Help with plant selection in small Orlando front yard

MissHollyinOrlandoMay 9, 2011


I am not an expert, and know just enough to be dangerous :-). My small front yard used to be sort of a mish-mash 'cottage style'. The previous owner landscaped around the center walkway. By the street is Indian Hawthorne, kept low by trimming like a hedge, it rarely flowers and I have a big problem with some kind of viney weeds... potato vine I think. There are some unhappy dwarf azaleas, a small asiatic jasmine (?), one large 'natural' white crape myrtle (I never hack them back in the winter) and a smaller deep purple one.

I also have some big mondo grass, and variegated mondo grass, yellow lilies, in a small bed and along walkways and some kind of hedge along the front of the house, and some podacarpus-es that the mocking birds nest in. The walkway divides the yard in half.

My dilemma: There was st. augustine grass but I think I got cinch bugs, all of the grass died. I am tired of paying a big water bill to water and paying the lawn guy to mow what is now dirt/weeds. The yard is small enough that I think I can rake up the dead grass, plant some select plants and mulch the rest of the yard. I have also considered putting in bermuda grass, but am leaning toward plants and mulch. I own a business and can't always have time to maintain things myself, it's hit or miss, hence the yard-guy (who is not helpful at all and really just mows.)

The yard gets mostly full sun except right by the house. The neighbor on one side has an ugly yard/driveway that I would love to block along one side, really only about a 10' span I'd need to fill. I have a pretty big meyer lemon in a pot that I love, although it was a challenge to keep it alive during last winter's freeze. I love things that bear fruit, I also love rosemary and herbs, and veggies, but really need to choose things that can be pretty much ignored when I get super busy.

I've gone to the garden center and found plants that look happy and healthy in the past although I thought I was picking the right plant for other spots in the yard... I haven't done very well. There is a sprinkler system in place, but using it less would be good.

Can you help me figure out what to plant? I will see if I can manage to post a photo too. I would love something like a pomegranate or fig or other fruit, but I don't want to just start planting randomly and have it look jumbled and disorganized.

thank you!!!!

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    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 9:40AM
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After looking at what you already have going on in your yard, I would suggest irises. Giant irises would block the "ugly" driveway you don't want to see and white or yellow irises would like nice in the yard. Both are very easy to maintain.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 2:07PM
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pabrocb(Sarasota/Cape Cod)

I would also plant some nice holly. I know it's not a popular choice, but I want something that stays green all year and won't take a hit when it gets cold.

How about some additional citrus trees? You have nice space for them, and they'd give you some height and fruit.

What does well in your neighbor's yards? That is always the best guide.

I love your house, it's absolutely charming, and it's crying out for roses!

Carol B. Sarasota

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 8:42PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

link to photos

Here is a link that might be useful: photos

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 6:27AM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Hi Miss Holly,

I love your yard. You really have all the bones there, in my eyes you just need color. Your hardscape, edging and evergreen plants give you a nice framework. Maybe another evergreen or two as suggested above would be sufficient.

If it were my yard in your situation (not a lot of regular time to spend), I would plant some natives and colorful Florida friendly stuff. For example, in picture 2, I would plant maybe the evergreen closest to your neighbor (for privacy), then maybe plant 3 firebushes for a mass of summer color and butterflies. Maybe a beautyberry toward another edge of the property. Then I would fill in with large groupings of perennials or long-lasting annuals. Ideas are tall pentas, salvias, lantana. If you need another focal point, consider a dioon spinulosum. They take up a lot of space and are spiny, but are carefree and gorgeous evergreen plants. I like that you have a pot here and there also. Have fun!


    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:40AM
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thank you so much for the great suggestions! Yes, I'd like to add some color for sure, and butterfly plants would be lovely to have - I have just recently seen some very happy firebushes at a neighbor's so I think they'd work well. I'll do a little research on some of the other plants as I'm not familiar with all of them, and update you when I can.

Thanks too for the link to the photos... just figuring out how this all works here.

Cheers and thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 6:51PM
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Here's the latest... I'm thinking a row of knock out roses along the left side of the yard (facing house.) Then maybe in front of them a row of dusty miller. I'm tempted to plant the meyer lemon that is in a big pot on the right side, where there is just dead grass right now. That's as far as I've gotten.... I love ornamental cabbage but I don't think that will grow in the summer. I think I need some purple or blue somewhere, maybe mexican petunias or pentas? Any suggestions?

Here is a link that might be useful: front yard 'before'

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 12:47PM
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If you're looking for purple/blue, I love my heliotrope and salvia in these planter boxes. Cold hardy and constant bloomers.
You have so much to choose from! Have fun,

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 2:10PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

I'm thinking a row of knock out roses along the left side of the yard (facing house.)

Excellent! You could make some nice and relatively easy to make post and wire trellis system. I'm not much of a rose person, but I have learned to love OGR - Old Garden Roses. Something like Louis Phillipe or Mutablis would be awesome along there, and very low maintenance.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 6:02PM
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I finally settled on: some knockout roses, pink pentas, caladiums, mexican petunias, a little purple queen, a little yellow lantana, some pineapples, a firebush (which doesn't seem happy in the full sun spot I chose....), a meyer lemon tree, and some pink crown of thorns. I think I need a couple of other clumps of color or something to balance... theres a spot that needs some white or orange. For white I've thought of maybe vinca (?) but I thought maybe someone else might have a better suggestion... and I am not so fond of them but I know they are drought tolerant and perennial. I think I could also use something with a little height in addition, not necessarily a white or orange flower.

The photos don't really do it justice, and it had been so dry I was holding off a little on spending more on plants to fill in, but now that the rain has started I'm ready. And now what I've planted will fill in too, although I am wishing it would hurry up a bit! :-)

thanks for any suggestions!

Here is a link that might be useful: june gallery

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 11:12AM
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Hi, Miss Holly. Your link is to the sign in page.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 2:48PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Here's a working link:

Here is a link that might be useful: June 14, 2011

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:42PM
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thank you for posting the good link. Almost a year later and the yard looks good... surprisingly some lantana isn't doing so well, but the roses, mexican petunia, Purple Queen, meyer lemon and crown of thorns look great and were good choices for the spots they are in. Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 6:08PM
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