Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Landscape Styles — Tropical, Coastal, Mediterranean


Warm temperatures are officially here! Flowers are in bloom, and landscape work is in full swing. Are you considering a full landscape redesign or just a refresh for your yard?

Here in Northeast Florida, many homes feature landscaping in the tropical, coastal and Mediterranean styles.

A tropical landscape design is reminiscent of an island paradise — full of lush plants and lots of color! Most plants in a tropical landscape love the heat. For this reason, our Northeast Florida home is one of the most northern climates in which the tropical landscape style can be successful.

Tropical landscapes display plants and flowers overlapping and free-flowing. They include abundant varieties of green plants featuring various sizes and types of leaves as well as pops of vibrant color. Many designers add a water feature in a tropical landscape to further enhance the serene, oasis-like environment. When creating a tropical landscape, look for queen palms, roebellini palms and Sylvester palms. Consider surrounding the trunks with coquina shell or lava rocks. Add both variety and color with agapanthus, allamanda, apostle iris, arboricola, bamboo, birds of paradise, caladiums, crotons, flax lily, foxtail fern, Hawaiian ti, hibiscus, and variegated ginger.

Landscaping in the coastal style creates a relaxed, beachy atmosphere. Coastal landscaping takes an organic approach to landscaping with plants “blowing in the breeze.” Clusters of grasses such as fountain grass or muhly grass give a whimsical look and add movement in the landscape.

A coastal design often includes plants and flowers in whites, greens, blues and splashes of pink. This landscape may also feature climbing vines such as confederate jasmine on a trellis or pergola. In place of mulch, use coquina shell and plant blue agave — complement the combination with blue daze and foxtail fern. To develop a coastal landscape, use a mixture of the following: bismarck palms, blue agave, blue daze, confederate jasmine, dune sunflower, dwarf fakahatchee, fountain grass, foxtail fern, gaillardia, gaura, muhly grass, queen palms, ribbon palms, Sylvester palms.

Mediterranean-style landscaping involves a lavish mix of palm trees and clean-cut plants. The style displays a sculpted, maintained look and frequently features roses. A Mediterranean landscape design often incorporates “gardens within gardens.”

Pathways within the landscaping can lead to arbors, secluded areas of the garden or water features. The Mediterranean style also includes climbing plants such as creeping fig on a trellis or on the side of the house. Use canary date palms, medjool date palms, and Sylvester palms as well as Asiatic jasmine, boxwood, creeping fig, crotons, podacarpus and roses to accentuate your Mediterranean look!

With all landscape designs, be sure to identify the sun-versus-shade ratios in your yard. Note the amount of sunlight needed for your selected plants and trees in order to place them in appropriate areas of the landscape. Finally, add annuals to any landscape for seasonal color within your design.

Happy Planting!

Flower of the Week: Agapanthus

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.