We’ve got butterflies! Monarchs, little yellow ones, a lavender one and a few others that I can’t wait to identify visiting our new landscaping. My DIY butterfly garden landscaping is about 4 weeks old and already has several butterflies visiting each day. We’ve finally started prettying up the outside of the house and I found a solution that looks beautiful, is environmentally friendly and low maintenance. I’m not just happy… I’m bouncing with excitement. Today is part 1 of a 2 part post on my DIY butterfly garden landscaping project that I’ve waited weeks to share with you all!
For you to truly understand my excitement, I think I should share how far we’ve come.
It’s been almost 3 years since we rolled up our sleeves and jumped into this project house. Silly me, thinking I’d have it done in a year.
When we moved in, the house wasn’t visible from the street. See that bush to the left? It covered the entire front yard. I’m not kidding… not even close. The front yard was an overgrown mess. We found the dog statue with a broken ear, and a lot more “hidden treasure” aka, junk, underneath and inside of the bush. See the white pvc pipe sticking up? That was the irrigation system, or I should call it the irritation system, because it didn’t work 🙂
My son Austin and I worked on it for weeks. Chopping and hauling huge piles of branches to the street for pick up.
And then we just left it. Our attention was all about the inside. We were focused on important things like the kitchen and bathroom remodel.
The week after I painted the house, we had a dumpster and a big flashy porta potty planted right in the middle of the yard….for 6 months while our awesome master bath project was in construction.
Needless to say, I’ve had a long time to think about landscaping, curb appeal and what I wanted/needed to do to make our house look good from the street. I knew I wanted something pretty, easy to maintain, and not drain the bank account.
Sodding the yard was never a consideration. Grass doesn’t grow well in our area, especially without the aid of chemicals and fertilizers. We don’t use either on the yard because we live on the water where dolphins swim by our dock every day.
What’s simple to maintain, pretty, and environmentally friendly?
Well…river pebbles are pretty and they remind me of the beach houses in the northeast where I grew up. That was my plan, simply to make my whole yard pebbles with a few native trees or bushes. It was a great plan, too…until I received the estimate. Gulp. Nope, not an option.
…And then a friend said why don’t you plant a butterfly garden using Fl natives?
Since I knew nothing about florida natives or butterflies, I started my new DIY butterfly garden landscaping project with a little research.
Before I could check out plants, I needed to identify our USDA hardiness zone, and our area’s characteristics. Here’s a good site to look up your hardiness zone or click here. You’ll also need to know details like your soil type. Is it sandy, clay or rich in organic matter? You’ll want to know how wet or dry your planned landscape area is and how much sun it gets.
I needed to see what the Florida native plants and butterfly friendly plants looked like to make sure I’d like them. Having the benefit of an experienced gardener and good friend who shared her books and lists of plants as well as a personal garden tour made that part easy. She also shared the North American Butterfly Garden Guides or click HERE website to get a list of butterfly friendly plants. Just click on your area in your state and you’ll get an excellent list of butterfly friendly plants for your state and local area.
With my gardens characteristics in mind, I made a list of the list of butterfly friendly plants that would work well in my yard. I picked my favorites based on color, mature size, growth habit, etc. Since I was planting a Monarch butterfly garden, I was careful to include plants that support the full life-cycle which included larva and nectar plants. I choose a dominant color theme from my list as well. I love how reds, oranges and yellows stand out against the deep grey blue color of my house.
Now that I had a list of which plants I liked, and would work in my yard, I started planning a layout. I made a rough draft of my front yard and the area I wanted to turn into my DIY butterfly garden and landscaping. I started designing my layout with the shapes of what I wanted each area to be filled with. I placed my plants in the same way I’d arrange a room. Starting with the biggest items first and working my way down to the small items or fillers. This is my landscape plan below. Simple, but it worked.
Not in big detail, just a few palm trees, bushes, groundcover and some accent plants. At this point I knew which palms and a few of the bushes I wanted. The rest of my selection was based on what mature shapes I needed in my DIY butterfly garden and landscaping. Basically, I planned my new space with color, texture and mature shape in mind and choose my plants to fit my design.
Ok, got all this? Are you ready to plan a butterfly garden or a new landscaping project of your own? Start with the above information and I’ll post part 2 next Thursday. That post will cover prepping the area, planting, edging, a fantastic mulch alternative, and a few more tips for attracting butterflies. Plus I’ll share an excellent free butterfly gardening printable you can download.
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