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Residential Landscaping Ideas for Zone 8B

Landscaping in a residential area can be a tricky matter. Usually the gardener has to plant in ways that will please neighbors and at times, they have to follow strict regulations. When the legalities of residential landscaping have been dealt with, gardeners start one of the most exciting aspects of gardening; deciding on what to plant and how to plant it. Searching on the Internet for landscaping ideas is usually the first thing on the list.

Rainforest Landscape

A rainforest themed landscape is achieved by planting tropical and tropical looking plants. The ground is full of decaying plant matter and provides a rich, moist environment for growing plants. This effect is suitable for most soils as long as the plants that are chosen are suitable for the garden soil. In other words, you do not have to use tropical plants to fake a rainforest.

A dense canopy of trees and vines will shade the undergrowth of sun tender plants. Plants to use as a canopy include strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), kiwi vine (Actinidia deliciosa) and waranway (Tecoma sambucifolia). For the undergrowth black elephant ears (colocasia esculenta), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and various mosses will create a dense and tropical feel to the planting. Rotting moss covered logs are an important element in this garden design. Hollowed out areas of the log provide good growing spots for ferns, mosses and other small species.

Rainforests are riddled with streams, rivers, ponds and mud holes. The addition of a stream, pond or both will make the overall effect more realistic. Water misters placed throughout the stream or containers of water will add a foggy rain-dense atmosphere to the area.

Desert Landscape

Desert landscapes do not have to be in a desert. This look can be achieved by using plants that are from or look like they are native to desert areas. Even some tropical plants can fit into a desert landscape. Cacti do require well-drained sandy/rocky soil.

Planting tall cacti in prominent areas throughout the landscape will add height to the area. Filling in bare areas with low growing perennials and annuals adds interest. By choosing a few brightly colored plants, stopping points can be achieved. These areas give places for a person’s eyes to rest before moving to other parts of the garden.

The addition of realistic animal skulls will make the landscape appear as old as a real desert. An oasis would be an unexpected addition to the desert garden as well. It can be a simple preformed garden pond or as elaborate as a stream spilling into a pool.

Suitable desert landscape plants for zone 8b include fishhook cactus (Echinocactus setispinus), Bailey’s lace cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii v. baileyii), and miniature century plant (Agave toumeyana v. bella), and Sedum (kamtschaticum var. kamtschaticum) ‘Variegatum’.

Monochromatic Landscape

Monochromatic landscapes are those that are planted with species of the same color. This type of gardening idea can be in red, blue, pink, white or any other color. If a rare plant color is chosen, additional colors may need to be added to the landscape to fill it in.

Planting groups of white colored flowers such as moon vine (Ipomea alba), brugmansia (Brugmansia candida) “Double White”, violets (Viola striata) and wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) provides a color contrast on dark nights and overcast days. If an all white theme is too bland during the day, the addition of boldly colored garden elements will help to break up the monotony. Using red arbors or chairs adds instant punch to a white garden.

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