The Essential Steps to Landscape Design

When it comes to designing outdoor spaces, take it one steppingstone at a time.

Start Up Front

If you’re wondering where to start a landscape transformation, look no further than your front yard. It’s the first thing that you see driving up to your house, and you can wow guests before they even enter your home. Just remember that curb appeal is important, but no matter how pretty your landscape is, it needs to be functional.

Handscape First

Do all of your hardscaping projects before you set out any plants. Hardscaping can include a porch, sidewalk, driveway, parking areas, decks, fencing, patios and arbor. These projects usually involve construction, which can compact your soil or damage turf and plantings, so it’s important to complete any heavy work before plantings begin.

Toil in the Soil

When it is time to garden, amend your soil by adding organic matter such as finely shredded pine bark, peat moss, mushroom compost or leaf mold before setting out plants. Loose, fertile soil will encourage root growth on new plantings and allow them to become established quickly. Clearly define your turf and bed lines. First use a garden hose to lay out your bed lines then use orange spray paint to mark the lines.

Plant Next to Your House

Your foundation planting should embrace your house and not cover it. Low-growing shrubs or groundcover should be planted in front of low windows and porches. Larger rounded shrubs or small trees work well planted on the corners of your home. These larger plants will frame up your house and help soften the box-like structure. Remember to create a small bed in your front yard for annual color. Flowers will add instant charm.

Move to the Back

Your backyard should be an outdoor living area to enjoy. If you need privacy, install wooden fencing or large shrubs around the perimeter to create walls. Decks and patios make great sitting or dining areas when the weather’s appropriate and they create nice overflow for guests during parties.

Gather Around the Fire

Grilling stations or outdoor kitchens can be used to cook your meals and not heat up the kitchen. Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are very popular and allow you to enjoy your yard even when there’s a little chill in the air. Both of these options make for easy entertaining or a fun family activity.

Wants and Needs

Consider your options and the space you will need. If you have a sunny backyard you might consider putting in a kitchen garden where you can grow a few herbs or vegetables. Just be sure the are you choose receives several hours of sun. Do you need a children’s play are? If so, position it where you can see it from your deck or patio to keep a watchful eye on the young ones.

A Little on the Side

Side yards are often narrow strips that are rarely seen. They can be a good place to hose your utilitarian needs. Garbage cans, firewood, storage and garden shreds often work well tucked into your side yard. If you have dogs it might be a good place to install a dog run. You’ll probably need a walkway on at least one side of your house so you can easily navigate from the front of the house to the backyard.

Choosing the Right Plants

Before planting anything, study your landscape. See where the sun rises and sets. Some plants love the morning sun but will not tolerate western sun. Consult with a local garden center about the plants that you intend to use and know their needs. Plants that need full sun such as herbs, vegetables, roses and many bedding plants require five or more hours of sunlight, so make sure to design your areas appropriately.

How Big?

Know a tree shrub’s ultimate size before you put it in the ground. A small yard is not a good place for trees such as river birch, red maples, sugar maples, oaks or magnolia. Trees such as Japanese maples, crepe myrtles and redbud would be better suited for little landscapes. Avoid planting brittle trees such as river birch or silver maples next to your house or close to parking areas to avoid damage from falling limbs.

Plant Shape and Textures

Add some design elements to your landscape by playing off the shape and texture of plants. Use fine-textured plants that have small leaves or needles next to bold-textured plants that have large leaves. Upright linear growing plants can be positioned next to round or low-growing plants to create interest.

Finishing Touches

Adding containers, hanging baskets and window boxes is a great way to incorporate a little more color into a landscape. A large planter or grouping of containers placed by your front door will create an inviting entrance. If you have several planters use a common plant or color in each of them for repetition and continuity. Too many colors combined together can become chaotic looking.

Incorporating Your Personality

Add your personal touches to your garden. You can do this with garden art, statues, water features, a birdhouse or architectural fragments. Use low-voltage night lighting ti highlight these items, but also position lights along walkways to make maneuvering after dark easy and safe.


To keep a beautiful landscape, it must be maintained. Keep new plantings watered and mulched. Mulch makes a landscape look finished, but it also helps soil retain moisture and keeps weeds in check. Work on your landscape but it also enjoys it. Your outdoor areas should be an extension of your home. A beautiful and functional landscape makes your house more appealing and will increase is value.

If you are looking to update the exterior of your home, we at Best Landscape Services are there for you. We can make recommendations for what will look great and thrive in our climate. Maybe you are looking to increase your curb appeal to sell your home, we can be at your house in no time to make an estimate and give you some helpful ideas.


Landscaping in Florida: A Season by Season Guide

Landscaping in Florida is easy if you follow some easy to understand methods. That’s because our beautiful climate allows something to grow during every season. With a little planning and some simple tips, the outside of your home can be as inviting as the inside. We will show you how in this complete, season by season, guide. You can make your yard an oasis by following these planting tips as well as using some well-laid pavers, rocks or stones. These can provide some differentiation in your yard as well as complete your patio seating area.

Picking the right plants for our tropical climate

Florida has many transplants. If you began gardening in a cooler climate, you might not be familiar with the wonderful range of pants that grow. Florida has many native plants, and with a little extra care, many more plants thrive here.

Before planting a garden or choosing trees for your home, consider placement. You will need to place larger tree varieties farther from your home. A vegetable garden requires at least six hours of direct sunlight and needs to be near an easy water source. Choose the placement of ornamentals and flowers with an eye for aesthetics and sun conditions.

If you plant drought resistant plants, they will survive better during the dry season. Native plants have evolved to thrive in the unique conditions. Choosing the right plants can save you time and money while still giving you all the benefits of a beautiful yard. The right plants can also attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, which is a benefit to you and the environment.

