zerumbet variegata, Osmanthus fragrans, Clerodendron ugandense, variegated Yuccas, or the aforesaid mentioned standards such as the azaleas, Sasanqua Camellias, Dwarf Hollies, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Caladiums, Odontonema spp's, and other classic, fast growing plants familiar in north Florida. Some of the faster growing heat loving perennials such as Hedychiums and Cronin's might be easily available from neighborhood gardens or Craigslist, because the need frequent dividing. Fast growing houseplants such as variegated Spider Plants and Purple Heart Setcreasea pallida could also be used as a quick growing massed ground cover planted from cuttings.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 2:39AM
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