Need your creative ideas for Florida landscaping.

maja127(33914)October 22, 2006

We purchased a new home in SW Florida. The area around my pool cage/lanai needs to be landscaped. Need help completing what I've started. I've planted heather along the front of the pool cage because I wanted something low that won't block the view of the canal. Now I'm wondering if it looks too 'straight' and plain. At the corners, we had double trunk pigmy dates planted. They were planted 2 months ago & I plan on completing the beds in November when we return for a visit. What would be a good idea along the sides of the pool cage that would blend all the sides together? Would like some privacy, but I'm afraid that I might select plants that will become too large in the future. I know the biggest mistake I can make is over planting! Maybe plants with color that might attract hummingbirds? We are not living in Florida full time yet, but I'd like to get the area around the pool cage completed so that when we do make the move, it will be filled in & pretty. One last thing, the back of the house gets full sun most of the day.

Here is a link that might be useful: need your creative ideas

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    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 11:15AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

In Florida, areca palms (dypsis lutescens) are often planted as 'hedges' along bare walls and for privacy. I like them better if not planted too densely, so the bamboo-like multiple trunks can be appreciated. You could fill in with pink-leaved cordylines, or colorful crotons. This arrangement might not be 'tidy' enough for you, however. It's not really the same look as your heathers. It also might not be considered particularly creative in Florida, but the plants are readily available and easy to care for.

Can you show us a pic or two of areas of your garden you really like a lot? Not really sure what kind of style you seek.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 3:51PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Sorry, forgot about the hummingbirds. Instead of crotons, mix in some Justicia brandegeana, or shrimp plant. They will go for that.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 3:58PM
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Thank you for your reply. There's nothing to show in the garden at this point, as it is a new home. Here is a better idea of the back yard. The only plant remaining at this point is the triple christmas palm. The area around the pool cage is where I could use some help. I'd like to add more tropical looking plants that will bring all the sides together with the pigmy palms & heather, but, I also don't want to block the view of canal.

Here is a link that might be useful: back of house

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 8:48PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

That photo really helps put things in context. In my original reply, I was thinking of the areca palms going along the sides of the pool cage, but that's not a good idea now that I see the layout. I would be more inclined to develop the grass area out toward the corners of your lot into some deep beds of layered tropicals to frame your view.

So imagine you are your house facing the water. Extend your arms in front of you, palms down, fingers slightly spread, now bend your elbows. Your arms represent the positoning of the beds embracing some lawn and the pool. Make sense? (Where DO I come up with these descriptions?!?) Where your hands are, you could plant groups of palms, some that will grow tall (about where your wrists are), some that will stay shorter, and then fill in with some colorful foliage or flowering plants that don't get more than waist high, and others that stay below knee height. Edge the beds with ophiopogon japonicum/mondo grass for a neat look. (The dwarf species can be planted in a grid pattern if you like a modern architectural look.) Put some very tall-growing palms along the sides of the house to complete the look, maybe archontophoenix cunninghamiana/king palms, chambeyronea macrocarpas, or even roystonea regia/Cuban royals if you have room (and the heavy fronds won't be falling on cars or people). You could still use the areca palms at the corners of the house where they won't obstruct your view, or along the right-hand side of the pool cage in the photo.

All the named plants will thrive in zone 10, uh, but you don't show your zone. If you are zone 9b, some of these are still ok. Bear in mind, I live in California, which is nothing like Florida, so it would be a VERY good idea to get advice from a local landscaper as to the plants.

Your house and garden can easily be transformed into a lush resort-like environment, and I would hope the lushness of the palms and plants would distract from the pool cage. Silly question -- why is the pool in a cage? I don't see that done here. Just curious.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 12:45AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)


    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 1:33AM
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I'm sitting here typing and putting my arms out to understand your hints! You must have lots of experience!
Your description is great!

I'm assuming that you think the Arecas would be better on the right side of pool cage, since the left side is so narrow, and they can grow bushy.
Problem is that it's the left side which is very close to property line, that can use the privacy areca provides. I was hoping that I can trim the areca to keep it under control. Planting the grasses you mention sounds nice. I was thinking of Dwarf Pentas also, to bring in some color.
If I decide to plant the pentas, which grow to about 16", on the sides, do you think I need to bring some along the front with the heathers? If so, mix them in with heathers or a clump in each corner?

On the left, can you see where there are white pipes coming out of the lawn? I was planning on a rather large bed containing lots of tropicals-bird of paradise, banana, bottlebrush tree, etc. I suppose that's what you mean about developing the grass areas at the corners of my lot? Since there's lots of room here, I think it will fill that side nicely & prevent me from sticking plants all over the place on the lawn. Right now, every plant I look at I want & that can be a big mistake in Florida. I figured if I contain myself to one large bed it will keep things under control.!!
On the right side, I have a triple Christmas palm that I can build up around. There's not too much space there so I'm planning on keeping that simple, perhaps with some ornamental grass or cacti under the tree.

I'm from NJ, so I'm not really sure about why Florida uses pool cages. To keep the bugs out? Keeps the pool clean? So it can fall when there's a hurricane?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 7:46AM
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Call your County Ag extension office in Florida and ask about the "Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program". Some of the offices will even help with designs and plant materials.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 9:17AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I meant put the areca palms on the property line side of the cage for privacy if there's enough room (the right side while viewing the photo). If there is 3 ft, you can do it. If you put them on the other side (middle of lot) they will be too bushy.

Careful! I am not a professional designer or landscaper, just an obsessed amateur, and as such my experience is limited. I suggest you get your ideas together and consult with a professional, especially since you are tempted to buy every plant you like!

Pentas would be lovely, but don't mix with the heathers. The heathers are fine, nice and simple, just as they are, with the pygmy date palms at the corners (my 2 cents). Don't want to overcrowd things.

The Palm Society has a message board where people tend to post photos of tropical gardens, you might check it out for some inspiration. Here, I've done a photo search for you:

Here is a link that might be useful: Palm Society

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 12:16PM
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thanks everyone.
I have a much better idea of what I should do & not do.
I'm hoping to find a good landscaping design company in my area. Think the best thing to do is give them a list of plants I like and have them figure out where to put everything. Since we won't be living there f/t right now, I can start slowly & complete in stages.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 9:51PM
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