6 Dependable Ground Covers for Warm Climates

Gardening in hot regions includes a whole set of challenges: warm summers, dry shade, heavy rains, droughts and soils ranging from pure sand to impenetrable clay and soggy muck. But believe it or not, there’s certain to be a appropriate ground cover to your garden, no matter how warm, dry, shady or soggy it may be. These ground covers will give your garden a place where the eye may rest, and will give you a little more rest too, thanks to their undemanding nature.

A number of the crops listed here are also grown as shrubs or specimen plants, but they are too helpful to ignore as ground covers. Firecracker plant is often considered a shrub, but its delicate arching stems cover a whole lot of ground without obstructing the view. Cinnamon ginger is a bit on the taller side if you permit it to grow unchecked, but even then it creates a weed-suppressing tall ground cover that seems excellent paired with shorter ground covers like lilyturf.

Speckled Cast Iron Plant
(Aspidistra sichuanensis ‘Ginga’, syn. ‘Milky Way’)

This is a little and speckled relative of cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior, USDA zones 7b into 11), which is generally grown as a houseplant, but expect to see it branded as Aspidistra ‘Milky Way’ in nurseries. To be entirely honest, any Aspidistra plant will probably do the job very well as a ground cover in the landscape, irrespective of its title. This one just happens to be short enough to be utilized as a lawn substitute, superbly seen and readily available at local nurseries.

The only maintenance you will want to do for cast iron crops is that the occasional removal of dead leaves as they appear and division every couple of years. Not that you really should dig and replant them; they are so amazing and helpful that you’ll look forward to spreading them across the landscape.

Where it will grow: Evergreen in zones 7b into 11; find your zone
Water requirement: Reduced to ordinary; well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Full shade to partial sun
Mature size: 1 foot tall and two feet wide
Seasonal interest: Inconspicuous flowers; evergreen foliage year-round
When to plant: Spring to autumn

Dig Your Garden Landscape Design

(Bulbine frutescens ‘Hallmark’)

It has the drought tolerance of a succulent, the low and mountainous feel of a turfgrass, and spikes of the bright orange flowers of a, well, bulbine. Plant this South African indigenous as a foil for coarser plants, in the edge of flower beds or along paths, where the waving stalks of crimson blooms will bring in honeybees and butterflies. While any bulbine will work wonders for an outside area, the ‘Hallmark’ variety reseeds significantly less and is much easier to find in your nursery.

Bulbine Is drought tolerant and largely maintenance free, however it can benefit from mulching, deadheading and division in spring or autumn. In extremely hot, bright or dry situations, it may need extra irrigation or shade in summer to keep it moving until a rebloom in fall.

Where it will grow: Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 9 to 11) however resprouts in zone 8
Water requirement: Low; well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Partial to full sunlight
Mature size: 1 foot to two feet tall, eventually forming a two- to 3-foot clump
Seasonal interest: Orange flowers spring and autumn, sometimes in winter and summer
When to plant: Spring to fall

Cinnamon Ginger
(Alpinia nutans)

If your garden is too soggy or too shady for other ground covers, then you will love this plant. Also known as untrue cardamom ginger, cinnamon ginger appears like a dwarf version of the more widely increased shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet, zones 9 to 11) in each respect. Another noteworthy difference, however, is that the incredible scent of cinnamon you are able to smell upon crushing the leaves or cleaning up from the plant. Use cinnamon ginger for a ground cover or a accent in shade gardens or where you desire a lush and tropical look, no matter how small the space.

Its slow expansion allows you to trim the taller stems back every few years to keep it short, or you may allow it to grow up to 4 feet tall as a tall ground cover, so you will have a chance to witness its rare porcelain flowers.

