June 22, 2023

How Landscaping Can Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Creating Energy Efficiency

In the hot, humid weather throughout the state of Florida, a more thorough understanding of your climate zone can help you plan the best energy-saving landscaping strategies, while creating a beautiful “framework” for the outside of your home.

In the Tampa, Florida area, humid subtropical climates are found along the Gulf of Mexico and all the way down to the Keys.  Subtropical climates generally feature warm to hot weather year-round with very little temperature changes from season to season.

A strategically planned landscape blueprint, no matter what climate zone you live in, will not only add beauty and value to your home, but it can also help to reduce your year-round air conditioning costs and water bills.  A well-placed hedgerow, bushes, or trees can provide your home with cooling shade, act as a windbreak, and can save you up to 25% off your energy bills.

Shade trees and shrubs can minimize the sun directly hitting your home, while still allowing light and sunshine to peak through.  They can also be planted in such a way that they channel breezes toward your home.  Keeping the air moving is a great way to lessen the temperature around your house and it allows your HVAC system to run less frequently to maintain a cool inside temperature.

You and your landscaper can discuss the best trees, shrubs, plants, flowers, and proper landscaping techniques that are best for this Florida climate zone.  Where trees should be placed.  How often bushes need to be shaped and trimmed.  How much or how little you should water everything.

In addition, you’ll need to consider your home’s microclimate.  A microclimate consists of the area immediately around your home.  For example, the hot, humid Florida weather may not be as big of a factor if you live on or close by the water.  Breezes coming from the Gulf of Mexico may temper the extreme heat, while also adding humidity around the outside of your house.  Understanding your microclimate conditions will help you determine what plants you should grow (or not grow) around your home.  

Hot, humid climates are one of the most challenging to builders and renovation or remodeling contractors.  Moisture or water-related events are probably the most difficult things to address because the growth of mold and rot is accelerated in the significant humidity and high temperatures of Florida.

That’s just one of the reasons a well-designed landscape plan should be put into place.  There are Florida-friendly trees that are perfect for Tampa and the surrounding areas.

 

Let’s look at some of the types of shade trees that thrive here in Tampa:

The American sycamore, Cleveland pear, gingko, October glory maple, red maple, river birch, Shumard oak, weeping willow, and willow oak are all great shade trees for central to northern and coastal Florida.

You can choose to plant Bald Cypress trees.  These trees live a long time, are native to Florida, and flourish in just about any weather or soil.  In fact, the Bald Cypress tree can live for as long as 600 years, and it can grow to over 100 feet tall and up to 30 feet wide. You’ll need to ensure that you have enough space on your property for these trees. The Bald Cyprus tree flourishes in both wet and dry conditions, so you don’t have to worry about under or overwatering it.

The Bald Cypress is a conifer, so it loses its needles every fall and regrows them in the spring.  And because most conifers are evergreen, the Bald Cypress tree is considered quite distinctive.  Another unique characteristic of this tree is the fact that it changes colors in the different seasons. Its needles are green in spring and summer, then orange and red in fall, like leaves on other trees.  And even though the seasons are more subtle in Florida, they still exist.

The Buttonbush tree also thrives in the hot, humid Florida weather.  However, it doesn’t like salty soil, so it’s better to plant it at a home that’s away from the Gulf.  It grows the best in partial sun and partial shade and in a well-drained part of your property.  In early spring, the Buttonbush sprouts bright green leaves, followed by white flowers a few weeks later.  You can trim the shrub so that it stays the size of a bush, or let it grow tall to provide more shade.

If you’re looking for a flowering tree to add some color to your landscaping, how about a Crabapple tree?  These trees blossom in a variety of colors:  white, pink, and red, and they love the Florida sun, growing up to 25 feet high in its light and warmth.  With spreading branches loaded with fruit, many homeowners make crabapple jelly or use the fruit in apple tarts and other apple recipes.  So, on top of having a colorful flowering tree providing shade to your home, you get food!

We know you’re familiar with the green leafed indoor Ficus.  But did you know that the Ficus is a great shade tree outside in Florida?  There are many different varieties of Ficus trees, all reaching different heights.  Some can grow up to 30-feet tall, while a smaller or “dwarf” version of this tree can be only a few feet high.  The beauty of a Ficus tree is the fact that you can keep them pruned to any height and width and shaped to lend an artistic flair to your landscaping.  And because they’re evergreen, you’ll have leafy green trees (or bushes) all year round.  Ficus trees are low maintenance tropical plants that enjoy high humidity, perfect trees for the Tampa area.  And there are over 24 different Ficus species to choose from.

What kind of tree can grow in any town or city in Florida?  Well, that’s the Live Oak.  They can grow in any kind of soil, including salty and sandy, which makes it perfect if you live on or near the Gulf.  Live Oaks can grow to 60 feet tall and have wide trunks, so you’ll need plenty of space for them to expand.  They have a truly majestic look, but only offer a small amount of shade because the leaves are clustered together, letting more sunlight through.

There are many other types of trees and shrubs that do well in Florida, as well.  Hydrangea, Banana, Black Olive (no it doesn’t grow olives), Gumbo Limbo trees, Citrus fruit trees that produce oranges, lemons, Meyer lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, and limes.  Crape Myrtle, Dogwood, Fig trees, Jackfruit, Hornbeam, Loblolly Bay, Lombardy Poplar, Magnolia trees and so many more.

When considering landscaping around your home, think about what you want your property to look like in five, ten, and twenty years.  Don’t put shrubs or trees too close together. Give them room to grow and expand to their full glory.  Make sure that trees or bushes needing more water are not planted near your foundation to avoid water leaks or the growth of mold.

 

Think about how the perfect shade trees can help you conserve energy, lower your AC bills, and add value and curb appeal to your home.  There are many benefits of a Florida-friendly landscape strategy.  Here are just a few:

  • You can reduce your use of water, fertilizer, pesticides or sprays, saving money on your water bills and on your garden supply bills.
  • The right shrubs and trees provide a place for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife to visit, build nests, or just sit on a branch and sing their hearts out.
  • By doing your research and/or hiring a licensed Florida landscaper, you can select just the right plants, trees, and shrubs so that they thrive in the Florida heat and humidity.
  • You can design a low maintenance garden, one that requires very little work on your part, especially if you don’t have the time…or a green thumb.
  • You can renovate and rejuvenate your landscaping so that it’s aesthetically pleasing.  It can be used to frame a door or window, to hang over a long driveway, or to add a spark of color and drama to your home.
  • Incorporate the right accessories, statues, or stonework steps.
  • Add lighting and upward facing spotlights.

 

By planning and implementing an eco-friendly landscape strategy, you not only increase your home’s curb appeal and its value, but you also save money, while doing your part to help keep our city healthy, blossoming, and green.