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Whether you are working in the front yard or backyard landscape, I can help you decide which style of landscaping is best for you.

Florida friendly:

Florida friendly landscapes are an extension of the native landscape theme. This theme includes not only native plants but also plants that are non invasive. This is the key, non invasive non native plants. Non invasive non native plants are those that do not propagate profusely, spread into wild areas, and displace native plant material and by extension wildlife.

By utilizing this category of landscape design, your plant material selection greatly expands. Many of these plants are super tough and provide much needed contrast in landscapes that must meet the needs of contemporary urban landscape expectations.

Some popular selections in this category include (left to right) liriope muscari (asian origin), chinese fringe bush (or loropetalum), Texas sage, African iris, and camelia japonica.  These and other Florida friendly plants are from around the world and have been selected for use in the landscape for thier ornamental quality and non invasive properties. 


Native landscapes consist of plant material that exists naturally in Florida's ecosystems. These plants survive in the wild without any inputs from humans so naturally, many people think they will do the same in an urban landscape setting. This is a common misconception. The urban landscape is not like the wild environment these plants are accustomed to. And the aesthetic appearance of these plants in a wild setting may not be what a homeowner expects to occur in his landscape.

So it reasons to believe that most native plants and arrangements based on them will require some measure of care to thrive in the landscape. This would include supplemental irrigation, trimming, weed control, mulch, and perhaps occasional fertilization with an organic.

This is a great way to landscape and pictured below are some good selections.


Contemporary or turf dominant

There are numerous themes for landscape design. The most recognizable is the formal design that we currently see in most neighborhoods. These designs are turf dominant, have rows or masses of clippered hedges or shrubs in layers, and accents or focal points at strategic locations. Most folks think these landscapes are very attractive.  Most often they consist of St. Augustine, require regular intervals of mowing, irrigation, fertilization, pest and disease control. When properly maintained they do look neat and well maintained.  Two examples are pictured below.

No irrigation

This is a question I get a lot. Is this possible? Well, that depends on many factors. You could say that it is possible. Plant selection is the key. Also, a lower standard of performance must also be kept in mind. Site conditions come into play, as well as establishment procedures. I know how to accomplish this and which plants to use, but there are some things you should know.

Water is the number one limiting factor in plant growth. Plants that do not require supplemental irrigation to survive may not perform as well as those plants that receive some water during drought periods. Also, these plants are opportunistic water users making use of rain water when available, a survival technique. So that means you'll have to adjust your growth rate expectations to be more in rhythm with the seasons.

Some plants that can take the water deprivation include bromeliads and sabal minor palms.

Drought tolerant or water wise

These are plants that can survive extended periods without water, but must have it to survive in drought periods. Typically they can go 7 - 10 days without water. Some sort of system must be in place to provide this. If you think about it, going from watering your St. Augustine lawn twice per week or more to watering 3 or 4 times per month is a significant savings.

If you expand your theme from no irrigation to drought tolerant, you will also include this category of plants in addition to those that do not need irrigation once established.  Then you will open up your plant selection to include many of the plants shown above in the Florida friendly section.

Xeric & rock

Please click >here< to read more about a xeric theme


A tropical landscape consists of lush plants with larger leaves and flowers that love wet condtions. In terms of climate, the tropical portion of the state is South Florida. Central Florida is sub-tropical and because of the occasional dip into freezing temperatures and frequent dry spells, tropical plant use in a water wise landscape design is limited. Many freeze back to roots and either die or come back the next year from the roots.   Still others have varying degrees of survival when freezing temps hit, once they are mature.

Tropical plants used in the landscape should be grouped together based on their water needs. That way you can dedicate one zone to these plants and provide the extra water only they need to survive. This is called hydrozoning.  Pictured below are two popular tropicals:  Peace lily and Bird of paradise.


If you have the large expansive oaks, majestic magnolias, and other large trees on your property, count yourself lucky. Many people struggle with plants in shade.  They may not thrive and many die from disease.

Plant selection for shady conditions will dictate success as will installation, establishment, and irrigation procedures.  Shown below are a few of my favorite shade plants.


We could consider edible landscapes to be a return on investment. What I mean is that dollars invested now in fruit trees, gardens, and herbs will give you a return that you can put on the dinner table.

You can integrate edible selections into a contemporary design or dedicate a large portion of the landscape to edible plants and trees. Attractive ornamental plants can be integrated so that the view from the road is still neat and tidy. Then, as you make your way into the yard an edible design becomes apparent.


Landscape design for wildlife attraction is a foundational element in our approach to landscaping.

Supporting our local fauna is an important aspect of Earthwise Landscape Principles.

The Federal Government recently published information regarding growing concerns about honey bee populations:

We can do our part by planting shrubs they can use.  Unless you are allergic, these bees are pretty harmless.

Attracting bird, butterflies, and hummingbirds are all part of wildlife landscaping.

Learn more by contacting us today to schedule a landscape planning consultation.

No turf and ground cover applications

When replacing sod we should carefully consider the viability of Turfgrass in the landscape

There are many things to consider and we take the time to walk you through the options

Often times using a groundcover in areas where turf has never done well can be a viable solution

  • But what type of ground cover is best?
  • How do you get it to grow?
  • How do you water it? Same as turf?
  • How do you keep it looking good?
  • Will it be green all year long?

These are just a few of the questions we ask when selecting a ground cover option.

I am skilled in designing, installing, establishing, and maintaining any type of theme shown here.

Updated 04/30/2020 @ 9:21AM

Scott Simpson, Earthwise

©Copyright Earthwise Horticultural Services


Project Collaboration

Landscape Design video walkthrough Xeriscape for Florida Landscapes

This plan is for an interactive backyard filled with edibles, Xeriscape influence.

Case 092 design features:

  • Raised bed edible garden
  • Water Feature for pleasant sound
  • Outdoor family dining table
  • Fire pit for evening atmosphere
  • Pergola to escape the sun
  • Hammock for those lazy days
  • Edible trees and ornamentals
  • Wildlife plants for butterflies and birds
  • Golden Goddess bamboo for privacy
  • Outdoor shower to cool off
  • No lawn to mow

What is your ideal backyard?

This plan is for a Key West tropical paradise

Case 088 design features:

  • Poolside living area
  • Rock beds extend off pool deck
  • Fire pit area in rock bed
  • Loose pebble path out to shade seating
  • Clear view of sunset through the palms
  • Plant selections to give a tropical feel
  • Flowers throughout the year
  • Foliage plants for contrast
  • Efficient irrigation system adapted to the design
  • No lawn to mow

What is your dream landscape?

Featured Projects

Design Library

Wildlife Landscapes

Landscape Styles

Landscape design video walkthrough

This plan is for a simple modern style front yard and an edible garden in the backyard


This plan is for a corner lot front yard with succession flowering tropical and traditional themes combined case 183


This plan is for a Florida friendly backyard poolside wildlife garden case 304