Where it will grow: Remains evergreen to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 9b into 11) however resprouts in zone 7b into 11
Water requirement: Typical; tolerates standing water and drought once established
moderate requirement: Full shade to partial sun
Mature size: 3 to 4 ft tall and 4 to 5 ft wide
Seasonal interest: White and orange shell-shaped flowers are rare; develop it to the lush foliage.
When to plant: Spring to fall

Carolyn Chadwick

Society Garlic
(Tuhlbaghia violacea)

Edible garlic-flavored purple flowers on a drought-tolerant and grassy ground cover — what other reasons do you want to replace your yard with society garlic? Suffering colonies of this plant are seen in parking medians and hell strips where it’s hardy, but it responds well to routine watering and a occasional increase of fertilizer, and it may fill into form a weed-suppressing ground cover in just a few years.

The big blue and white flowers looming overhead in the photo below will be those of the oft-planted lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus, zones 7 to 11). It makes a great companion for society garlic, because both plants bloom at the same time, are from South Africa and thrive in more or less the very same problems. Insert a yellowish bulbine (Bulbine frutescens, zones 9 to 11) into the mix for a much more impressive display.

Where it will grow: Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 9 to 11) however resprouts in zone 7
Water requirement: Low; well-drained soil
moderate requirement: Partial to full sunlight
Mature size: 1 foot to two feet tall and wide
Seasonal interest: Purple flowers in summer and spring, occasionally in autumn and winter
When to plant: Spring to fall

(Liriope ‘Evergreen Giant’)

Lilyturf is common in households throughout the world because it gives the eye a place to rest on — much like turf grasses — but without the maintenance. It needs to be trimmed just twice a year, once in summer months before the first flush of new growth, and in autumn to eliminate the stalks of spent purple blooms and ripening berries. It’s not the end of the world if you fail to prune it all, however, and it will continue to form a much sexier deep green mass with each passing year.

Clumping lilyturfs like this one are not considered invasive. While I have not had any difficulties with Liriope spicata, a creeping relative of ‘Evergreen Giant’, it can spread rapidly via runners and is considered invasive by a few. But then again, are turfgrasses like St. Augustine. It should also be mentioned that Liriope is often confused with mondo grass(Ophiopogon, zones 5 to 11), and is an actual grass.

Secret Gardens

Where it will grow: Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 9 to 11) however resprouts in zone 7
Water requirement: Low
moderate requirement: Partial to full sunlight
Mature size: 1 foot to two feet tall and wide
Seasonal interest: Purple flowers in summer and spring, occasionally in autumn and winter
When to plant: Spring to fall

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Firecracker Plant
(Russelia equisetiformis)

Firecracker plant is a bit more unkempt than the other ground covers recorded here, but its airy and translucent demeanor keeps it from becoming overly visually obtrusive. It’s excellent for slopes or retaining walls, where its billowing and fragile stems can arch downward into a waterfall of tubular red flowers that hummingbirds can not resist.

It’s drought tolerant enough to be generally planted in the warmer regions of the American Southwest, also besides pruning errant stems, there’s minimal maintenance to worry about, particularly in the event that you plant it a few feet away from paths. The long and wispy stems seem fantastic when planted amongst architectural plants like agave and crinum, and firecracker plant can even be trained from walls and trellises in small spaces.

Where it will grow: Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 9 to 11), however resprouts in zone 8b
Water requirement: Reduced
moderate requirement: Partial to full sunlight
Mature size: Feathery stems form a mass around 3 ft tall.
Seasonal curiosity: Red tubular flowers spring through autumn, sometimes in winter
When to plant: Spring to fall

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7 Pro Lighting Tips for Budding Home Photographers

It’s simple to decide on a camera to car mode and let it do everything for you nowadays. Frequently the photos seem pretty great. However, the difference between creating average photographs and a few of the best interior and architectural graphics comes from becoming more intentional.

While spontaneous photos can be whimsical and beautiful, photographing interiors takes more control over the lighting. Picking out the proper time of day, fill-in Photoshop or light touches can help create the best photo.

