South Florida is well known for sunshine, sandy beaches and lovely landscapes. The ever-growing backdrop of native plants is often studded with pops of color and graceful palm trees. Sun, soil and water requirements dictate what will bloom best in any given location, but even naturally lush landscapes need care and attention to maintain optimum beauty and health. The proper mix of elements doesn’t happen by accident even in semi- tropical South Florida, where the growing season is pretty much all year long.
Winters are a brief, usually dry, few weeks, and the summer rainy season coincides with the annual hurricane season. South Florida landscapers must deal with these adjustments, and the occasional drought, just like states to the north face the challenges of snow and ice.
Condominium and homeowner associations typically find landscaping and lawn maintenance expenses are second only to insurance cost; fortunately the benefits of a thriving landscape continue to outweigh the expense. Property value, real and perceived, is enhanced by an attractive landscape, and residents tend to take more pride in their homes. Additionally, a well manicured landscape is an added benefit when units are placed on the market.
Maximizing the Elements
“Using native plants, in the best possible location with proper sun exposure and irrigation is a smart and economical way to maximize a landscaping budget,” says Michael Cihal, vice president of operations and a certified horticulturist for Total Landscape Concepts, Inc. in Pembroke Pines. Cihal has a heavy design background, and particularity enjoys creating landscapes for high end properties; he gravitates towards unusual and unique native plants.
When working in confined areas, Cihal pays close attention to the space and the lighting, both are issues as plants mature. He favors dwarf varieties of native plants, understory palms, and other unusual palms. “There is a narrow margin on temperatures and moisture for many tropical plants, if temperatures fall below 60 degrees or water is restricted, plants can decline quickly without protection,” he says.