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Oct 2, 2016 9:02 AM CST

I've been struggling to figure out what to do with the front entrance garden areas of my SE Florida home. It has its challenges as it faces north and because of the home's architecture there are areas that are total shade, and other areas partial shade at best. My experience with nurseries have not gone well, they simply don't offer a service to sit down with you help with a design. I have bought a few plants based on their advice but they have either died or are just hanging in there. Landscapers are abundant but, understandably so, seem interested only if they do the design and install.

I am not very creative but very handy. When I search the web and see hundreds of options I only get more frustrated.

I would love to get my hands on a detailed design that works with this difficult area. Because of the total shade area, if plants will never work, what else can I do? Is it possible to cost effectively hire someone to provide a design for such a small area?

Low maintenance, tropical, perennials.

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Oct 3, 2016 9:42 AM CST
Name: Alice
St. Johns, FL (Zone 9a)
Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers Ponds Organic Gardener Orchids Master Gardener: Florida
Hummingbirder Hibiscus Fruit Growers Region: Florida Dog Lover Container Gardener
Some independent garden centers will do a design for you for free if you agree to buy the plants, or at least spend a certain amount on plants, from them. You don't always have to have them install, just ask and tell them you want to get your own hands dirty. Why don't you go to your profile page here and add your location. SE FLorida is kind of broad. If you indicate a specific location someone here who lives nearby may recommend a good resource for you.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Oct 5, 2016 10:22 AM CST
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Amaryllis Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Orchids Master Gardener: Florida Irises
Herbs Region: Florida Vegetable Grower Daylilies Birds Cat Lover
Hi and welcome - as Alice points out, we really need to know a little bit closer as to where you are - at least if you could add your city, we'd have a better idea of your climate. Near the coast is much different than inland for example.

The north sides of the houses here are a challenge. In winter the house shades the beds and it can be quite a bit colder there than other garden areas where the sun warms the ground during the day. But then in summer when the sun is straight up overhead, you have full sun all day.

This is what I'm thinking about the bed in your picture to the left of the walkway - all shade all day in the cold months, all sun all day in the hot months. Different types of plants are needed for those two situations.

Two things you can do - first is to just plant annuals that like the cool weather in there for some nice color through the winter months, but plant the bed mainly with tropical perennial plants that will be dormant in winter.

Second thought is to plant another clump of the Adonidia palms like the ones on the other side of the walkway. They will then shade the bed equally, cooling things off substantially in summer. Then you can put in plants that do well in shade all year.

Let us know where you are and what you think about these ideas, and we can then recommend some more plants for you.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
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