Professional photographers develop a style and look to their lighting, which can be very subjective and change with time. Many inside photographers now go to get a more conventional, soft feeling into the lighting. The view outside any windows is bright and a little blurry, which helps the viewer focus more on the inside.

Whether you are shooting on the move with your telephone or using professional equipment, below are a few lighting advice that could take your photos from average to amazing.

Amy Lau Design

1. Soften the lighting. Cameras are essentially light recorders, however the range of what you are able to see and what a camera could see (or record) differs. The tonal selection of light areas and dark regions needs to be less intense, fitter and balanced than that which we could see for the photograph to be properly exposed with today’s cameras.

In this photo the photographer additional side lights around the left and right to provide dimension to the chairs and balance the lighting levels.

Butler Armsden Architects

2. Utilize all lighting. If you are a nonprofessional, try using only natural light first. On-camera flashes often light things up near the camera too much and do not offer enough lighting in the background.

The north-facing window in this photograph provided the most of the light, although I did add some fill light into the foreground.

LLC & Sons, Ellen Grasso

3. Plan your take time. If you can plan your take at the early morning or late day, when the tonal range is smaller, the need for additional lighting declines. The sunlight is not as direct at those occasions and will filter in through windows to create organic shadows that add life into a photograph.

Avoid shooting right into sunlight, too — it is better for sunlight or daylight to come in the side. And research how fixing the drapes can control the lighting.

Alexander James Interiors

4. Maintain the light consistent. Certain spaces also need various kinds of light to minimize color distortion. Ideally, all the light types from the area should be the same. It’s often necessary to utilize fill lights using a flash that is separate from the camera to diffuse light through a space.

This photograph has a great deal of fill light to match the light level inside with the light level outside.

Koo de Kir

5. Change the lighting with various bulbs. Artificial fluorescent lighting have a tendency to create a cooler feel, providing a space a blue-green cast. Turn off these lights when you can. Tungsten lights produce a warmer feel, like the light a candle would exude. Now the tendency is to turn off tungsten lights and have a brighter feel with natural lighting.

This photograph has all daylight coming from the windows and bouncing back into the space off the wall out of the frame on the right side.

6. Maintain the specifics sharp. Most architects and designers need the details of a space to be in focus. Attempt to keep your f-stop at f/16 or greater when shooting interiors.

The f-stop lets you know how big the aperture (opening) the lens is using to select the picture. The f-stop number is somewhat counterintuitive; the bigger the number, the more light will come through the lens. But using a bigger aperture, less area in the photograph will be in focus, which means you ought to find the appropriate balance.

Heydt Designs

7. Utilize a tripod. Placing your camera onto a tripod is able to help you utilize a more exposure whenever you are using a small aperture and prevent blurry images. The target is to stay away from deep shadows and decrease blown-out (overexposed) regions where there’s too much light.

This photograph had an exposure that has been four seconds long, and the camera was on a tripod.

Inform us : What lighting tips and tricks have you heard?

Get additional guides on how to photograph Your Home

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3 Reasons Why You Might Want a Designer's Assist

Let us get 1 thing out of the way right now: You do not have to be rich to work with a designer. In fact, working with the perfect professional can actually help you save money, stress and time, and may stop more than a couple DIY disasters. I am not saying that we could all manage the fabulous Martyn Bullard (since we can’t), however there are lots of fantastic designers who are delighted to work with individuals within an affordable, per-project basis — selecting paint colours, finding the ideal window coverings and so on.

Interior design today is all about creative cooperation. Gone are the times of designers coming in and implementing their aesthetic on everyone at any price — unless you need that, of course. The most gorgeous homes frequently are a direct manifestation of a great client-designer relationship — one which you could have, too.

Charlie Barnett Associates

Why and How to Collaborate With a Designer

1. You have the vision but just can’t seem to pull it all together. Sometimes you know what you want, but you do not understand how to get it. For many homeowners, picking out a nice sofa is not the problem; it’s hoping to pair that sofa with a rug. Maybe you have all of the base pieces set up, however your living area lacks personality or warmth. Maybe you want an integrated breakfast nook but have no idea whom you need to call or how to arrive.

