Ten Tips for Turning Your Garden into a Tropical Oasis

January 30, 2018

The Southern California coastline offers an idyllic climate for outdoor living. More sunshine and less rain is a winning combination.

But water restrictions don’t bode well for a traditional grass heavy garden design. It’s time you shift your mindset to “island time.”

Follow these guidelines to create a functional, low-maintenance tropical garden oasis.


Build a Canopy

Every oasis requires shade. Once you have established a partial reprieve from the sun you will find it easier to develop the rest of your tropical garden.  

For that perfect oasis appeal think of using trees like the Canary Island date palm or the Brazilian pepper tree. Any shade giving tree will do but be sure to consult a garden professional for peace of mind that your larger arbors are utility friendly.


Lush Islands

Shun the boring lawn-framed-with-plants design and create islands of greenery dotted around your garden.

Each island should consist of multiple layers of shade trees, shrubs, flowering plants and ground cover.

You don’t need to commit to changing your entire garden in one fell swoop. Begin by choosing one area that already has a large shaded tree and build your oasis up around that.


Stepping Stones

Once you have installed a few islands of greenery connect you banks of layered tropical plants with stepping stones or smooth stone pathways.


Hidden Corners

Put the “Oh!” in oasis by placing comfortable outdoor furniture and water features in nooks along your pathways. If you want to tempt your family to spend more time outdoors a collection of hammocks, swinging seats and padded wicker chairs should be all you need.


Succulent Succulents

These hardy plants bring green to your oasis and require very little water once they are established. The mother tree grows offshoots known as pups that can be dug up and planted in other locations or even potted.

Aloe Vera is wonderful example of a useful and attractive succulent that requires minimal watering.

Spiky succulents are best kept away from pathways.


Go Native

Where possible use plants native to the region. Native plants are hardier and more likely to hold up to wind and heavy sun.


Pair with Care

Be aware of how you pair your plants. Growing grass around your palms will stunt the growth of both. Grass requires higher levels of nitrogen, which is harmful to palms. Healthy palms require urea, which burns grass.


Pot Textures

Instead of limiting yourself to containers of flowers, use planters to enhance the tropical feel of your garden. Fill them with a variety of textures, such as lemongrass, agave or cactus.


Aroma of the Tropics

Complete the atmosphere of your oasis by planting frangipani, jasmine and lemongrass to fill your garden and home with the scents of the tropics.  


Highlighting Nightlights

Tropical flowers are most fragrant in the early evenings making it a magical time to relax in your oasis. Uplighting allows you to Illuminate your trees and garden with the warm glow of outdoor lighting.

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