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Landscaping advice and help with tree identification

Hi guys,


Ok I got some great advice for my last landscaping job and I'm ready for my next job!  

Here it is -




First, a question -- what is the name of those medium size trees in the middle?   Secondly, how do I care for them?  Lately, the leaves have been turning brown and I've been having to trim them back.   Is there a good fertilizer that I can use to keep them in good condition?


For the landscaping project, I have 3 large palm trees and those medium size trees that I would like to keep (they look nice when they're not dying!).   The hedges along the back wall are not uniform, and just look haphazardly placed, so I'm thinking of getting rid of them.   Also, I'm thinking of getting rid of the ground cover in the front and replacing it with something that doesn't look as "weedy".  Either small ground cover plants or flowers.  I'm thinking the whole area is lacking color too -- yellows, reds, etc.  Of course, these are just my thoughts.  I'm open to anything.  If you thnk I should tear everything out and start from scratch, I'd like to hear that too!


So what do you guys think?  What would you do?  FYI -  I live in south Florida -- so probably zone 9-10.  And, I'd say the area is full sun.


Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Posted 2011-06-30T03:01:34+0000  by UFlaDave UFlaDave

Hey UFlaDave.


So you tackled the backyard and it looks awesome. Now lets work on the front. The plant in the middle is

Philodendron bipinnatifidum and it appears to be well established and it is my suspicion that it might have an Iron deficiency because they are typically darker green and it is typical with sandy soil. Vigoro and Miracle Grow both make fertilizers for shrubs and Palms that have Iron in them that can fix the problem.


Some of my favorite plants are not cold hardy here in Atlanta and anytime I get to put them in a design I will do it. I fell in love with the Cast Iron Plant when I saw the mass plantings under the Banyan trees at the Ringling mansion in Sarasota.


The plants in the back look like Hibiscus and I suspect that they would be happier with a little more sun. You said that you like reds, then I would probably recommend planting Red Sister in the back, for it will really stand out against that wall and it would not get so tall as to block the window.


Spreading Japanese Plum Yew is a great plant. It would fill in the middle nicely and it could also hide the outdoor spotlight fixtures that I am going to recommend putting in, pointing up the trunks of the Palm trees. These lights will accent the hole area and look very elegant. The combination of these plants will provide nice colors and textures to the bed. 


I know that by now you are the authority when it comes to fountains because you picked the perfect one for the backyard. I think a fountain in the front would look great, for you might see it more than the one in the back if this is the main entrance to the house. Malibu makes a 4 piece low voltage flood light kit that would light up the trees and fountain perfectly.


Around the fountain I would recommend planting Stella De Oro Daylilies. Because the area is rather small, it is best to go with fewer types of plants to prevent it from looking too chaotic.


I put my vision down on paper. Please excuse the sloppy nature of the drawing, for it was drawn with a pen because someone has stole my pencil and it is obviously not to scale.


I invite all my other community friends to share their suggestions so we can get UFlaDave the perfect design.

If the person that stole my pencil is reading this, please return it. Thanks.

daves design.JPG

Aspidistra elatior, Cast Iron Plant.jpgCast Iron Plantred sister.JPGRed sister

yew.jpgSpreading Plum Yew





homedepot.comflood light.jpg


Posted 2011-06-30T18:18:00+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

Wow Greengiant.  Thanks for the in depth design.  You rock!     Looking at your design, it looks like you're suggesting to take out all the philodendron, correct?     I've been leaning in that direction lately.  Thinking about just pulling everything out except for the 3 palm trees and starting fresh.  


I started excavating the area yesterday, and, well, it is somewhat of a nightmare!   I didn't realize until I started, but the whole area is one big massive root system!  I went out and bought the basics -- shovel, spading fork, and garden rake and I'm doing my best to tear it out.    I was almost ready to call it quits and call in the professionals, but I'm going to keep at it.   I think the excavation is going to be the hardest part.   Once I get past that, planting should be fun!   And, when it's all done, all the hard work should be worth it. 


