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Planting a Florida Xeriscape Garden

Citrus Trees, Florida State Parks, Wood Chips, Xeriscape

There is nothing quite as beautiful and exotic as a Florida garden. For many people, plants that grow well in Florida provide a glimpse to what they might expect to see if they were to travel to Hawaii. Flowering bushes like hibiscus and jasmine dot the landscape surrounded by green grass, but these bushes can be easily integrated into a xeriscape garden which requires minimal watering.

As with any other garden, a xeriscaped Florida garden should first be planned using a pencil and paper. Sketch out the front and back yard of your property, designating how much grass if not all that you want to remove. You might decide to leave just a strip of grass surrounding the entire garden, with the inside being a layer of wood chips and marble stones. Or you might want to eliminate the lawn completely, which would cut down on water use and of course weekly lawn cutting. In the sketch, map out the locations where you want to plant flowers, shrubs, and any palm trees. Allow for enough space between flowers and shrubs in your sketch. As a rule, xeriscaped gardens are more spacious than other gardens which requires less use of water for each plant. The one thing you want to avoid doing in your xeriscaped garden is crowding a lot of plants together. Plants need space to breathe, as do their roots. If you decide to plant smaller flowers in a group, allow at least 6 to 8″ between each plant.

Prepare the soil before planting any flowers. Florida soil tends to be sandy, sometimes with seashells blended in. The calcium from the shells is good for some plants so you will want to leave those in. You can mix topsoil and mulch in with the natural soil to enrich it. Make sure the soil is well drained prior to planting your selected flowers and shrubs.

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Grass pink orchid, vinca, spiderwort, gazanias, and plumbago are just a few of these smaller plants that look beautiful in a small group. Flowering shrubs like jasmine and hibiscus can be strategically placed in your garden. Other flowers that you can add include: Mexican petunias, passion flowers, and wandering Jew. Fruit trees can also add the perfect contrast. Citrus trees such as lemon or lime can be added to the garden. A blackberry bush can also be planted, as this popular fruit can be seen growing wild in Florida state parks. Lastly, a beauty bush will provide a burst of color with its clusters of bright purple berries.

Once you have your plants and bushes in the ground, you can lay a variety of ground coverings to complete the xeriscape. Wood chips are most common, but marble chips and seashells can be used, too. You can even use a combination of all three. Surround a single hibiscus bush with seashells and lay woodchips around the exterior. If you want to make a path in the garden, use marble chips for the path instead of flat stones.

Your xeriscaped garden may have a border to keep the wood chips in place or may be left borderless. Rocks are hard to come by naturally in Florida, but you can use chunks of coral or large shells to create a border in the garden. Once your garden is complete, you can add a birdbath for a final touch. A xeriscaped garden is not completely without water, especially for one that attracts birds and butterflies.




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