Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Hybrid Design with Natives

Some folks continue to think indigenous (native) plants mean “dead,” brown, or sparse…As a Landscape Architect, I Design with natives, to show their “kinder, gentler” side, truly pertinent to their “Tropical” flair and deceptively-simply nature of requiring less water for irrigation, less fertilizer/pesticide, and attracting more fauna (think birds and butterflies).  The Client wanted a partial renovation, meaning some plantings had to stay; thus, the Design buffers, softens, and breaks up the preceding monotony of shell, non-native/clipped groundcovers, and provides additional variety.  The plantings used are more “Coastal” in nature, thus, select these carefully based upon your particular site, applicable to frost/cold damage.
The existing view

The existing roadway had some bromeliads, “rock droppings,” and other bizarre planting combinations – thus, “Unity” and “Buffering” were accomplished by using multiples and/or lines of species, such as Dune Sunflower, Sunshine Mimosa, Green Saw Palmetto, and Silver Buttonwood.  Snails were a huge concern; otherwise, the understory was primed for Peperomia (Not shown, but another killer, tropical native groundcover to consider [most commonly used in pots, indoors]).
Existing view with Silver Buttonwood, Dune Sunflower, and  Sunshine Mimosa
Here's what Dune Sunflower, combined with non-native Bromeliads, can do for you!
The use of Sunshine Mimosa added to the coverage of the mass of Shell
As a frontage to thinning Podocarpus, Green Saw Palmetto adds texture, variety, and performs well in dappled light
The other frontage had no textural variety; thus, Silver Saw Palmetto, Green Saw Palmetto, Thrinax Palm, and Fakahatchee Grass were used to fit the bill.  In addition, Dune Sunflower, Sunshine Mimosa, and Silver Buttonwood were “carried over” from the previous Design area, to provide property continuity, color, and provide additional scale.
Step one was to remove the green rock
Step two involved the use of strategic buffering and native plant placement 
Fakahatchee Grass is great large, scale variety to consider, in this case, used to "break" the visual line of the drive (Sunshine Mimosa is in front)
Here's what a row of Silver Buttonwoods can do for you! Note the native groundcovers/grasses planted toward the road
Silver Saw Palmetto provides a contrast to the existing green, non-native varieties
The frontage, when viewed from the opposing direction, is scaled  through the use of Fakahatchee Grass, provides for less maintenance, and is in marked contrast to the Floratam Sod frontages and swales of other homes on the street
The textures "combine," providing to a more suitable setting for the Panther sculpture - silver is  used to "bring the eye in," toward the center of the drive entries
When planning or renovating your yard, don’t forget the incredible selection of native plants, especially their color, variety, and bloom types.  The Firebush (not shown) was also used in the design but still need another month or so to grow/fill behind the Fakahatchee grass (providing for another contrast in texture/color) – this plant is an incredible attractor of hummingbirds and butterflies, including the Zebrawing.  In addition, other areas of the yard, saw Zoysia grass replaced with Sunshine Mimosa, furthering the demand for less water/irrigation, adding to botanic diversity, and providing for color, where sod cannot.  Enjoy!

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