And, sorry to hear about your missing pencil.   Send me your address and I'll mail you a brand new one!  It's the least I can do for all of your effort!



Posted 2011-07-04T01:28:04+0000  by UFlaDave

Here's a picture of my roots.   Has any of you ever seen such a monstrosity?






I'm assuming this is from years and years of mulching -- throwing new mulch on top of old mulch.  After I started removing the layers of mulch, this is what lies beneath.  What do you think the best way to clear these would be?  A friend suggested renting an electric tiller or cultivator. 

Posted 2011-07-05T03:17:54+0000  by UFlaDave

Hey UFlaDave.


Those are some CRAZY roots! I think getting rid of the Philodendron would help the area look less chaotic. I would dig the Philodendron out with a shovel and then use a gas tiller to cut through those roots. My design would look better without the Philodendron and it would look much more simple.


How many stories is that building and what direction does it face?

Posted 2011-07-07T12:14:48+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

Crazy is an understatement!  I think all those roots are from the 3 palm trees.  Initially, I thought the palms would have a much deeper and thicker root system.   From my research, this appears not to be the case!    I'm in the process of removing the Philodendron as we speak.   I cut the aerial roots and removed the trunks so far.  I'm working on digging those roots from the ground today.  It's proving challenging because I think they're intertwined with all the roots from the palms.  And, I'm still trying to cut through the roots to find the root balls!


This area is in front of my 2 story town house,  which is facing SE. 


I'm not even sure if a tiller will work with all these roots.    Does Home Depot rent Dynamite?  Hehe

Posted 2011-07-07T16:46:47+0000  by UFlaDave

Hey Dave.


The only Dynamite Depot sells is the Dynamite plant food which probably created this monster.

Posted 2011-07-07T16:51:52+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

Ok, here's where I'm at --







Trying to get rid of all the trees/shrubs and major roots.  I'm thinking i'm getting close to the point where I can get a tiller in there and do the rest of the work.  What do you think?    Also, after pulling the Philodendron out, there were a bunch of large aerial roots protruding from the ground.  I pulled out what I could.  But, the ones that were close to the palms were probably wrapped up in the palm's root system and I couldn't pull them out -- so, I just cut them at ground level.  Do you think this will be ok?  Or, do you think I'm going to get regrowth on the philodendron?


Thanks for all your help!


Posted 2011-07-07T20:01:19+0000  by UFlaDave

Oh!  I forgot.  I posted the wrong picture at the start of this thread.  That one was after I tried to clean the area up a bit.   Here's what the area looked like before I started --






Atrocious, huh? Hehe




Posted 2011-07-07T20:05:38+0000  by UFlaDave

All done for the day.  I pulled a ton of roots out.  There's still alot, but it feels more manageable at this point.   I tried to preserve the roots between 18 inches and 2 feet around the 3 palms.  I don't want to kill them  (ok, secretly, maybe I do).   Hopefully that will be enough.   


So what do you guys think the next step is?  Work in some top soil or compost and rent a gas tiller to prep the area for planting?  The existing dirt feels pretty good as you go a little bit deeper -  nice black color, not sandy.  And, good drainage.   I was also looking into maybe putting in a root barrier to prevent the palm roots from taking over the whole area again. 


I'm new to landscaping, and I feel like I'm in over my head! 









Posted 2011-07-08T00:16:11+0000  by UFlaDave

Hey UFlaDave.


That bed already looks better and a lot less chaotic. I am headed to Florida Tuesday to do some kayak fishing. I was thinking that it would look nice if we incorporated some nice looking grasses in the front of the bed similar to the grass that they put on the dunes.


You can bring in some dirt, but you don't want to backfill over the roots of the palms too much. The root barrier will not stop the roots, but only prevent weeds. You could put in some matching Edgestone edger's around the bed, for this would raise the bed about 3 inches, keeping the soil from washing onto the driveway. It looks like the palms are planted, raised significantly, therefore more dirt would not be a bad idea and it would make planting much easier.


You are doing a great job and you are making this look easy.






Posted 2011-07-10T16:55:49+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
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