Designlandscape designplant choicesChallenge and Opportunities of Waterfront Landscaping - PEER LANDSCAPING, Custom Design & Install, Fort Myers, FL

March 14, 2022by PeerLandscaping

Peer LandscapingThere is no shortage of waterfront properties in Lee County and the surrounding areas of Southwest Florida. You can find oceanfront homes, as well as properties on islands, rivers, lakes, harbors, canals, and bays. With waterfront homeownership, there comes a variety of unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to designing your landscaping. At Peer Landscaping, we’ve lived here our whole lives, so we know how to solve the landscaping problems waterfront properties can sometimes have, all while making sure your yard looks like the tropical oasis you’ve been longing for.

Maintaining the outdoor space of a waterfront property is not your typical landscaping project. You’ve got to balance the needs of your property against the environmental factors that affect the plants and yard. Especially if you are moving here from a northern, land-locked state, you will need the knowledge and experience of our professionals. Read on to learn why landscaping a waterfront property poses unique challenges, but also incredible opportunities, in Southwest Florida.

Perfect views

As a homeowner of waterfront property, we know you bought that property at least in part because of the gorgeous view. When creating your design, we certainly keep that view in mind. Our landscape design goal is to enhance, rather than obscure, the view of the water. That’s why we always consider what the design will look like in the future, instead of just thinking about the present. Otherwise, you may lose your view as trees and shrubs grow larger over the years. We’ve worked with all kinds of waterfront property, so you can be sure what we design will enhance that waterfront view.

Privacy vs. Access to water

Waterfront property offers some unique design challenges such as balancing access to the water, with some homeowners’ desire for privacy. Many waterfront homes have access to the water via docks, boat slips, decks, and seawalls, all of which leave the backyard wide open to the prying eyes of other boat owners, neighbors across the canal, or perhaps those people walking a public beach, if that’s what’s behind your house. If you are someone who lives on the water, but wants a little privacy, our waterfront landscape design will ensure that you have full access to seawalls or docks while also offering trees, plants, and shrubs that shield your property from nosy neighbors.

Exposure to the elements

Florida homeowners must consider exposure to the elements, which is one of the biggest challenges when choosing the perfect design for waterfront landscapes. There are challenges specific to each of the multiple types of waterfronts in Southwestern Florida. North- and west-facing properties are bound to experience salty, cold winds from the Gulf of Mexico. This type of wind can be destructive to a wide variety of plant life commonly used in landscape design. Plant life for a beach property, weather it is beach-facing or intracoastal-facing, should be selected with the salt spray in mind. Some homeowners are lucky enough to have properties that are protected by a harbor or cove. Those types of properties are less likely to experience cold wind exposure, and salty spray and open the door to more types of plants that can be used in the design.

Seasonal changes

Here in Southwest Florida, we pretty much experience two seasons, summer and winter. The main difference between those two seasons is the difference in humidity and precipitation. Summer here is hot, humid, and rainy. Winter is cooler and drier, with much less rain. Our landscape design takes these things into consideration by making sure you have good drainage for those rainy months, while also suggesting that you have proper irrigation installed for the dry winter months.

Florida has another season that doesn’t occur in most states. Hurricane season occurs from June 1 until November 30. Homeowners in the Sunshine State must deal with the constant fringe effects of this rainy, windy season. When having your waterfront home landscaped, it is important that your landscape design considers heavy rains and extreme wind. Our landscape design will take into consideration the need for drainage and proper irrigation in your plant and material choices. For instance, hardscapes that use bricks or pavers instead of concrete are better suited for waterfront landscapes in Florida because pavers allow rain to soak into the ground rather than runoff into the street or waterways.

Wildlife and conservation

We are living in the jungle here in Southwest Florida! As such, we have the luxury of having an expansive variety of natural wildlife that lives nowhere else in the world. When opting for the best waterfront landscape design however, there are some challenges presented by the state’s unique wildlife. The federal mandate called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act states that all raptors, birds of prey, and their nests must be protected. Along with these birds, Southwest Florida is home to many other protected species of animals include bald eagles and sea turtles. Since 1986, Lee County has worked with the Eagle Technical Advisory Committee (ETAC) and environmental science experts to preserve the habitat of Southern Bald Eagles. Homeowners in Lee County also need to consider other species of protected animals such as pocket gophers, wood storks, fox squirrels, eastern indigo snakes, and most species of tortoise.

