There is truly nothing quite as pleasing as a beautifully landscaped house. Choosing to landscape your yard is a great decision and adds value to your home. However, landscaping in Central Florida presents its own unique challenges. You might be asking yourself some of the following questions:
How Climate and Weather Affect your Florida Landscaping
Central Florida is known for its tropical climate. Florida’s weather is always changing. There is a distinct rainy season (Summer), hurricane season (Summer and Fall) and a distinct dry season (Winter and Spring). It can be extremely dry and hot one day and the next, rainy with a chance of humidity. Except for a few months in Winter, it is usually humid. So, it is crucial to build a strong foundation with plants that thrive in a humid subtropical climate.
Soil in the Central Florida Yard
Central Florida is unique in that it is very sandy compared to other parts of Florida. The sand here has its own name: Myakka. It is very poor at holding water and nutrients. You will need to enrich the soil around your house. Soil amendments will provide the organic, nutrient-filled materials that will help your garden grow. Compost is a great choice. It is essentially decaying plant or animal matter that acts as a soil fertilizer. It can be layered with mulch to prevent the growth of weeds. Speaking of mulch...pine straw works really well as a mulch in Central Florida.
Florida Trees, Plants and Shrubs: What to buy
Budget-friendly landscaping options should always include perennials. Perennials are plants that flourish long-term. Florida native perennials that are good for the residential landscaper include the Florida boxwood shrub, yellow elder flower, silver buttonwood hedge, firebush shrub, Dwarf Podocarpus, bay cedar shrub, and the Live Oak tree. These are all affordable plants that would thrive in the Florida sun.
Other affordable plants that are extremely hardy and perfect for the Central Florida weather include Rosemary, Loropetalum, and an Indian Hawthorne shrub. The Indian Hawthorne is a very popular shrub for the Florida landscaper that requires little to no gardening experience. These plants are very low maintenance and can be planted anywhere in your yard. Flowers that will last in the hot Florida sun include: Pentas, Coreopsis, Bush Daisy, Mexican Heather, and Hibiscus. These flowers are fantastic additions for your front yard because of their vibrant color and low cost. Again, visit your local garden center to see what they have on hand.
Low Care, Low Cost Front Yard Design
You may be struggling to decide whether you want low care plants that are cost-friendly or beautiful flowers that flourish in the Florida heat. You can have both.
Go Grass Free: The first way to minimize expenses for your landscaping, is to go grass free. Although the thought of having artificial grass seems a bit out of the norm there are many pros to turf installation. Artificial turf is basically a surface of synthetic fibers that look like natural grass. The many pros of this include:
Rocks: Another great way to landscape your yard is with rocks. Rocks are inexpensive and require no maintenance. They make great beds for flowers and add definition to your front yard.
Entrance Path and Driveway Design: Another simple and easy way to bring your front yard alive could be with a flower-lined path to your focus point: The Front Door. When visitors enter your front yard, you want it to feel inviting. What better way than to install a pathway. Line the pathway to your house with mulch, shrubs and bushes. Add flowers or seasonal annuals from your nearby garden center for some pop of color. Additionally, another great idea is to line your driveway with mulch and colorful foliage plants like Crotons. This is a wonderful option because it is budget-friendly and a fan favorite in Florida. Crotons are easy-care and feature a variety of colors like red, gold, orange, and green.
Small Yard Design
One of the best ways to design a small yard is to omit the lawn entirely. No more lawn mowing. This can be done through landscaping flower beds. Flower beds add great texture and depth to your front yard. They are also great for reducing surface area. The issue for many front yards, is the constant need for upkeep and maintenance. By making the decision to garden a large part of your yard, you are saving yourself money and upkeep down the line. Using the space in your yard to fill with beautiful plants and flowers will have your lawn mower thanking you for giving it a break! Flower beds will transform your front yard from being an ordinary plot of green land to a land full of color. That’s why it’s very important to pick the right plants that would work for your yard. Some flowers that will flourish in Central Florida include: Lantanas, Tickseed, Petunia, Buttercup, and Blue Daze. These are great flowers to choose from because of their hardiness and ability to bloom year round. They are also very durable and Florida-friendly.
