When you live in a small residential community, the homes and the landscaping around them often look very similar, especially if the community is governed by a Home Owners Association. Wishing to have a garden that would distinguish our house from the other forty-nine in our gated community, my husband and I decided to hire a landscape professional to redesign and plant gardens that would be different from what the builder originally provided.
The only plants in our front yard that we wanted to keep from the “landscape package” that was included in our building contract was a Pygmy Date Palm, a small Oak Tree, which was mandated by a county ordinance, five Gold Capella Arboricola shrubs, two Gardenia bushes and several dwarf Xanadu. We also were keeping two large Sylvester Palms that we purchased and had planted in our front garden right before moving into our home.
The problem with our narrow backyard was not only the lack of any plantings but also a swale that runs the length of our property in front of a large Oleander hedge that is part of the community’s and our back property line. The swale has a storm drain that allows excess rain water to flow into an underground system that slows and filters the water before it reaches the Indian River Basin and the Atlantic Ocean just a couple of miles from our home.
Because of our home’s open concept design and large glass sliding doors that lead out to our patio, the swale was one of the first things you noticed from our great room…not a very pretty sight by any means.
While some might not think our landscaping was that bad, it was the one thing that I didn’t like about our home. I wanted to have gardens that would complement the design our new home in Florida…a tropical garden with a mixture of plants that would make us feel like we were on a vacation in your own backyard.
Over the past eight months, we had three different landscapers visit our home but were not happy with any of their proposals. Then I discovered Jennifer Bevins of Construction Landscape one day while I was looking at Houzz on the internet. Jennifer was a BEST OF HOUZZ AWARD WINNER for the last three years. From our first meeting with Jennifer, where she listened to differing ideas from my husband and I, all the way through to the four days of installation, she was a delight to work with. Let me show you our garden transformation.
In a hard tropical downpour, mulch in the garden area would wash away so Tennessee river rock in beige earth tones was used to slow water flow as well as a durable and low maintenance ground cover. A landscape fabric was laid under the stone to keep it from settling into the ground. The fabric discourages weeds yet it is permeable enough to let water slowly drain through it.
The rounded stones of various sizes add both texture and color contrast between the driveway and walkway pavers and the dark brown mulch. The curved rock area is planted with low and compact Liriope to soften the look yet they won’t overtake the walkway when mature. Gold Capella Arboricola, Flora Nora Aunte Lou, Breynia Disticha Snowbush, Dwarf Ixora, Foxtail Fern, a Furcraea Foetida (similar to an Agave), a Queen Palm and Spindle Palms were planted behind to create height, visual interest and color. The design makes the walkway look and feel wider.
We now have a tropical landscape design that will grow into an overlapping mixture of palms trees, shrubs, and boarder plants of varying heights with layers of texture and color. The palm tree’s fronds create much needed shade for the under plantings during the hot summer months.
Our yard was too small for a backyard pool but landscaping has given it a resort like feel. The covered and screened patio is now surrounded by new plantings that create a nice view from our great room out to our patio and the backyard. A Gardenia that was once planted by our front entrance is now growing just outside the screened patio where the breeze will perfume the area with its heady fragrance.
A stately Dypsis Decaryi Triangle Palm with Pigmy Date Palms flanking its sides and a underplanting of colorful Codiaeum Croton Magnificent, Flora Nora, Dwarf Xanadu Philodendron, Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’ and Dwarf Oyster Plants now can be seen as you enter our great room.
Even while small, the patio garden is distinctive with both sharp edged spikes, soft rounded leaves, lush green mixed with brightly colored leaves and variegated foliage that add both texture and light.
We are very happy with the transformation of our gardens and can’t wait to see how the landscaping will look when the plants grow to maturity. They are hardy, low care plants for easy maintenance that will work very well with our new lifestyle when we are gone weeks at a time traveling.
I now have gardens I can be proud of and I think our neighbors will approve when they pass by each day. What do you think, have you done something similar with your yard? Did you do all the plantings yourself or did you hire a landscaper to help transform a garden?
This post is dedicated to all gardeners and landscapers, both amateur and professional, whose tireless work makes our world a little nicer place in which to live and work.