Fall landscaping in Florida

Fall in Florida is still warm, but it’s a good time to transition from heat hearty plants to more delicate varieties. This is the time of year that Florida goes from the rainy season in the dryer months.

Keep these tips in mind for fall gardening:

Pruning: Although trees don’t tend to lose all their leaves in Florida, it’s a good idea to skip pruning during this season. You should prune most trees in late winter or early spring. And this rule remains true in Florida.

Flower beds: Now is a great time to prepare and spruce up your flower beds. By planting annuals and bulbs that do better on slightly cooler temps, you can have beautiful color through the new year. Remember to separate and replant your perennials. You want to give them enough time to reestablish before the cold snaps hit.

Vegetables and Herbs: Vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, and lettuce should be planted at this time. If you use the same area for your garden throughout the year, pull all the plants after your final summer harvest. Make sure to remove the entire plant-roots and all. Removing the entire plant can help reduce disease and fungal issues. Rotating the area of your garden plots can also help reduce these issues.

Now is also the time to have an outdoor herb garden in Florida. The summer heat has dissipated a bit, but you are unlikely to experience any jacket weather for a few months.

Irrigation: Remember that as the weather cools, your plants need less supplemental watering

Fertilizer: October is a good time to fertilize your lawn. The normal, daily rainstorms have passed by this time, so the rains won’t wash the fertilizer into the waterways where it can harm plant and wildlife. It will stay where you want it: on your lawn and garden. Now is a good time to fertilize citrus trees too.

Winter gardening and the perks of a mild climate

Winter in Florida is not brutal, but you need to prepare your plants.

Covering your plant and flower beds with mulch can be effective for some hardier plants. However, you should be ready to bring cold-sensitive plants into the house or to cover outdoor plants when temperatures drop.

Prepare for cold weather with these tips:

Pruning: You can prune non-spring flowering trees and shrubs in January, January is also a good time to prune your deciduous fruit trees-peach, plum, Asian pear.

Prune roses in the early months of the year. After pruning shrubs and roses, you should fertilize and re-mulch the beds. The new layer of mulch will help maintain moisture and keep the fertilizer where it belongs.

Pruning trees during the dormant, cold season is usually your best practice. Discuss any questions or concerns with a certified arborist if you aren’t sure what your healthy trees need.

Flower beds: Plant annuals that are cold weather tolerant. This includes pansies, snapdragons, and petunias. The cooler winter months are the time to establish bulbous flowers like amaryllis. When planting bulbs outside, make sure to provide a layer of mulch for temperature protection. The bulbs will need routine watering to help them become established.

Vegetables: Many plants will thrive through most of Florida’s winter. You should watch for freezing temperatures and cover your garden beds, but winter is a great time to plant and grow a variety of vegetables.

Many of the vegetable you grow in the fall will continue through the winter. Vegetables to add to the garden in the winter include cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and potato varieties.

In February, you can begin planting seeds for your spring garden. Keep an eye on the seedlings. They will be susceptible to any drops in temperature.

Fruit trees: Fertilize your citrus trees and look for scab disease. Plant any new deciduous fruit trees. Planting them now will give them time to become established before the warm and dry months of spring. Prune and fertilize any existing deciduous fruit trees.

Palms: Palms can be damaged in cold weather. And add any frost or sudden drops in temperatures, pay close attention to your palm trees. Treat them for cold damage if you notice dead branches or leaf tissue.

Spring forward into the great outdoors

Spring is a wonderful time to be outside and work on your landscape. It’s not too hot yet, but it’s warm enough that many plants will flourish through this time. Now is a great time to check your irrigation. Make sure it is in good working order for the dryer and warmer months ahead.

This time of year inspires many people to start new garden projects. If you are one of them, consider the following:

Pruning: Prune azaleas right after the plants finish blooming. This is the time to shape your azaleas. If you are pruning flowering shrubs or trees, prune after the last flowers have withered but before the new buds have set. This guarantees a well-shaped tree or shrub and keeps you from removing the buds for next year’s blooms.

Flower beds: Remove any dying winter annuals and replace with varieties that will bloom into the warmer months. Plant bulbs like caladiums. Caladiums will grow well throughout the spring and summer. As we come into the warmer months, it is important to consider where you are planting your flowers. Aim for areas with shade and not direct sunlight.

Summer heat doesn’t have to kick you out of the landscape.

Summer brings in high heats and heavy rains. Gardening during the summer takes care and patience. As always think about placement and plant variety.

Flower beds: Flowers that thrive in high heat such as coleus and ornamental peppers will do well in the summer. Plant gladiolus until mid-summer. Lilies such as spider, Aztec, and butterfly can be planted throughout the summer.

Vegetables and Herbs: In June and July, plant southern staples that grow well through the hottest part of the years. Such as okra, southern peas, sweet potatoes, and Malabar spinach.

Do not start herbs from seeds at this point. The heat will damage the very young plants. However, you can transplant heat-tolerant herbs throughout the summer.

Another option is to clear out your garden and practice soil solarization. This practice can remove unwanted weeds, nematodes, disease and insects from the soil. Clear plastic covers tilled soil and conducts the heat into the topsoil. The heat builds and can kill disease and insects if solarization is successful. 

Irrigation: Make sure your irrigation systems are working properly and not leaking. Consider installing a detector to turn off sprinklers and irrigation when it rains.

Palms: The summer months are the perfect time to plant palms. This gives them time to establish themselves before any cold snaps. Don’t cover the trunk with soil and keep lawn fertilizers away from the root system. Check for yellowing on older growth fronds. This can show a potassium or magnesium deficiency.

Enjoy Florida’s famous weather! Get outside and growing.