Keep it Simple, Keep it Easy
Simple, easy landscaping designed to enhance your Central Florida yard should be just that...simple and easy! First, amend the sandy soil. Consider synthetic grass. It will save you loads of money, and it is both low maintenance and eco-friendly. Choose Native trees, plants, and shrubs that are ideal for the climate. Your plants stay alive longer and flourish year-round. Use locally grown plants. Buying local not only supports your local business neighbor, it is budget-friendly. And, because the plants are already acclimated to the area, they will more likely thrive in your yard.
Aventura Nursery is your local go-to garden center for the perfect trees and plants for your Hernando County home. Call us at 352-799-3200 for more information. And don’t forget to Follow our Pinterest where we post our latest specials and garden projects to try at home.
1. Before digging, call 1-800-432-4770 for a free underground utility check. Accidentally cutting an underground utility is costly and potentially dangerous. Also check to see where your septic system is if you have one. Avoid planting near it.
2. Location. To cool your house, choose to plant trees to shade the eastern, southern, and western exposed walls of your house. Small trees can be planted 10’ – 16’ from the house. Large trees can be planted 16’ – 22’ from the house.
3. Look up. Don’t plant under utility lines unless the mature size of your plant will be shorter than the height of the line.
4. Do your homework. Call the local county extension office for recommended trees for your site and needs.
a. Buy quality plants.
b. Buy trees with only 1 trunk except for small trees such as crape myrtles.
c. Don’t buy pot-bound plants.
d. Make sure that your choices are not on the prohibited plant list for the county.
e. Palm trees don’t provide much shade. Use them in groups or in narrow areas.
5. Digging the hole. Hire a tree hole digger if needed. Make sure the planting hole is no deeper than the size of the pot and 2 – 3 times wider than the root ball of the plant.
Planting and maintenance is critical to the health of your plants.
a. Never handle the plant by the trunk. Carry it by the pot.
b. After removing the pot, gently loosen roots and cut circling roots. If pot-bound, make several 1 – 2 inch deep slices down the sides of the root ball.
c. Position the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface.
d. If the tree is balled and in natural burlap, remove the top 1/3 of the burlap after planting the tree in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in synthetic burlap, remove all of it after setting the tree in the hole. Remove any twine or rope that is around the trunk.
e. Fill the hole with soil that was removed to make the planting hole. Do not add any other materials (such as organic matter, potting soil, fertilizer, etc.) to the soil. They are not needed.
f. When the hole is half full of soil, saturate with water to remove air pockets, then fill the hole until it’s even with the ground level.
g. Build a 3” high circular berm around the outer edge of the planting hole.
7. Watering. Water deeply and thoroughly.
8. Mulch. Use an organic mulch such as eucalyptus, Enviro-Mulch (melaleuca), or pine bark, two to three inches deep over the entire planting area. Keep the mulch at least 2 inches away from the trunk.
9. Tree staking. Stake the tree only if needed. If it is top heavy, unstable, or in a windy location, stake the tree. Remove the stakes 1 year after planting.
10. Watering schedule. For well-drained soils after planting -
Month 1: Water daily, making sure entire root ball is saturated
Month 2: Water 3 times a week, making sure entire root ball is saturated
Month 3: Water 2 times a week, making sure entire root ball is saturated
a. For large trees continue to water once per week for 1 – 2 years.
b. Less water may be required in winter.
c. For soils that are not well- drained, water less frequently. Use your best judgment.
d. The root ball should be kept moist but not wet.
11. Fertilization schedule.
a. Broadcast the fertilizer under the drip line of the tree canopy but not close to the trunk.
b. Six months after planting, apply a light feeding with a balanced, complete slow-release fertilizer.
c. After the first year, fertilize three times per year (spring, summer, and early fall).
d. Some palms have special fertilizer requirements.
a. Don’t prune until 1 year after planting unless to remove dead or damaged limbs.
b. Never hat-rack or top trees. It’s illegal and harmful to the long-term health of the tree. The tree will also be susceptible to damage from high winds. Instead, thin out the canopy to allow wind to blow through.
c. Trim branches properly (not flush cut).
d. Don’t apply tree wound paints.
13. Never injure the trunk with weed-eaters or lawnmowers .
14. Don’t plant flowering plants that need watering under trees.