Do It Yourself Landscapes: Ideas, Tips And Advice For Florida Landscaping

Florida can be difficult, the combination of temperature extremes and salinity often causing landscaping problems. Here are some inexpensive tips for your own landscaping projects.

Beautiful, sunny Florida; just the mention of the state's name and it calls to mind white sandy beaches, spectacular ocean sunsets, and beautiful homes that are just perfect for retirement getaways. Surprisingly, landscaping ideas are incredibly easy in this southern state, provided you know some of the tricks of the trade. Interested in learning more? Here are some great tips and pointers to keep in mind, when planning your beautiful Florida landscape.

Out of all the states, Florida boasts the greatest number of native plants that can be used for rural and home landscaping. In fact, while Florida's native flora is protected under the Plant Protection Law, this very law promotes not only the preservation, but the propagation of Florida's native plants. Bear in mind that this law states that it is illegal to cause damage, destroy, collect, harvest or pick any of the plants that are protected, without written permission from the property owner, but once you've established that it's alright to transplant or take cuttings from a particular plant, they are a wonderful alternative to otherwise expensive nursery-grown greenery. Additionally, native grown flora are better adapted to the environment which you intend them for, tend to be more bug/disease resistant when it comes to local pests, and some greenhouses even keep a supply of native plants in stock at a reduced cost.

Taking a walk around the area that you intend to landscape, map out the surroundings and what you would like to see. Where your property located and what is the climate like; remember that coastal properties need plants that are best adapted to survive high salinity, due to salt spray. Some inland and northern areas don't see as much rain and must, therefore, be more drought resistant. Does your property provide shade during the heat of the day? Delicate flowers quickly wither when they are exposed to the scorching heat of the day. While we often take into consideration, our surroundings when purchasing our own home, we often forget to consider the new home which we are moving our new plants to.



Now that you have mapped out your property, consider the soil. Florida soil tends to be very dry, as most of the moisture quickly evaporates in the intense heat. Lacking the rich topsoil of other states, the ground is often hard and crusty, leading many to assume that it is only suited for cacti and prickly shrubs. Fortunately, Florida law also prohibits the disposal of yard waste in lined landfills. Because of this, most lawn clippings, leaves, and pine needles are set out to the road for collection and then burned. All of these provide inexpensive mulch, which can greatly enhance your landscaping project.

Mulch is very beneficial to Florida plants, helping to hold moisture in the ground, providing insulation against both the scorching sun and the cold nights, as well as decaying to add beneficial nutrients to the soil. It has been noted, also, that plants that grow in mulch tend to develop more roots, making for stronger, healthier plants. If this isn't bonus enough, consider the fact that more trash for community workers to pick up usually means more tax dollars that you have to spend.

Some people prefer to use commercially-prepared mulches, plastic liners or even stones for landscaping. While these do have some benefits and are less likely to sprout weeds than yard trash mulch, they can also have their downfalls. While cedar chips are attractive and aromatic, bear in mind that they are more expensive and can also be difficult to keep moist, providing little benefit for the plants that they are trying to protect. Similar to wood chips, bed liners do help keep weeds to a minimum, but they provide an additional mulch or concealment, in order to prevent the liner from showing through. Additionally, using a plastic liner can be troublesome in areas that have poor drainage problems; the roots receiving too much water, which can actually lead to diseases.

Stones are very attractive to the eye, but looks can be deceiving! Not only are white or colored stones more expensive than an organic mulch, but they also fail to retain water and, in fact, can draw heat (ever notice how lizards like to come out and lay on the stones, to bask themselves in the sun?). What you might have thought to be an eye-pleasing benefit to your landscape, might actually be baking the very plants that you sought to protect.

Bear in mind that mulch should never be more than 2-3 inches deep, once the material has settled and, if you are using organic mulch such as grass clippings or leaves, never go beyond 2 inches thick. Organic mulches, especially from your yard, tend to mat down easily and can cause more harm than good, if you pile it on too thickly. Maintaining your mulch around 2 inches should always give you a good effective covering, without risk of suffering the plants or preventing percolation of the soil.

Around any landscaping bed, you should always consider some form of barrier or edging. Florida rains tend to come suddenly, dumping large amounts of water in a short period of time and quickly destroying unprotected beds. Well-intended mulch, topsoil, and fertilizers are quickly washed away which leaves the plants vulnerable. This can be especially harmful when one considers that the ground becomes very hard and water-resistant during the dry spells. Even when Mother Nature decides to dump a large amount of rain during a quick storm, chances are that a good portion of that rain will fail to soak into the soil and will, instead, stream off towards lower ground. Whether it is decorative cement bricks or plastic edging that you use around your beds, chances are that it will help retain some of the water run-off, giving it more time to soak into the soil, as well as preventing it from carrying half the soil away with it.

Florida landscapes can be designed for artistic appearance, to attract birds and local wildlife, or can be designed for ease of maintenance. Depending on your preference, a trip to the local library or a little bit of computer research is sure to point out the plants that are ideal for your needs, once you've taken the environment, the soil, and the care you wish to put into upkeep into your landscaping. Using these helpful hints, you've definitely started down the right path, to developing your own beautiful Florida retreat.

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