Archives for June 2023

HS2: One million cubic metres of chalk from Chiltern tunnels used for landscaping

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Landscape Design

Planning your garden design and browsing the potential plants to install is a fun endeavor. However, many people often wonder why their finished design isn’t quite what they envisioned. There are 3 very common mistakes that home designers make that can result in a landscape gone awry.

Colors and Styles

There are some colors that just don’t work well together and have a jarring effect on the eyes. The flower colors you choose to plant near your home can be overwhelming or give you a washed-out looking landscape. Examples would be a red brick home flanked by purple, red or lavender flowers, or a white house surrounded by white or beige flowers.

The same is true for the types of flowers you plant in relation to the style of home you have. The clean lines of modern style gardens would look completely out of place against a home with a classic architectural design.

Sparse Flower Beds

Many people begin with good intentions, only to discover their budget didn’t extend to all the plants they wanted to install. To make up for that, they often purchase fewer flowers and plant them further apart. The appearance is one of an anemic flower bed.

This type of planting in an open invitation for weeds to take over the bed. To counter weed growth, individuals often mulch the bed in the mistaken belief that it will be low maintenance. Instead, what they have is a mulch garden, reminiscent of a commercial landscape.

Even Numbered Plants

If you want to highlight a specific feature, such as a doorway, install a plant on either side of the entrance. Garden design for flower beds doesn’t work that way. An uneven number of plants invites the eye to wander and rove throughout the entire design. Groupings of 3 to 11 plants tend to work best. You’ll also need to avoid installing them in rows that are precision planned and overly straight.

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Summer Landscape Tips You Cannot Miss

Summer gardening requires proper preparation. Debris, dead plants and weeds should be removed. Apply much before the heat of summer. Some trees will need to be trimmed, while flowers may need to be deadheaded or cut back. Fertilizing will need to be performed during early spring.

Hardiness Zone

Long-time South Florida residents have a good grasp of what will grow well in the subtropical climate and their maintenance needs. Those new to the region will be well-advised to conduct some research before installing any type of plants, shrubs or trees. Some are highly invasive, some won’t grow well at all, and others provide much-needed sources of food for pollinators.

Soil Composition

Your soil may have been amended to provide more fertile ground for a variety of plants. That process may need to be performed for the first time or renewed. South Florida soils can be comprised of clay, sand, loam, or a combination of those.

Use Native Plants

A wide variety of flowering plants, vines, bushes, and trees are well adapted to the South Florida climate. They provide a rainbow of color in the landscape and a source of nectar and pollen for native pollinator species. You can also choose to plant some of the native species that are on the endangered list to help preserve them.


A myriad of groundcovers are available that provide colorful blossoms and are great for areas where nothing else seems to want to grow. They have the added benefit of suppressing weed growth.

Tree Trimming

To maintain the shape and health of trees, keep them pruned and trimmed. Remove dead or damaged branches and remove trees that have becomes a hazard. Have nuts from tall palms professionally removed. Keeping trees maintained will also lessen the potential damage to homes and outbuildings during storms.


South Florida typically receives enough rainfall for plants to grow well, but the area does experience dry spells and even droughts. If watering by hand, do so doing cool evening hours to minimize evaporation.

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Westport RTM again eyeing leaf blower restrictions

Keeping Your Lawn Healthy in the Summer

Summer is a time for outdoor activities with family and friends and you want a lush, green carpet upon which to recreate. Maintaining lawn health in summer can be problematic for homeowners due to the hot and humid weather conditions. It’s a balancing act that can keep homeowners on their toes.

Regular Mowing

It’s critical to understand that different grass species have different mowing requirements. Some are best kept at 1.5 to 2 inches. Others, such as Bermuda grass, thrives when maintained at .5 to 1.5 inches and St. Augustine grass is happy at 3.5 to 4 inches.

Take no more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blades when you mow, never mow when the grass is wet, and always keep mower blades sharp. It ensures the grass is cut instead of ripped and torn, which opens the lawn to disease and insect pests. To avoid creating ruts and areas of uneven height and growth, it’s best to alternate the direction you mow each time.


Applying fertilizer should be done in the spring to supply lawns with the nutrients they need during the summer growing season. Fertilizing during the summer months is irresponsible and there are bans against applying fertilizer during certain months. Frequent rains wash it into waterways. It contaminates drinking water and creates a toxic runoff that can spawn algae blooms.


South Florida typically receives sufficient rainfall for lawns to thrive. However, there have been dry spells and the state has also experienced times of drought. Lawns need about ½ to ¾ of an inch of rain per week, depending upon the species that’s planted. If no rainfall is in the forecast, you’ll need to water. If you’re watering by hand rather than a programmable irrigation system, always water during cool, evening hours.

To save money when you need to water, you may want to consider rainwater harvesting. It prevents pooling and puddling, enhances drainage, limits runoff, and provides an alternative source of moisture if watering bans are enacted.

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Outdoor Design Ideas with Native Florida Plants

The allure of planting vividly colored annual plants can be strong. The problem is that they often don’t do well if there’s any flooding and a drought will elevate your water bill keeping them watered. The solution is installing native Florida flowers that are adapted to survive, and even thrive, in the South Florida conditions. An added bonus is that they require less maintenance.

Black-eye Susan

Salt and drought resistant, it’s a tough wildflower that has a brown center and petals that can be red, yellow or orange.

Beach Sunflower

It likes hot, dry conditions and doesn’t mind coastal areas. It attracts butterflies and the flowerheads follow the sun as it passes overhead. The blooms are yellow, have brown centers, bloom almost year-round, and self-sows.


Also known as tickseed, it’s a wildflower that sports bright yellow blossoms in spring and summer. It’s drought tolerant and reseeds itself.

Native Orchids

Florida has at least 106 different species of native orchids, with 18 listed as threatened and 58 are endangered. They come in multiple colors and planting them helps preserve native species.


Vivid red or orange tubular flowers grow on stalks and the plant is a member of the coffee family. It can be grown as a bush or small tree. They’re essential to pollinators that includes butterflies and hummingbirds.

Purple Coneflower

Also known as echinacea, it’s an endangered Florida wildflower. They’re characterized by pinkish-purple petals and dark centers.

Star Anise

Commonly associated with Asia, there are several species of the shrub that are native only to Florida. It can grow up to 15 ft. tall, with fragrant pinkish, yellow or white blossoms.

Florida Asters

There are 331 species of asters native to Florida. Many are listed as endangered, with 41 only found in the state.


It’s also known as blanket flower and some studies indicate it was introduced to Florida several centuries ago. The plant made a comfortable home in the state and thrived, providing an excellent source of pollen and nectar for pollinators. Blossoms can be single, double, semi-double or tubular, depending on the species. Blooms are red, yellow or orange.

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