Thursday, March 18, 2010

Looking for Space

My Florida Backyard took another step this week toward the goal of eliminating as much boring, fairly useless grass from our front lawn as possible. This gives us more room for interesting plants that can attract wildlife and, quite frankly, look much better than patchy grass.

To that end, we decided to expand the front garden from two arcs:

Into one big arc:

Now the tantalizing question remains... what to plant in all the new space? We already have a lot of fountain grass and muhly grass lining the walkways, with plumbago bushes on the right side and beach sunflower under the tree. We'd like to continue with more yellows, purples, and blues - we do have some Blazing Star (liatris) bulbs to scatter throughout the new and old beds, so their purple should mix nicely with the purples of the muhly grass in the fall.

Any suggestions? Bear in mind that we have some pretty firm rules about not using supplemental irrigation once a plant is established... it needs to survive on the rain Mother Nature provides (or doesn't). This area faces southwest and gets lots of sun in the hottest part of summer. We'd like some low plants along the edge in front, and higher plants or even a shrub in the middle. We prefer native plants, though we're flexible as long as they're Florida-Friendly, and we really don't like to have to do a lot of maintenance in the front yard. Now, with all these thoughts in mind, what should we put in our newly-expanded garden?


  1. Bulbine likes sun and neglect, it has orange flowers which would blend with the yellows you have. Pineapple guava could be a nice shrub for you. I just bought one and haven't had any experience with it blooming yet, but I'm hoping. Both these plants are cold hardy. I like what you're doing with your space. I'm going to be expanding some more too. My "grass" just isn't that lovely.

  2. I want to eventually replace half of the lawn with groundcovers for a lusher look too.
    I would recommend liriope spicata for a uniform grassy groundcover thats evergreen in hard freezes but NanaK is right about bulbine. Mine didn't do well since my dog trampled on it though. I would recommend agapanthus, as its very tough and yet tropical looking. Since bulbine and lily of the nile are both from south africa, why not include other sun loving groundcovers from the region like strelitzia, eucomis, society garlic and plumbago? The nerine and strelitzias oranges would look great against the blues and purples of the other plants.
    Also, I agree that pineapple guava is great, but you need to water it a lot to get it established.