I have had multiple customers tell me how ashamed they are that despite spending hundreds of bucks and trying over and over again they can’t obtain their rooms to appear the way they want. The truth is, not everyone is a style expert; just like I wouldn’t ever try to do operation, not everyone should construct a bookcase.

Design truth: There’s no right or wrong way to look for a home where lifestyle and functional needs are met. There are merely different interpretations of objects and space and how they relate to one another.

Reiko Feng Shui Design

2. You are in the breaking point and require help with a new beginning. Several years ago I needed a late-night powwow with a customer and her husband. Matters had been tense, so I requested the husband to voice his concerns. He said, “I truly don’t mind that we’re working with a designer, but what I do mind is spending a lot of money on more stuff that we’re probably going to end up replacing following year.”

This was a moment of ephiphany. His wife, in her well-meaning attempts to make the home of her dreams, had invested a good deal of money on stuff that didn’t fit the space, eventually boxing up it and buying more stuff. All her husband watched was money flowing out, rather than relaxation coming in.

Often, by the time individuals have called at a designer, they have given it their best shot (many times over), and a person at the house is at the breaking point. Regrettably, not everything that’s been bought should remain. You might want to clean the decks a little to build a better base for the space. If you aren’t eager to part with specific pieces, make sure to let your designer understand up front.

Design truth: It shouldn’t be a designer’s way or the highway. Layout is a collaborative process where a designer honestly tells you what works and what does not to make the space of your dreams.

Emily A. Clark

3. You’re ready to get what you want. Above all, interior design is a service-oriented profession — the customer’s satisfaction is the main aim. These tips may help you have a positive and productive encounter with a designer:Have a general idea of what you want to spend, including designer fees. Remember that it does not all need to happen at once (you can decorate in phases), but be realistic about what you’re willing to devote a whole lot on (a sofa, a new mattress) and what matters are less durable (throw pillows). A designer can help you understand if you are on target or will need to expand your vision. Figure out what you are willing to part with and what absolutely must remain. Consider which things will really work in a refreshed space and do your best to be receptive to ideas. If you have a partner, make sure you’re both on precisely the same page in regards to everything you’re looking for. A designer will help alleviate compromise and illustrate points, but probably won’t be able to solve profound domestic disputes. Respect each other. A designer’s “product” is your ability and expertise he or she brings to every project. The way a space is staged along with the positioning of objects is a concrete manifestation of a designer’s worth. Request your designer about his or her conclusions. You bring precious viewpoints to a project which can make it all come together. A climate of mutual respect can go miles toward a positive relationship.

Coveted Home

Remember, a designer’s chief goal is to transform your space into a awareness of your own likes, wants and requirements. But most designers are only as good as you allow them to be. Honesty, open communication, trust and a willingness to stretch your creativity are the keys to making the most of a client-designer relationship.

More: Use the directory to find a designer near you

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One Pot, One Huge Shot of the Tropics

To add a stunning touch to your house with something tropical and tall, look no farther than the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana). It’sone of the all-time-most-popular palm houseplants. Unlike many other palm species, Kentia can manage low sun exposure, ac and heat. Additionally, it is quite tolerant of neglect. Just 1 consideration: Make sure you have plenty of space and an adequate ceiling height, because these tropical infants prefer to grow and grow and grow.

Period Homes, Inc..

This collection of three potted palms at an Dallas display house space conveys the sensation of a traditional conservatory, as a result of the lush tropical underplanting in each container, using arching fronds which fill the vertical space.

Whether a fantasy decor is a casual beach fashion or something nearer to the formal grandeur of a Victorian hand court, Kentia palm can help you get there.

Todd Peddicord Designs

A billiards room filled with antiques and old-world style appears to be an exotic empire-style jungle destination. Large pots filled with Kentia palm since the “thriller” and Boston fern since the “spiller” make a tropical ambience that is incomparable.

