New Landscaping Guide Helps Homeowners Look Like Pros
Carrie T. Stevenson
Coastal Sustainability Agent
Escambia County Extension
Are you considering trying something new in your landscape this year? A well-thought out, written landscape design plan is the best way to begin, and this is a great project to tackle while sipping cocoa in front of the fire on a chilly day. Winter is also a great time to take the first steps in a good landscape plan, which includes installation of hardscape (patios, benches, fences, etc.) and planting trees. Trees often serve as the focal points of a landscape, and November-February are ideal for planting them in north Florida.
A new "green" home in Pensacola recently utilized Florida-friendly landscaping in its design. Photo Credits: Carrie T. Stevenson, Escambia County Extension
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) program at UF has recently introduced a wonderful (and free!) tool for homeowners to utilize when considering starting or reworking a landscape. Found online along with many other helpful publications at http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/publications.htm , The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design includes an overview of the principles of FFL, how to use the landscape guide, and eight scenarios for making an existing landscape more Florida-friendly.
Florida-friendly landscapes are often quite lush and beautiful! Photo Credits: Polk County FYN Program
The design scenarios include particular portions of the landscape that can help improve curb appeal, such as a front entryway, along sidewalks and walls, or under windows. The model landscapes also address places that are traditionally more complicated due to their proximity to obstacles or problem sites, such as along fences, under trees, near utilities, and in standing water. Because of this focus on specific areas, the guide is perfect for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to tackle one project at a time.
Each scenario section gives readers a sample landscape design, challenges to overcome, and an overall goal for improving the area. Plant types that work best, design solutions, and both overhead and side views of a completed landscape help the reader visualize the outcome.
The guide includes a planning worksheet with a step-by-step overview of landscaping, along with ecological considerations such as soil type, wind resistance, shade conditions, and native vs. non-native plants. Perhaps the most eye-catching portion of the guide is the plant list, which is a detailed 66-page, full color overview of the best plants to use in Florida landscapes. Categorized by plant type (tree, shrub, vine, etc.) and including details such drought tolerance, soil type, attractiveness to wildlife, light requirements and salt tolerance, this guide is a one-stop-shop for plant information. If you live in north Florida, be sure to select plants with the green “N” highlighted and check the map for whether you live in USDA cold hardiness zone 8a or 8b. A separate list of these plants and design patterns for their use can be found at http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/FFL_Book_Zone_8A-8B_081610.pdf
If you have any questions about plant selection or landscaping, be sure to contact your local extension office. Until then, happy designing!