Natural Florida Landscaping

Natural FloridaMy lawn is a mess. If it’s not the drought–its too much rain. The bugs, the weeds, the bare spots in the grass, living near Florida’s coast just doesn’t seem to make for a nice, livable yard. That is unless, you change the way you think about it. Natural Florida Landscaping, by Dan Walton and Laurel Schiller, is a great little book that explains the cause of many of my landscaping woes.

When we built our home, the builder touted that “everything was included”. The sprinkler system and landscaping all came with the deal. Yet, a few years later, we really have to work at it to keep the those pesky homeowner association letters at bay. A new book by Pineapple Press is finally helping me see why.

Before my neighborhood was built nature thrived here. Why is it impossible to keep my yard looking good? Dan and Laurel tell me it’s all about the plants most communities try to grow. Florida can be a harsh environment. Rain or the lack of, constant sunshine and sub tropical critters and weeds are more than most plants can endure. We’re trying to replace what took a zillion years to grow here with the notion of an English garden. And it just doesn’t work, or it takes too much effort, water and fertilizer.

Natural Florida Landscaping

The answer is natural. The book’s intro tells us…

As land is developed in Florida the native flora is removed and usually replaced with non-native vegetation. Wildlife habitat is reduced, water, fertilizer and pesticide usage increases, and the appearance of Florida is altered. But urban and suburban dwellers can reduce the damage being done to our ecosystems by viewing their yards as part of the natural system. This means using native plants and doing it in a way more attuned to natural places.

If you ever get outdoors, you can really start to see how diverse Florida is. Visit a local park and see which plants thrive. Now you start to get the picture.

A great suggestion in the book is to reduce the amount of grass you have. By replacing grass with trees and shrubs you can create a canopy or areas that create shade and keep water in. Mulching in large areas, using ground covers and shrubs not only livens up the yard, it creates habitat for birds, butterflies and happy little critters.

The authors note that…

“Our objective in this book is to show how you can create a native plant–filled yard that is naturalistic and can be maintained in an environmentally sensitive way.

This small book will help you make a plan that will work for your yard and choose the native plants that will thrive there with minimal care. You will have the joy of creating an aesthetically pleasing, life-supporting, and environmentally sensitive landscape. “

This book helped me realize there is a better way to manage your outdoors. Far from being alone, the authors show you all sorts of ways to change your yard. They include a great guide on plants to use within your region and point you to resources like local nurseries and designers who can help you find the right stuff for where you live.

For a great guide to rethinking your yard visit

And here are a few other articles we’ve posted that relate.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping
Protecting Your Share