How to Craft a More Eco-Friendly Backyard in South Florida

How to Craft a More Eco-Friendly Backyard in South Florida

That’s why we’re always thinking about ways to offset our carbon footprint. Saving energy is a relatively easy first step. But what about an eco-friendly backyard and landscaping?

Chlorinated swimming pools require lots of energy and lots of chemicals. But we’re definitely not ready to give up our backyard pools anytime soon! Transforming your backyard into a greener paradise can offer several benefits to the environment:

  • Contribute to more oxygen production
  • Provide local wildlife, birds and bees for example, with more suitable habitats
  • Protect your backyard from flooding with increased vegetation
  • Backyards just look nicer with more flowers, trees, and shrubs
  • Best of all, you don’t have to get rid of your pool in the process!

Whether you’re a green thumb or new to the power of plants, you’re sure to find a few helpful tips in this blog!

Pool Area Plant Suggestions

Every plant on this list is habitable within South Florida’s climate, but it’s far from extensive. The University of Florida also has incredible, science-backed resources to help you determine whether certain plants are right for your backyard.

Ornamental Grasses

Lemongrass

lemongrass
Highlights
  • Grows well in humid, tropical climates
  • Edible herb commonly used in several dishes
  • Easy to grow with lots of regular watering

Muhly Grass

Muhly grass
Highlights
  • Wide range of soil pH (6–8) leaves lots of wiggle room for companion plants
  • Tolerates tough conditions from droughts to floods
  • Grows up to 5 feet to provide some natural backyard privacy blinding

Flowers

African Iris

African Iris
Highlights
  • Grows well in either wet or well-drained soil
  • Stunning perennials that bloom in late spring and summer
  • Very attractive to pollinators

Beach Sunflower

Highlights
  • Works well in rocky/sandy soil and drier areas
  • Highly salt-tolerant
  • Flower blooms attract butterflies

Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise
Highlights
  • Evergreen leaves mean less maintenance or cleanup around your pool deck
  • Bright tropical colors brighten up your backyard
  • Easy maintenance that rarely goes beyond regular watering and occasional pruning

Blazing Star / Liatris

Blazing star
Highlights
  • Attracts butterflies, slugs, and snails
  • Perfect complement to flower bouquets
  • Perennial

Shrubs

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera
Highlights
  • Tolerates slightly alkaline soil, so nearby pool water and chlorine only affects its growth minimally
  • Fairly tolerant to pests and diseases
  • Used as a topical for sunburns and other skin irritations

Schefflera

Green-yellow Schefflera leaves
Highlights
  • Blocks wind
  • Grows best in partial shade and as companion plants to some palms and trees
  • Can be toxic to dogs, so use caution if you have pets

Palms and Trees

Banana

Banana leaves
Highlights
  • Grows fast
  • Edible fruit
  • Tolerates a wide range of soil pH

Pindo Palm

A maturing Pindo palm tree
Highlights
  • Attracts several pollinators
  • Highly tolerant to the elements
  • Fruit a great source of nutrition for wildlife, but can be cumbersome to clean up if too close to the pool area

What to Consider Before You Start Digging

Before you set off to your local hardware store or plant nursery, there’s a few things you need to know.

Style

Don’t just start potting and planting all willy-nilly! Choose a design that works for your backyard setup.

Space

Keep in mind that the hardscaping around your pool area will slightly affect the climate. Lots of surrounding concrete, for example, can absorb the sun’s rays and retain heat better than a grassy backyard might.

Many plants need lots of direct sunlight to grow to their full potential, while some only need partial sunlight, like Schefflera.

Consider this especially if you decide planting trees, palms, or shrubs. They’ll need the extra space so they’re not competing with other trees for nutrients, sunlight, and water.

Slope

Always, always, ALWAYS slope your landscaping away from the pool deck area. This prevents soil and water runoff from entering your pool and altering its chemistry. We recommend a quarter-inch of slope per foot away from the pool. Consider a landscaping overhaul in your backyard if this isn’t the case.

Soil type and pH

You will find that some plants do better in more acidic soils, while some do better in slightly alkaline soils. Some native Florida plants are hardy enough to tolerate either!

Pest resistance

You might want to attract birds, butterflies, and pollinators to your backyard — but that doesn’t mean you’re giving an open invitation to every pest and pestilence to waltz right in. Some plants, like basil and lavender, are great at repelling mosquitoes. But ultimately, you should decide for yourself what’s best for your garden.

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