Henderson Design Group

An elegant Victorian home furnished with neutral decor is the best place for a tall Kentia palm, which makes a connection to the lush landscaping outside. Orange and yellow pillows and decorative accessories produce a joyous dance of color together with the philodendron leaf arrangement and also the feather-like green palm fronds.

Not surprisingly, a Kentia palm appears right at home at a timeless house in Portland, Oregon, built at the close of the Victorian era; palms became popular in that period and were a key element of Victorian parlor style.

Bon Vivant

An elegant Miami house with white walls and hardwood flooring (and of course a great skylight, which crops adore) becomes a taste of heaven with the accession of Kentia palms.


A single palm appears right at home amid contemporary furnishings in this New York coastal high-rise, and is a nice diversion from the massive column one often finds in contemporary construction.

As is clearly seen here, at least 2 Kentia palms are usually needed in 1 container for a full-looking arrangment, depending on the size of these plants.

Get Back JoJo

How to Take Care of Your Kentia Palm

Temperature: 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 20 degrees Celsius) is Best.

Light: It prefers areas with partial shade, not full sun. It’ll tolerate a somewhat dark corner inside.

Water: Water only when the uppermost soil layer is dry. Mist the plant to simulate humidity and to stop spider mite infestation, which may happen with dust buildup. Overwatering will cause root rot, and underwatering may cause yellow tips which can turn to brown. When the leaves and stalks aren’t standing upright, as they ought to, try out a deep watering, assuming there is enough drainage.

Soil: Sandy with good drainage, though Kentia is flexible to many different soil conditions. Since the plant is quite slow growing, you’ll most likely keep it in the exact same container for many years. Replace old, spent dirt (above the root ball) occasionally.

Feeding: Employ an 18-18-18 slow-release specialized palm fertilizer in accordance with the package instructions once or twice per year, at the summer and spring.

General: Avoid repotting, however it’s necessary, be very cautious when handling the main ball. The Kentia is a palm with roots.

Other Considerations

Air purification:
Kentia is good at cutting edge VOC levels — toxins that are released by cleaning supplies, printers and other family items.

Pets: Kentia is nontoxic.

Natural surroundings: Lord Howe Islands, east of Australia, where the single-trunk tree grows relatively slowly, attaining an average mature height of 20 feet. Long stalks produce bunches of white flowers, which turn into little, red, egg-shaped fruits.

A note on identity: The Kentia palm may look similar to the Parlor hand, and can be wrongly called by this name. While they both make good houseplants, the Parlor palm will stay quite small and is generally utilized at a pot onto a tabletop, while the Kentia can become quite tall.

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An Atlanta Attic Welcomes a Light-Filled Toilet

Having a baby on the way, this couple required to make more room in their starter home, so they hired designer Brian Patterson to reestablish their unfinished attic into a master suite and nursery. The loft’s architecture introduced a few challenges for designing the restroom, but Patterson made the most of its magical slants and nooks, developing a classic 140-square-foot space full of light. The renovation included period details that honor the home’s history when creating a brand new, light-filled room with all the amenities on the couple’s wish list.

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

Patterson made the most of the low-ceilinged spaces, tucking the tub, which necessitates less headroom, into this particular corner. “The pitches in here feel quite magical; they give a room a cabin feel,” he says.

Bathtub: Vintage Bath, Kohler; flooring tile 3/4-inch hex tile, American Olean; wall tile: 3-by-6 subway tile, American Olean; wall paint: North Star, Sherwin-Williams

Before Photo

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

BEFORE: The raw area contested Patterson to match in everything about the couple’s wish list, including his-and-her sinks, another water closet for the bathroom and another tub and shower.

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

AFTER: Soothing monochromatic neutrals give a good backdrop for private rolls. “Your spouse has really great flavor, and her picks actually warm up the area,” Patterson says. These include the classic table, Oriental rug and basket for the towels.

