Houston Tropical Landscaping

The fascination with tropical landscaping makes sense in Houston because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, cultural influences of the tropics, subtropics of Spain and Latin America which provide plenty of local inspiration for creating the tropical landscape design. Houston’s architectural styles now popular including New Orleans plantation, Spanish, and Mediterranean all lend themselves well to tropical landscaping. The tropics diverse palate of lush plantings and bright colors inspire the most beautiful and prehistoric spaces echoing vacation or leisure. Often, because of budgetary concerns or lack of horticultural knowledge tropical landscaping is poorly executed because it is treated as just another landscape i.e. substitute oaks for palms and you’re finished. When done well the tropical landscape is lush, beautiful, private, refreshing and becomes a paradise for retreat.

Landscape Design for the Tropical

The tropical landscape can adapt to any style of home. As in all good design the form and function of outdoor spaces needs to be sympathetic to the homes architecture and definitely include spaces for entertainment. Is the tropical garden formal or informal? Informal modern landscape design works well with the tropical because of all the exotic and funky plant forms available. Tropical landscaping done well comes about through the knowledgeable layering of tropical plant materials and the fun use of varying hardscape materials such as wood, concrete, water and stone.

Tropical Plants

Many landscape designs in Houston intended to hint at the tropical usually contain some palm trees, variegated gingers and some lolly pop shrubs and white rock. A sparse and haphazard approach to tropical falls somewhere between desert sparse, uninspired and just plain poorly done. In designing tropical plantings think lush green multi-layer forms from the tinniest ground cover up to the tallest palm tree:

• Palms-Mediterranean fan palms, pygmy date palms, medjoles, canary palms, and bamboos.
• Shrub Layer-gingers, philodendrons, bottle brushes, camellia specimen, cannas, caste iron plant.
• Accent Plants-Australian tree Fern, century plant, flax, alocasias, saw palmetto.
• Ground Cover Layer-alocasias, clematis vine, star jasmine, xanado, ardisia, liriope, monkey grass.

Tropical Hardscapes

Tropical patios and walks can also be infused with layering, color and alternate materials to play upon various planting layers. By creating multiple deck layers or steps that slow the viewer down enabling for more viewing of the lush planting layers and creating greater interest. Built elements that add creativity, color and fun to outdoor compositions include:

• Outdoor kitchens-in stucco with back walls of Spanish tile
• Palapas-kitchens that are separate from the house w. or without a thatch roof
• Wood Decks-stacked with rounded or curved edges.
• Waterfalls-a water element creates the sound of privacy drowning out urban noises.
• Tile Mosaics-with bright colors of the tropics-aqua blues, reds, and yellows turning a pool into a tropical piece of art.
• Garden art to include lamps, torches, ceramic pieces, funky benches and furniture.

Tropical Landscaping Fun and Retreat

Ultimately one is only limited by their creativity, design knowledge and tropical horticulture experience in creating dramatic tropical landscapes. Multiple layering of lush green plant materials, walks, variety in materials, and garden art to include; colored concretes, stone, metal, and tile bringing about the fun of retreat in the tropics. Approach the tropical landscape as a multicolorful journey-don’t just have a mojito, throw in pinnacola’s and dacaries and you too can create a tropical paradise.

Source by Jeff Halper

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