Friday, July 29, 2011

Landscaping Tricks for Tough Locations

There are areas in any landscape that can be difficult to maintain. The areas may not receive enough irrigation, the area may be on a slope, the soil might be unsatisfactory, or it may be a hot and dry location that can make it tough for plants to survive. If you have a tricky spot in the landscape, take a look at the following photographs and give some of our suggestions a try.

1. In this landscape, Perennial Peanut is used instead of turfgrass or mulched beds. The landscaped area is in the full sun and its proximity to the street makes mulch a bad candidate (it could wash away). Perennial Peanut was used because it is drought-tolerant (no irrigation required after establishment) and it produces attractive yellow flowers all summer. The peanut will only grow to a few inches tall so it will not need to be mowed. This is a low-maintenance alternative for a tough landscape location.

Perennial Peanut is used instead of a traditional lawn.

2. Here you can see that Beach Sunflower was planted in a median strip that you traditionally see planted with turfgrass. The median, surrounded by cement on all four sides, is hot and dry. There is no irrigation in this location. After it is established, Beach Sunflower will not need to be pruned, irrigated or mowed. It can be left alone to spread and flower. What a great choice for a landscape area that can be difficult to irrigate!

Beach Sunflower is used in a sunny, hot median.

3. Landscaped areas along the street can be difficult to maintain. The environment is harsh and many plants do not survive. Here, Coontie Cycad and ornamental grasses are used. A variety of tough, drought-tolerant plants can add visual interest to a low-maintenance landscape.

Coontie cycad and ornamental grasses make this a no-mow, low maintenance area.

4. In areas where mulch might wash away, choose rock. This landscape uses rocks to eliminate problems that may occur if mulch is used.

Use rocks to cope with slope in an area where mulch would wash away.

5. Another option for a sloped landscape or median is Juniper. With a densely planted groundcover you don’t have to worry about mulch washing away. Juniper will require minimal pruning, dense growth habit reduces the need for mulch, and drought-tolerance reduces the need for irrigation after establishment.

A dense groundcover, such as this Juniper, will grow thick enough to eliminate the need for mulch.

If you are have a tough landscape situation look for tough plants and aim for low-maintenance. If you have questions about designing a tough situation contact the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program™ or go to for more landscaping tips.

Fall Florida-Friendly Landscaping Workshops Scheduled

Creating a Rain Barrel
Friday, August 19, from noon—1:00 p.m.
Lakeland Electric Admin Building
501 E. Lemon St., Lakeland
Park in parking garage Level 1A, 1B or Magnolia Building. Attendees must have a photo I.D.

Lunch is included. Rain barrels will be available for $60. Please preregister at:

Thursday, September 29, 10:00 a.m.— noon
Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk’s Nature Discovery Center

4399 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland

Rain barrels will be available for $60. If you would like to purchase a rain barrel, please preregister at:

Saturday, October 29, 9:30 a.m. — 10:15 a.m.
UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service
1702 US HWY 17 South, Bartow
You MUST preregister if you would like a rain barrel. Please preregister at:

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™
Design 101 and Plant Sale

Thursday, Sept. 8, from 10:00 a.m.—noon
Circle B Bar Reserve

4399 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland
Plants will be for sale at this workshop!
Please preregister at:

Friday, October 14, from noon—1:00 p.m.
Lakeland Electric Admin Building
501 E. Lemon St., Lakeland
Park in parking garage Level 1A, 1B or Magnolia Building. Attendees must have a photo I.D.

Lunch is included. Preregistration is required.

Please preregister at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Visit the Gardens at Florida Southern College

The grounds at Florida Southern College in Lakeland are a great place to explore, have a picnic, and take photos of gorgeous plants! On a recent visit I was happy to see that Lynn's Garden (on the corner of Lake Hollingsworth and Ingraham) was flourishing. Lynn's Garden is full of native and Florida-Friendly plants. Around the campus you can see roses, large specimen trees, shade gardens, fountains and garden ornamentation, exotic and common plants in mature landscaped beds. Take a trip to Florida Southern and don't forget your camera!

In Lynn's Garden you can see two types of Perennial Peanut.
'Ecoturf' and 'Needlepoint' are both doing exceptionally well in full sun.

A stately Live Oak provides shade.
The picnic tables nearby are a great place to relax with lunch.

Yucca and Holly 'Schellings Dwarf' are planted together in Lynn's Garden.

The hillside along Ingraham Avenue is planted with a variety of Florida-Friendly plants.
You will see viburnum, flax lily, coontie cycad, and beautyberry.

A shade garden is filled with green texture. Liriope, ferns and ginger fill in this bed.

A small courtyard with a lovely fountain creates a peaceful place to sit.
Shaded landscape beds are filled with ferns and other plants.

I found two rose gardens at the college.
I don't know the history behind them, but they seem to have quite a collection.

A view of Lynn's Garden down to Lake Hollingsworth. Quite a large hill for Florida!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Creating a Rain Garden in a Courtyard in NYC

Great article about creating a rain garden at Columbia University. Interesting how they used a rain barrel to direct water in to the garden.

Creating a Rain Garden at Columbia University

Friday, July 1, 2011

Garden Accents

Garden accents (such as sculptures, birdbaths and stones) help draw the eye to a specific place in the garden. They help highlight a pretty plant and make your yard feel like an extension of your home. Check out how Polk County gardeners have used garden accents in their yards.

This modern sculpture sits in the middle of a lovely butterfly garden. A great juxtaposition to the free-form plants and draping foliage.

This eagle sculpture sits in a landscape bed full of green foliage plants. What a great way to add interest in a garden bed where you have only foliage plants!

Such a cute way to make sure your birdbath is filled! In this garden, a rock is used for a birdbath and a hanging (and decorated!) jug full of water hangs nearby.

Decorate your yard with recycled or found objects! Colorful glass bottles can be used many different ways in the garden. This sculpture is simply old bottles and rebar. Use your imagination to make something pretty in your yard!

Arbors beckon for garden visitors to walk down a path. They can also be used to add height in the middle of a garden bed. Hang plants from your arbor to obstruct an unsightly view.

A simple cement ball peeks out from underneath some variegated foliage. Don't forget that garden accents come in all shapes and sizes. Take advantage of pretty garden spots and create small vignettes with plants and garden accents.

A garden bench is a great place to rest and simply enjoy your yard. Create a lovely sitting area using something we all have in our trees--Spanish moss! What a unique idea!

There are so many ways to add interest to your yard and highlight the beautiful plant that you have growing. Choose your garden accents sparingly, you don't want too many scattered throughout the yard. Just a few will add the finishing touch to your yard.