In the garden

Landscape designers can help you prune your yard plan into shape


What to plant

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden recommends these plants, which are well-adapted to South Florida and are proven workhorses of the garden.

Myrtle-of-the-River: Native tree has a columnar growth habit and makes a good informal hedge. It can grow to 20 feet and does best in full sun.

Wild Cinnamon: Native tree has red flowers in summer and fall, a columnar growth habit and can reach 30 feet. It is slow-growing and works well as a screen.

Jamaican Caper: Native will reach 20 feet and tends to be columnar. It is extremely flexible and resistant to hurricane winds. It can take light shade or full sun.

Silver Buttonwood: Native is extremely salt-tolerant. It can reach 20 feet and can be used as a hedge or small tree.

White stopper: Native, best known for earthy aroma of its leaves, can reach 25 feet and tends to be columnar. Can grow in partial shade and is extremely salt-tolerant.

Redberry stopper: Handsome native will attract native birds. Can reach 20 feet with a spread of about five to six feet.

Spanish stopper: Grows at a moderate rate and will reach 20 feet. An excellent substitute for the hedge plant Ficus benjamina and extremely salt-tolerant.

Red stopper: Native has a smooth, mottled, brown to gray trunk. Can reach 20 feet and does well in small spaces. Can be used as a screen.

Lignum Vitae: Native can get very large, but is so slow-growing that it is considered a small to medium-sized tree. Should be used as a 10- to 15-foot specimen planting.

Firebush: One of the best native plants in South Florida. Small, red tubular flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The 15-foot tree is highly manageable through pruning and can be kept as a four- to five-foot shrub.

Black Ironwood: Handsome native, known for its extremely dense wood, is slow-growing and can reach 30 feet. Leaves are glossy and contrast nicely with its dark bark.

Simpson stopper: Beautiful native found in hardwood hammocks. Columnar, can reach 20 feet.

Allspice: Attractive tree with dark green, ribbed leaves and a peeling bark. Its outstanding feature is the smell of the allspice leaf when crushed.

West Indian Cherry: Native is fast-growing and excellent as a screen. Leaves are glossy and fruit is much prized by many species of birds.

Florida Boxwood: A native that is underused. Small white flowers produce fruit that attract several species of birds. Growth rate is moderate, and the plant can reach 20 feet with a width of 10 feet.

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Never underestimate the value of professional landscape designers. Trained to know what plants work best and what designs function best, they can save you time, money and heartache.

“There is much more to landscaping than popping shrubs around a house,” says Peggy Krapf, a member of the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers. “Good landscaping has a real artistic component — integrating architecture, plants and functionality — similar to interior decorating.”

Here’s what she and two other landscape designers say about good garden design:


“I love to bring the architecture of the house into the garden.”

“Connecting them with fencing is a wonderful way to enclose the garden — making it feel like an extension of the house. Be sure to use compatible materials and colors in the outdoor spaces. If your home has a brick foundation, be sure to choose a matching or blending color for walks and pathways. Pick out paint colors for fencing, furniture and sheds that echo the accent or trim colors on the house. Choose a favorite flower color and repeat it around the garden for a cohesive look.”

— Peggy Krapf of Heart’s Ease Landscape and Garden Design in Williamsburg, Va..


“Develop a plan, make your wish list, set your budget, know the local climate and imagine how you will use the space.

“Also, consider maintenance. Do you enjoy the garden? How much time do you have to spend?

“Do not restrict your landscape to only plants. Decks and patios transition your home from the inside out. If you have a patio, consider a pergola or arbor. If you have a garden path, consider a gate. This adds another unique piece to your garden design.”

— Eric Bailey of Landscapes by Eric Bailey in Newport News, Va.


“Always stand at the curb in front of your home and look at any issues that steal attention from the front door. Block unattractive neighboring views with trees and shrubs to keep the eye on your property. Hide trash and recycle cans from view.

“Always consider the colors and architectural design style of the house when choosing plants, flowers, paving materials and pots for front yards. Ideally, paving materials should reflect the same color as the roof.

“Placing a tree between the curb and the house gives a sense of added depth to the front yard.

“Keep your house numbers and front porch well lit, visible and clean because this is the first place an arriving guest will see. Keep shrubs well below windows and clear from paths to avoid an unmaintained look.

— Tami Eilers of McDonald Garden Center in Hampton, Va.

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