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Your Guide to South Florida Landscaping

June 24, 2020

If you own a home in South Florida, beautifying your landscape can increase curb appeal and provide you with peaceful surroundings. When it comes to adorning the exterior of your home with ornamental plants, there are many things you need to take into consideration before choosing your favorite flowers, bushes, fruit-bearing trees, and more.

Although we get a lot of sunshine and rain in our subtropical region, not all plants can grow properly around the foundation of your home or around your lawn. Even worse, many non-native or invasive plants can damage your landscaping and attract harmful pests—which could lead to costly plant replacements or treatments.

At Nozzle Nolen, we know you may feel like a kid in a candy store when browsing plant selections at your local nursery. However, to save you time, money, and the stress of planting something around your property that won’t flourish, we wanted to give you an in-depth look at how to approach designing a landscape that’s beautiful and beneficial to your environment.

From understanding what types of plants will thrive in your area to discovering how we can help beautify your landscaping, we hope to make your South Florida landscaping project simple, stress-free, and pest-free all year long.

South Florida Landscaping with Purpose

No matter if you’re a snowbird or a full-time South Florida resident, starting your landscaping project is often the most difficult part. From envisioning what you want your property to look like to understanding what plants will thrive in certain areas, there’s a lot more that goes into gardening than just picking a pretty plant and placing it wherever it looks best.

Creating a Mental (or Digital) Image

an overview of a Florida home showing where landscaping could be placed

To start your home landscaping project, it’s best to have a vision in place prior to heading to the nursery. Take a close look at the front and back of your home and identify what areas you’d like to plant in. Consider drawing a two-dimensional sketch of the area and outline the flow or pattern you want your landscaping beds to take.

If you are planning to use mulch—such as pine bark, cypress mulch, or sterilized melaleuca—make sure to measure the square footage of each plant bed so you can purchase the appropriate amount. As a general rule of thumb, two to three inches of mulch will do the trick.

Rather than planning out your South Florida landscape the old-fashioned way, the University of Florida and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program have developed an interactive property map that allows you to build a landscape from the ground up on your computer. This interactive yard will walk you through the steps needed to turn a turf-dominated lawn into a beautiful landscape—showing you where native greenery and flowers can be planted to ensure that little to no irrigation or fertilization is required.

Choosing Native Plants

The most important part of designing your South Florida landscape is choosing the right ornamental plants. To do so, make your selections from a list of native flora, as these low-maintenance plants are hearty and flourish under many natural conditions in our area. Additionally, native plants are beneficial to the surrounding ecosystem, as they attract important pollinators and non-invasive wildlife. 


Native shrubs are highly versatile, as you can plant them in many places around your home for a great look. Often, taller shrub varieties can be used as privacy barriers between neighbors or along driveways, walking paths, or pools. A few time-tested native shrub recommendations include:

  • Encore Azaleas
  • Garden Croton
  • Gardenia
  • Wax Myrtle


Every South Florida landscape needs trees, especially trees or palms that create shaded areas for relaxing away from the hot sun. Native trees to South Florida can easily be mixed and matched for a truly breathtaking property. Plus, unlike non-native plants, these native trees have built immunities to diseases and local pests, making them more resilient and less work to maintain. Tropical trees and palms you could easily plant in your landscape include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Little Gem Magnolia
  • Muscogee Crape Myrtle
  • Royal Empress
  • Sago Palm
  • Red Maple
  • Live Oak
  • Bald Cypress
  • Gumbo-Limbo
  • Saw Palmetto

Citrus & Fruit Trees

Fruit-bearing trees aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but they also provide you and your family with a direct food source right in your back or front yard. However, these trees need full sunlight all day long, as well as ample space between other trees or plants to ensure their roots absorb enough nutrients to produce fruit. Some food-producing trees you can plant in your landscape include:

  • Avocado
  • Brown Turkey Fig
  • Bananas
  • Loquat
  • Key Lime
  • Meyer Lemon
  • Moro Blood Orange
  • Nagami Kumquat
  • Nules Clementine
  • Santa Rosa Plum


From annuals to perennials, there is a wide selection of native flowers you can plant around your landscape to give it a pop of color. Just make sure you’re paying close attention to the types of soil they need, the amount of sunlight or shade they require, and how often they need to be watered. A few South Florida native flower favorites include:

  • Weeping Lantana
  • Blanket Flower
  • Beach sunflower
  • Canna Lily
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Blue Flag Iris
  • Wild Sage
  • Porterweed

Putting Plants in Their Proper Place

an illustration of a woman in Florida in her backyard planting new bushes

Although native plants are adapted to grow in our region, it’s still important to understand where they will thrive in your yard. Putting your plants in the right place is key to making sure they survive and stay healthy in your lawn. By simply choosing the right place to plant, you’ll reduce the need for watering, pruning, fertilizing, and using pesticides to protect your plants from harmful insects.

Understanding sunlight patterns, soil types, and water conditions around your property is crucial for proper gardening, so make sure you are following plant growth guidelines (normally located on plant tags included with your plant purchase). With the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Plant Database, you can discover what native trees, palms, shrubs, flowers, groundcovers, grasses, and vines are perfect for growing in different areas of your landscape. In addition, you can also utilize their interactive yard to determine proper planting places around different areas of your property.

The Importance of Avoiding Monocultures

Identified as a single plant residing in one area, monocultures are easy to understand when you think of farmers and their crops. For example, if a farmer has a plot of land that only features corn, this would be considered a monoculture. Monocultures aren’t something that exist just on a large scale, though, as turf lawns or rose gardens would be considered monocultures.

When our South Florida landscapes or garden boxes become monocultures, some serious problems can arise. Injurious insects or plant diseases can run rampant more easily and local pollinators or wildlife can be left to starve or move. This is especially true if your landscaping features non-native flora, different plants from the same family, plants that need more moisture than what local rainfall provides, or high-maintenance plants that require chemical fertilizers.

To avoid monocultures in your landscape, try to select native plants from a variety of families. Not only will this allow your plants to grow and coexist, but it will help local pollinators and non-invasive wildlife thrive in your area.

Ornamental Tree and Shrub Care from Nozzle Nolen

Choosing a diverse range of native flora for your landscape will allow plants to coexist peacefully and reduce your chances of dealing with diseases or damaging pests. However, certain injurious insects will be attracted to your ornamental foliage or trees. A few common ornamental plant and tree pests include:

  • Whiteflies
  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Sri Lanka weevils
  • Psyllids
  • Worms
  • Caterpillars
  • Mites
  • Soft scales
  • Mealybugs

At Nozzle Nolen, our diverse range of lawn care services can ensure your ornamentals and trees are protected from damaging insects. Through systemic root injection (not used on fruit- or nut-bearing trees), our lawn care technicians can ensure your plants are fertilized from the ground up while eliminating injurious insects that feed on them.

Call Nozzle Nolen to Beautify Your South Florida Landscape

an illustration of a Nozzle Nolen technician who's performing an inspection on a South Florida home's lawn

From choosing native plants to understanding the best areas around your property to plant them, starting your South Florida landscape is easy with this guide. Plus, to help you go one step further to keep your ornamental plants beautiful all year round, the lawn care professionals at Nozzle Nolen are here to help you keep your plants fertilized and injurious pests far away. Get in touch with Nozzle Nolen today to schedule your free inspection.


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