After losing their trees in last year's hurricanes, these folks opted for a complete makeover. The huge advantage to having a landscaping company come in and install it is that it's done in two days. I'll give you some cautions and considerations if you’re thinking about installing your own instant landscape.
Before the new plants arrive, the yard was graded. A ridge installed along the road will provide for more interest and a little privacy, but drainage could be a problem in a gully-washer rainfall. I hope a French drain was installed at the front of house to channel the excess storm water to the lake behind the house.
The plants look pretty upon arrival
Because the landscape company is looking for instantaneous beauty, plants that look good at the time of installation are favored. This may leave some gaps in interest throughout the year. Ask the question about year-round displays. Another potential problem is that trees, shrubs, and perennials may be planted too close together. Ask about the eventual size and growing habits of each plant and plan for the future.
First, the landscape guys spray painted the outlines of the gardens and put the sod in place. They then moved the one existing Sago (Cycas revoluta) to the top of the ridge. This location makes for a better anchor on that corner of the garden. The potted bedding plants were then set in their proposed planting sites. The owner was consulted before they were planted. I like the undulating pattern of the bed—much more interesting than a straight edge, but think about the mowing and maintenance. Don’t make it too hard to care for.
Here is the plant list:
· Liriope (Liriope
muscari `Variegata') Asia - As discussed in my French
drain article, this hardy evergreen member of the lily family is normally
planted as a border.
· Indian hawthorn
indica) Asia - Widely planted around here and shaped into hedges
or gumdrops. It does have berries that the birds like.
Notice anything? Yep, nothing, except for the grass, is native. Several native species could have been chosen. I realize that the nursery business is difficult, especially with the probable guarantees made for everything to live a year. Safe, reliable, and abundant stock is the prudent business decision, but is is best for your needs?
It is up to us, as gardeners, to provide diversity
Here's something else to consider. These plants (and a few others) are so widely planted around here that the whole region is losing its diversity. As native habitat is lost because of development or due to invasive aliens, it it up to us, as gardeners, to provide greenways on our property and diversity in our gardens.
More on possible native plant choices in the next column.
(Update: This landscaping job only lasted a few years before it was entirely replaced again. This time they installed a pervious driveway and a drainage system--the instant landscape design directed all excess water into their house!)
Ginny Stibolt would like to hear from readers who have suggestions and questions. After all, there are more than a few transplanted gardeners Florida trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t in planting zone 8/9. She's wrote, "Sustainable Gardening for Florida," published by University Press of Florida that was released in 2009. Now she's written "Organic Methods for Growing Vegetables in Florida" with Melissa Contreras in Miami. The new book will be release in Feb 2013. You may contact her or read extra details on her articles and other information posted on her website: www.greengardeningmatters.com.