Sep 21 2015

Bath gardens are becoming more common for residents that live near the beach or have active lifestyles.  Often containing an outdoor shower, bath gardens can be an oasis for days when you don’t want to trek through the house or even on the days with beautiful weather that are so common to Florida.  Not all bath gardens contain showers; some are simply gardens that can be viewed from the bathroom or a soaker tub.  These gardens tend to have a larger emphasis on focal points and softscape.  

To decide which type of bath garden works best for your home the most important question to address is accessibility.  Do you plan on incorporating an outdoor shower?  If so you likely will need to incorporate hardscape elements to help get you through the space.  If a shower will not be used often perhaps a combination of stepping stones and faux turf will work well in the space.  Benches are often incorporated for seating or even to serve as a towel rack and changing area for outdoor showers.   

To make the space one-of-a-kind incorporating accent planting, artwork, or even water features makes the space your own.  Water features can include tiered or wall fountains or water wall feature.  If water is not appealing, incorporating a statue with night lighting is a great option for art enthusiasts and creates a unique focal point throughout the day.  Planting is the final piece to creating your ideal oasis.  Selecting materials that will not block views, requires little maintenance, and has light requirements reflecting the space are key.  Accessibility can be a problem with bath gardens so turf should be used sparingly and plants with similar water requirements should be grouped together.

The image below shows a bath garden for a client preferring mostly hardscape to lead to the outdoor shower.  The statue is lit from below and provides a unique focal point for the adjacent bathroom.   Benches were built-in with raised planters.  The above renderings were for a client desiring an outdoor shower and wall fountain.  Material was kept low to preserve views from the adjacent bathtub and accents and large pots were incorporated to provide pops of color. 

Jul 27 2015

With this rainy weekend behind, it is a fitting time to write about how to incorporate a rain garden into your landscape!

What is a rain garden?  Rain gardens are depressed areas of the landscape that are designed to retain stormwater runoff and allow it to slowly percolate into the ground.  They also help improve water quality and decrease erosion.  Another plus is that they require less maintenance, fertilizer, and water once they are established. 

So how do you decide where to place your rain garden and what plants you should use? If your landscape has a low points or area where water naturally stands this would be an ideal location.  Keep in mind- rain gardens need to be at least 10 feet from the house to prevent water damage to the fountation and at least 25 feet from septic tanks.  It is also important to place it in full sun and not within the driplines of existing trees. 

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science created a list of suitable plants for rain gardens in Southwest Florida.  Below we have included the list and highlighted a few of our favorites using the (*) symbol. 

Wildflowers, Ferns, Grasses, and Sedges:
*Canna flaccida, Golden canna
Eupatorium coelestinum, Blue mistflower
Helenium pinnatifidum, Everglades daisy
Lobelia glandulosa, Glades lobelia
Sabatia spp., Marsh pinks
*Acrostichum danaefolium, Leather fern
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, Royal fern
Thelypteris palustris, Marsh fern
Woodwardia virginica, Virginia chain fern
*Muhlenbergia capillaris, Gulf muhly grass

Trees and Shrubs:
*Acer rubrum var. trilobum, Red maple
Annona glabra, Pond apple
*Cephalanthus occidentalis, buttonbush
*Chrysobalanus icaco, Cocoplum
Gordonia lasianthus, Loblolly bay
Ilex cassine, Dahoon holly
Ilex glabra, Galberry
Magnolia virginiana, Sweetbay
Myrica cerifera, Wax myrtle
Myrsine floridana, Myrsine
*Sabal palmetto, Cabbage palm
Salix caroliniana, Coastal plain willow
*Serenoa repens, Saw palmetto
Taxodium ascendens, Pond cypress

See more information on the plants at: http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu/News%20columns/FYN.Rain.Garden.htm