Our well-designed landscape will always consider aspects that keep natural wildlife safe. An example of waterfront landscape designed with wildlife in mind is controlled nightscape lighting. Lights that stay on all night will draw sea turtles away from their natural mating habitat and towards your home. That threatens the well-being of the species, but it is easily corrected with the proper lighting design and type of lighting.

Plant selection

As landscapers, we would argue that the single most important aspect of landscape design for waterfront properties is plant selection. This is particularly true if you have Gulf Coast property. The Gulf of Mexico is salt water, just like Atlantic Ocean property. So using salt-tolerant plants is just one of the elements we must consider, along with animal conservation, privacy, preserving the view and aesthetic appearance of the overall design. Plant selection, in landscape design, does not just mean choosing the right plants. It also means knowing where to plant it and why. The most important part of landscaping on waterfront property is knowing the not all plants work on the water.

The list of trees, shrubs, palms, grasses, and flowers that will grow on a beach for example is limited due to the drought, soil, wind, salt, and heat beachfront property has. However, Florida is home to a large variety of plants to choose from when it comes to waterfront property, and being native to the region, we know exactly which plants do well with salt in the air and in the water. Some salt—tolerant plants to consider for a waterfront landscape design in Southwest Florida are, but are not limited to:

Trees for a waterfront property

  • Oak
  • Red Cedar
  • Clusia
  • Pandanus
  • Sea grape
  • Buttonwood palms
  • European fan
  • Coconut royal
  • Bismarkia
  • Sable
  • Paurotis

Ornamental Grasses for waterfront properties

  • Palmetto
  • Indian hawthorn
  • Agave
  • Carissa
  • Green Island ficusflowers
  • Lantana
  • Crown of thorns
  • Beach sunflower
  • Bulbine
  • Geranium

Plant protection and good stewardship

Much like the animal life that is protected in Southwestern Florida, there are many protected plant species as well. Plants such as joewood, mangrove trees, Curtis milkweed, and Florida Coontie are all native protected plants that can be found in Lee County. When considering your waterfront landscape design, we can’t disturb any of the protected species or endanger them. The best way to protect native endangered plant life is to practice good stewardship, and we will do so with our design. Good stewardship can include, but is not limited to:

– Buffering the zone between the shoreline and where your plants are placed.

– Using native species of trees shrubs and perennials that won’t be invasive or attract invasive species of pests.

– Only using phosphorous-free fertilizers

– Controlling the amounts of erosion and sedimentation caused by your landscape design

– Avoiding over irrigated areas that will affect the natural plant life, wildlife, and water sources.

– Keeping waste materials from spilling or spreading throughout the environment.

– Designing a space that promotes easy disposal of pet waste.

– Night lighting features that avoid attracting wildlife away from its native environment.


There are multiple ways we create a beautiful tropical landscape setting where you can enjoy your home on the water to the fullest. For example, waterfront property lends itself to serene, hardscaped sitting areas where you can hear the water ebb and flow. A perfectly enhanced garden bed that accentuates the view of the water from your home is another opportunity you could take advantage of with our waterfront landscape design. The opportunities are plentiful when it comes to the features you chose for your waterfront property’s landscape design.

Waterfront landscape design

When it comes down to it, the perfect landscape design is almost as complex as the inner workings of a clock. There are so many interlocking components that require each aspect of the design be working in order to provide the perfect tropical environment. Waterfront only adds an additional component to this already complex design.

That’s where our professional landscape design expertise comes in. It is important that you keep your wants and needs in mind during the landscape design process as well. Peer Landscaping can help you achieve this. We want you to dream big so when can make those big dreams a reality. Contact us at Peer Landscaping today to schedule an appointment to discuss your waterfront property’s landscaped space of your dreams. Call us today at (239) 645-6455.

Peer Landscaping is proud to be a part of our local community. We provide our services to those who live in Fort Myers or the surrounding areas of Southwest Florida.

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