Landscape Plans

This is the elevation of our new house, a pretty standard design for Florida - single story, attached garage, cinder block and stucco. Even before the first plant goes in the ground, I see at least three challenges with the front yard:

  1. Trees, Trees Everywhere. Fish Hawk Ranch, where the house will be built, requires three oak trees in the strip between the sidewalk and the street along with another three trees in the front yard. During the first ten years this arrangement will not present many challenges other than balancing the placement of these focal points. But after ten years it will be every tree for itself as the yard trees begin to compete with the spreading oaks. In particular, I really want to plant a Magnolia in the front yard, but Magnolias do not do well when they are crowded. So right choices, right placement and prudent trimming will be required.
  2. Shade. The front of the house faces almost directly north, posing some interesting challenges with shade. While the sun in Florida during the summer casts a minimal shadow (see the University of Florida article "Enviroscaping to Conserve Energy: Determining Shade Patterns for Central Florida"), a good portion of the landscaping within five feet of the house will be in shade during the other seasons. More importantly, the entryway has an extended roof that completely obscures the sun. This will require some prudent choices for deep shade tolerant plants.
  3. Fortress Gardening. Landscaping often is used to create a sense of privacy, an enclosed room separated from the rest of the world. We will be using Viburnum on the side of the house as a tall hedge to screen out the house next door and create a private garden area for tropical flowers. However, I really want to try to avoid the use of plants as barriers around the front of the house. The landscaping in the front should create an open and inviting atmosphere and should balance and complement the architecture of the house. All too often the front landscaping in Florida houses is used to obscure the view into the house, creating an almost fortress atmosphere. Here is an example of what I want to avoid. So my hope is that we can keep the trees to the side and utilize shrubs in the front of the house.