The 5 Biggest Mistakes In Lanai Landscaping

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Lanais are ubiquitous in Florida. These grown-up playspaces have multiple names - terrace, patio, sun porch, pool deck, veranda, balcony- and come in multiple sizes and configurations. Here in southwest Florida they are predominantly pool areas that are totally enclosed in a screened cage. The cages look unattractive from the outside, but inside they provide an unobstructed view of water, palm trees and golf courses with freedom from tree debris, birds, bugs and critters. Especially the slithery ones.

Whether it's a house or a condo 27 floors up, owners have an irresistible craving to make their outdoor living area into their personal oasis. After all, it's the social hub. A multitude of meals and cocktails are enjoyed out on the lanai. The ultimate accessory to all the furniture and media dedicated to this space is greenery. Everyone loves plants. They finish the look, whatever it may be. And on a lanai, it's all about container plantings.

Here are 5 key mistakes that I see regularly:

1) Suitability

This wrong plant in the wrong place. When you buy a plant, read the tag carefully. It's not always precise, but it's the proper guide. Don't put a plant that needs shade in a sunny spot.  Don't put varied types of plants in the same planter unless they all have the same basic needs and growing habits. Don't add more don'ts to your life.

2) Scale 

This refers not only to plant-to-planter proportions within the container, but also the container planting to its surroundings. If the scale isn't right, the look falls apart. Think about large houses with spacious front yards that have itty bitty shrubs planted right against the house. Don't even get me started on that one!

3) Size

People almost always err on the small side. What seems like a large piece of pottery at the store suddenly seems dinky when it's placed in its lanai space. Always go bigger than you think you should. It's a statement piece. Channel Liz Taylor and her diamonds.

4) Sustainability 

Can you really care for the plants you buy? I'm someone who can grow just about anything and I can't tell you how many plants I have lost here. The addictive tropical plants you see at the nursery are in a controlled environment with constant care. Divas should have it so good. If you aren't into consistent watering, fertilizing and trimming browning foliage, don't buy it. 

5) Seasonality 

Florida is a beautiful place to winter, and so many northerners do just that. So after you doll up your lanai once you get here, what do you do when you head back north? Hope your plants live through summer? Throw them out? Let them die and replace them next year? Sadly, one and done is often how it goes. Save that remorse for some future shopping spree.

Because of the open layout, lanai spaces demand bolder statements to make a visual impact. Grouping 4 decorative pots together makes this corner view a stunning focal point from any perspective.

Because of the open layout, lanai spaces demand bolder statements to make a visual impact. Grouping 4 decorative pots together makes this corner view a stunning focal point from any perspective.

With me as the basis for size perspective, you can see how much larger these 4 pieces are than you might have thought. At the store they seemed gigantic. When they are in place, they are perfect.

With me as the basis for size perspective, you can see how much larger these 4 pieces are than you might have thought. At the store they seemed gigantic. When they are in place, they are perfect.

If you just don't want to deal with all of this, don't!

You're not here to add more things to your to-do list, you're here to chill out and boost up your vitamin D level.  I can give your lanai the beauty injection it craves with container plantings that won't lose their looks.

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