battle of the sexes/landscaping dilemma

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i don't know if this habit is peculiar to florida or is practised all over the US, but it is causing a squabble here! i would like input from fellow floridians.
whether it be a new home or an old, i see foundation plantings right up against the houses with no thought as to what will happen when the plant attains full growth, etc. it can't be good in other respects ie: ventilation, pest problems, watering, not to mention the yuck on the house.
our house has wide overhangs and since we are starting from scratch on the plantings, i want to do this right the first time.
my question is: do i plant directly under the dripline of the roof or slightly back or slightly forward? i will be amending the soil and mulching heavily no matter which direction i go. john feels planting under the dripline will be the best because the plant will break the splash of the rain while i think it will break the plant and disturb the roots constantly.
please tell me what to do! thanks, debi

Casselberry, FL(Zone 9b)

Sigh - yours is a 2 person debate, mine is with myself. Does that qualify as 2 person???

Anyway, I think if the plant is tender, it will break easily with the force of the water falling. Otherwise, if it is a tough plant, then it should be just fine. The leaves should diffuse the water so it isnt hitting the roots full force. I have noticed where I have mulch, there is not much of a well defined drip line, either.

My other debate is whether to put climbinb plants to grow directly on the house. Wouldnt they invite critters? But then, the house is sitting on the ground and critters dont really need another method of crawling on your house - as evidenced by the lizards all over the sides!

Did i help you? Did I confuse you? Either way - you are not alone!!!


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

yes, this helps, it's a start anyway. i agree about the weaker branched plants. i think they would all look better staggered so that could work well. as far as putting climbing plants on the house. i guess it depends on the kind. ivy type plants will stick right to the house and if you have to pull it off for some reason, that can be a nightmare. if the plant needs support then are you going to have to anchor right to the house? i think florida isn't the best place in the world to be having plants right on the house. that's my opinion. debi

Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)

I read something recently that said it was found that plants growing on your house doesn't damage your house. The reality, it's the moisture that builds up on and around the plant that does the damage. If you are going to have plants growing up the side of your house, make sure you have painted it recently and hopefully with a low lustre paint that will not readily absorb the moisture. Next time when you are ready to paint, you will either have to tear the plant down, or paint around it. (This coming from a professional house paint)

For the drip edge, at my old house there was one corner that all the water from the entire front of the house came down in one spot. The water had eroded the soil so bad, tree roots were exposed. Since I was trying to make a flower bed on that side of the house I needed to deflect the water some way.

I bought one of those bushy type palms in a 5 gallon pot. I cut the bottom out of the pot and set it on the eroded area. I took retaining blocks and built them around the pot to hold it in place. It worked excellent. Quit eroding the soil, deflected water to other plants and the palm loved it, doubling in size with a couple years.

So, basically, if you planted some shrubbery that eventally will grow hardwood stems, you certainly should plant them under the drip line. This allows room for growth behind the plant and water coming off the roof will be deflected by the plant. Hibiscus or crotons would do well and give you lots of color with either.


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks molly! good advice. i guess i will have to tell john that he won! at least partly. the podacarpus can go under the dripline and the galphemia behind it. i know that would break to pieces! i am putting in one hibiscus coccineus by the front door. the ac drip pipe is right there, so the hc should be happy with the moisture.

Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)

You are very welcome Debi


Brisbane, Australia(Zone 10a)

I have been thinking about foundation plantings recently while reorganizing our garden.

Our extension service (Duval County) recommends a 1 foot dead zone (no vegetation or mulch) one foot around the house. Then the plants (full grown) starting 3 feet from the house. So to follow these guidlines you would have to plant a large shrub pretty far out from the house. ie. a shrub that's expected to get 5 feet wide would have to be started 8 feet out. Or serious pruning would have to be done to keep branches 3 feet out. These recommendations have to do with termite prevention, apparently.

Also, many plants dont like being in the water dumped off the house. I think I lost a bottle brush in a foundation planting during the heavy rains in the early summer due to wet feet. I had problems with mold on hydrangeas that were right under the drip line too.

I have seen a product advertized in horticultural magazines that turns roof runoff into little droplets that spray out from the house. Might try them myself as the rain off my roof cuts a line in my sandy soil.

Also, if you plant things a bit out from the house, you should be able to see them from your windows better! And you can also shrink the lawn some for less mowing hassles. And you could get to your house easier for painting etc.

So I may move our borders out from the house over time.


Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)


Being a housepainter myself and having just today been stabbed and poked and prodded by bushes planted too close to the house, I agree with that clearance theory totally. (Specially with bouganvilla and sable palms)


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

Sarah, very good info. it gives me alot to think about, but it all makes sense. we have 2 houses side by side and we aren't sure, all of a sudden, which one we want to live in. the one we are in now is no landscaping problem. we can do what we want pretty much. the other house (and i think the one we are going to end up keeping) is a big dilemma. there is a black circle driveway that comes all the way up to the house. there is a fairly small strip of ground, maybe 5' wide that runs the length of the house and graduates to about 10 at the other end. between the dripline and the curb is about 2 of those feet at the narrow end. i know i'm making it sound even more complicated. i think i have to be very particular in regards to what i plant. it faces west so in the heat of the day, not only are the plants baking in front of the brick wall, they have black driveway in front of them. maybe i need concrete statues of plants! LOL we are going to plant shade trees on the grassy circle on the other side of the drive, but that is going to take some time to amount to any kind of shade. debi

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

molly, at least we are doing one thing right! both houses are brick with wood trim and we are having the trimwork painted before we landscape! one of them was started today actually. plummy brown brick with tiny maroon flecks and we chose Behr exterior satin in Cinnamon Cherry. they finished the front today and i have to say it looks fabulous-i'm really excited. debi

Brisbane, Australia(Zone 10a)

Yes, its a quandry, the heat and sun of the afternoon and the occasional drenching from the roof. What can survive it? There are a few things that seem to be very tough. I see them thriving in full sun in our area. Hibiscus, allium, ruellia and lantana (boring but tough) come to mind. Your narrowest strip is close to parking lot conditions. You may want to check out what's being used sucessfully in or near parking lots in your area. But you never know, I have an azalea in full south sun, under the drip line of the roof, between the driveway and the house and, believe it or not, it's doing very well.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

Barksey, what do you think of the idea of crinum asiaticum purpurea and alpinia zerembet between them but back alittle so they would get alittle sunblock? i have very good drainage in that spot, so it's not like it's going to stay soggy all of the time, just periodic drenchings. Or, as was the case in this wierd summer, a drenching every day! LOL but as a rule i doubt that will happen every summer. debi

Brisbane, Australia(Zone 10a)

Crinums are as tough as nails in my experience and can tolerate full blasting sun with ease. Alpina likes soils a little moist and partial shade so you may have to irrigate a little as well (if things get dry for you) as well as set them back. That combo should be visually interesting if the Alpina co-operates. Interesting that you got drenching rains everyday! Here we had a long, long hot hot dry spell broken only by Katrina and Ophelia.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

Florida is one crazy weather state. everybody up north thinks it's all sunshine and roses down here, well, not roses, but you know what i mean. we moved here to Umatilla from the Keys last November. we started out with the longest cold spell that any local could remember, not the coldest temps. just day after day after day of overcast and wool coats. then we got into spring and the next day it was summer and it started raining june 1 and didnt quit till the middle of august. when we lived in the keys we would look at the news everyday and be thankful we weren't in so fla because of the daily thunderstorms. it hardly ever rained in the keys except alittle in june, september and usually a good pour in feb. i would pray for rain, but not the downpours miami got. according to the local weather out of orlando, this is a pretty normal occurance for this area. a huge thunderstorm every afternoon. i was never afraid of lightning before, but i tell you, after this summer, i mean it was really frightening. i would hurry up and get things done and be home by noon so as not to get caught in it. o well, it's not a weather thread, so that's enough of that.
anyway, i had beautiful crinums in the keys in full sun and my alpinia was shaded but the salt down there was hard on them. they never got very pretty. here i see them looking spectacular, even in pretty full sun. i think i will try it and hope for the best. the whole place is irrigated so watering wont be a problem if i need to. it comes out of the lake we are on, so it's good, fishy water too. thanks for your input. any other suggestions would be most welcome. debi

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

here is the strip of land i was talking about. we are looking into Rainhandler Gutters to alleviate the erosion problem. they sound great. i ordered Crinum Sangria, a purplish burgundy leaf variety and i have phormiums and alot of other stuff i could put there. nothing going in the ground yet tho. still contemplating! thanks, debi

Thumbnail by trackinsand
(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)


Where did you get your Crinum Sangria and were you happy with how it arrived- quality/ value/etc?



mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

hi maggie,

i purchased the sangria from and they (2) were the most expensive plants i ever purchased online. 30 a piece-whoa!!! it could be said that i have more money than sense, but i don't have any money! LOL anyway, i found a plant there that i had to have and it was only 12 but that didn't meet the minimum order, so i ordered the sangria and then decided on 2 of them. they aren't tall yet, but the bulb was fairly good sized and they are healthy. i repotted until i decide where they are going and i have new leaves coming out. the company seems ok, but i am spoiled from dealing with ecolage, a company wiped out (i think) by rita. delights was slow in shipping and in answering e-mails, but all in all i would recommend them if you are looking for a particular plant. i have no idea if 30 is reasonable for a lily or very high. seems high to me, but it is the one i wanted so you know how that goes. on the good side their shipping is cheap. 10 for all 3 plants. debi

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

I'm in Orlando, we don't have drip lines, we have deluge lines from April through September! Don't forget the downpours when planning your new landscape, they can reak havoc on plants, large and small.

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