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Expert Tips on Tropical Landscape Design: An Interview with Eileen Giunta of Eileen G Designs

By Eileen Guinta

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My company offers comprehensive residential and commercial landscape design and design-build services in the greater South Florida areas. We specialize in all aspects of digital design, including 3D renderings so our clients can see what our designs look like from different perspectives. We also offer animated videos of our designs and landscape plans, and assist with project budgeting and coordinating the installation with our team of contractors.

What are some of the requirements for a tropical landscape that will thrive?

Tropical plants need warm temperatures, the right amount of light, adequate water, and the ability to be able to withstand hot and humid summers. Fertilization 3-4 times a year and appropriate trimming and pest control are also necessary for tropical plants to thrive.

How should homeowners start a new landscape design project?

As with any project, it is important to have a plan that shows the well thought out details of the hardscape and landscaping elements in the design. Establishing a budget is essential because it will determine what hardscape materials and sizes of plant materials you can afford. If the project is large and involves different areas of your yard, establishing separate budgets for each area is a good idea. You can do the project in phases.

Can you briefly explain any challenges that come with a tropical landscape?

Maintaining tropical gardens is challenging because plants grow year round due to the moderate temperatures and abundant rainfall. Keeping plants trimmed and beds weeded can be challenging. Also, because of the high humidity and heat, pests can be difficult to control.

What are some of the most popular design elements of a tropical yard?

Hardscape elements include tiki huts, outdoor kitchens and pools and spas. Landscaping elements include palm trees, big-leaved plants like Alocasia, banana, bird of paradise and colorful arrangements of plants like croton, ti plants and bromeliads. Also, an abundance of fruit trees thrive in tropical climates: citrus, avocado, mango, and lesser known trees like jaboticaba, pomegranate and Barbados cherry.

What recommendations do you have for great looking tropical plants that will survive in Florida without a lot of maintenance?

Some of my favorite low-maintenance plants include palms: christmas palm, coconut palm, foxtail palm, bottle palm, sylvester palm, cat palm, lady palm. Colorful tropicals include Queen Emma crinum lily, croton (my varieties include gold dust croton, mami croton, croton stoplight), ti plants (my favorites include auntie lou, black magic, exotica, ruby, maria pink), philodendron (varieties include Congo rojo, Xanadu, moonlight), ground orchids and foxtail ferns.

With these plants, you can create a fabulous, colorful, very low-maintenance, tiered-down garden for your front yard or around a pool with the ground orchids and foxtail ferns in front (1 gallon sizes). Next tier, moonlight philodendron (needs afternoon shade), Xanadu, croton (3 gallon sizes), and the back tier would include cat palm, ti plants, lady palm (15 gallon sizes) in the back. Use Congo philodendron and Queen Emma crinum lily (7 gallon sizes) as accents. Mix in some of the palm trees (start with a minimum of 10' overall height) and you have a beautiful, easy to maintain tropical paradise that only needs occasional trimming and regular fertilization (3-4 times a year).

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Company name: Eileen G Designs
Landscape designer: Eileen Giunta

Phone: 772-260-0305
Email: eileengdesigns@gmail.com

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