I recently moved and could use some ideas for landscaping my barren backyard. Can you suggest plants that are economical, low maintenance and able to withstand full sun?
—Denese Ganley, Riverview, Florida
A new landscape can be an exciting opportunity, though sometimes it may be overwhelming.
Creating a scale drawing of your yard is a good place to start your landscape design. Identify where you want to place flower or vegetable gardens, areas of shade and windbreaks.
Share your plans with friends and family. They may have more ideas or, better yet, plants to share. Shared plants help the budget and incorporate fond memories into the landscape.
Then scour nursery catalogs and the Internet to find plants you like that will thrive in your climate and growing conditions. Consider native plants, as you already know they can withstand the elements and require less maintenance. Trees and shrubs to consider include native acacia, white stopper, American holly, live oak, beautyberry and wax myrtle. All of these plants are native to central Florida and readily available. The University of Florida also has an extensive list of low-maintenance flowers, shrubs and trees suited for your area.