This new window with an arched transom altered the window seen in the prior picture. Patterson made bouncing tons of natural lighting around the area a priority.

Chandelier: The Big Chandelier; sconces: Belle Sconce, Pottery Barn (discontinued); pedestal sinks: Elizabethan Classics; taps: Colonial in polished chrome, Jado; mirrors: Pottery Barn, (discontinued; see a similar model here)

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

“We used basic and traditional materials and allowed the architecture to dictate the experience,” Patterson says.

The walk-in shower is tucked into a dormer. Patterson changed the hip of this dormer to a gable to match it. The arched window is cleverly disguised as a complete window on the facade of the home (see below).

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

The architecture also inspired classic stage information, such as subway tile in the walk-in shower, hexagonal tile on the ground and beadboard on the walls, honoring the pedigree of this 1930s home.

A clear glass shower door allows the rest of the room to gain from the window’s natural lighting. Similarly, the toilet is split from the rest of the suite by French doors, which allow the bedroom to profit from all the pure lighting.

Before Photo

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

BEFORE: In addition to renovating the attic, Patterson added curb appeal to the home. This included changing out the windows and dormers, beefing up the woodwork around the front doorway and camouflaging the strange woodwork on the left side of the home with shutters.

Brian Patterson Designs, Inc..

AFTER: The dormer on the far right is the one that houses the walk-in shower; the arched window between the sinks is about the right side of the home. Patterson added shutters beneath the arch on the exterior to trick the eye into thinking there’s a complete window there. The home is now big enough for a family, having a relaxing retreat for Mother and Dad.

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Oh Say, Can You Believe These 200 Star-Spangled Stairs?

After quitting her town job and moving into a beach cabin in northwest Michigan to start a new life together with her loved ones, Erin Southwell was in no place to invest additional money. “We had been living on savings and a prayer, literally,” she says of the first year in her new residence. But she wanted her family to live in a gorgeous property. Tackling the stairs was on her record.

Project at a Glance
What: Staircase makeover
Location: Northwest Michigan
Cost: Under $200

With $200 and elbow grease, Southwell changed a 1970s shag-carpeted stairway into a cheery beach-inspired space.

“We’re delighted with how it turned out,” she says. “I just wanted a casual, bright, whitewashed look for a beach cabin for our young family. My husband did not want me to run up a credit card. We call it a win-win.” The stairs lead from the home’s living area into the upstairs bedrooms.

Before Photo

BEFORE: Although the cabin was constructed in 1888, it was remodeled in the 1970s: shag carpeting, wood paneling, the functions.

Before they place a deal on the home, Southwell had uttered a peek at what had been under the carpet — luckily, it was hardwood. But once the carpet was wrapped up, she realized the wood staircase would have to be refinished.

AFTER: With the staircase professionally refinished wasn’t in Southwell’s budget. “I couldn’t stand to live with it the way that it had been, and I knew the only way I was going to have the ability to alter it was to find creative and DIY it,” she says.

After yanking the rug, she spent several hours pulling up the carpet tack strips and principles with pliers. After sanding and cleaning, she implemented three to four coats of white Kilz primer and one coat of white latex porch and flooring paint into the staircase, trim and railing.

How to Paint Your Hardwood Floors

Before Photo

BEFORE: The bannister has been required, but it had a little something special too.

AFTER: Southwell screwed in a classic newel — located online for $10 — into the end place for additional charm.

Of course, the bright yellow stair runner would be the star of this staircase. Southwell desired a bright yellow to tie with the cottage’s other beachy accents; she found this runner at Garnet Hill, installing it using carpet tacks and staples.

Southwell completed the DIY nearly a couple of years ago, and it has held up well — despite the tear and wear of a toddler running around. “You do not have to spend a great deal of money or have mad DIY skills — I truly do not! — to really have a gorgeous home,” she says.

What’s your success story? Show us your before and following below!

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