backyard oasis with benches patio and landscaping

Your Guide to Designing a Backyard Tropical Oasis in Florida

Lots of people, when craving a backyard tropical oasis, face some obstacles.

Like shoveling snow from around their crotons and palm trees. Also, their crotons and palm trees are dead. (We said there were obstacles.)

Not everybody can have a backyard where every day feels like vacation. 

But here in warm, sunny Florida, a backyard tropical oasis can thrive. Hot sun. Humidity. A rainy season. You can almost watch your leafy pals grow. 

Then, soak it all in. Gaze up at your majestic palm trees from your comfy hammock. Admire the stunning tropical foliage and flowers. Sip cocktails surrounded by flickering tiki torches. 

How to create a backyard oasis? Easy. Or, it will be, once you read this.


Slip on your Hawaiian shirt and let’s get to it.

Table of Contents

1. Getting Started with Your Landscape Design
2. Hiring a Professional Landscape Designer vs. DIY​
3. Choosing the Right Plants for Your Backyard Tropical Oasis​
4. Designing the Layout and Features of Your Landscape
5. Enhancing the Tropical Vibe with Lighting
6. Maintaining and Caring for Your Backyard Tropical Oasis
7. How to Choose a Landscape Designer to Install Your Tropical Oasis in Sarasota, FL

1. Getting Started with Your Landscape Design 

It’s kind of overwhelming, right? How big should the patio be? Do you need a fire pit? What plants will work best? Where can you buy those fun little umbrellas for tropical cocktails? ​​Take a deep breath. 

What you need to do first is quite a bit of thinking. And staring. Sit out there and start jotting down your thoughts. What’s your backyard like right now? How do you want it to be different? 

When you try to enjoy yourself out there, what’s in the way? What could be better? 

Collect Ideas​

Have fun with this! ​Gather all your Pinterest pins and magazine photos of backyard tropical oasis ideas. It gives you a great sense of what you’ll love out there. ​​customers walking yard looking at plants
Make lists. What are your favorite colors? What activities do you want to happen out there? Lots of entertaining? Cozy coffee mornings? Swarms of hungry teenagers? 

​​If you had to pick five must-have backyard tropical oasis ideas, what would they be? ​​

You don’t have to be in this alone, fumbling out back with a measuring tape. This is what a great landscape designer in Sarasota Fl is for. ​​Yes, there’s a bunch of stuff to do, from assessing your backyard space and planning a layout to listing landscape priorities and deciding how much you can spend on landscaping costs. 

Can you use some help?

2. Hiring a Professional Landscape Designer vs. DIY

Maybe you think you can save some money and do your own Florida tropical landscape design. (Insert sound of ominous organ music.)

Are you sure you know what you’re doing? 

There are lots of reasons why you should hire a professional landscape design and installation in Sarasota FL. 

Designers Know Stuff You Don’t Know 

They were trained in this, remember? You’re a teacher. Or a lawyer. Or a soccer coach. Nobody expects you to know this stuff. 

What kind of stuff? Proper plant spacing, for one. It’s super important. 

Some palm trees grow to be 20, 30, 40 feet tall, with massive root balls. Do you have room?

Better to know now, as you plan your backyard tropical oasis, not in five years, when you have to hire an excavator to haul it out. 

designer customer consultation looking at designs
Areca Palms, with their full, dense fronds, can grow to 10 feet wide. Sure, it’s a cute little guy when you buy it, 3 feet tall. Maybe you plant it a couple feet away from your pool. That would look great, right? 

Then, five years later, it’s lifting up the pool deck like the Incredible Hulk and we have to come excavate it. 

A designer would have saved you the hassle and money.

It’s hard to think of everything. One of our clients was planning a walkway on the left side of his house. But all his swimming pool equipment was on the right side — with no access for the pool service guy who would be visiting weekly. 

Designers think of things you might forget in your tropical landscape design layout. Like creating a patio big enough to accommodate that huge outdoor furniture set you already bought. Or boring stuff like drainage issues that are actually really important. 

A good designer will ask you a ton of questions. 

Do you need privacy from noisy neighbors? Do you have four dogs? Do you host every family reunion? 

The answers will help make sure your landscaping really works for your lifestyle.

Do you know how to plan your tropical oasis backyard so that flowers and plants have staggered bloom times? That way, your landscape will always look great, with plants blooming year-round, with intriguing foliage mixed in that always looks cool. 

A great landscape designer in Sarasota will offer innovative backyard tropical oasis ideas that hadn’t occurred to you and keep you from making costly mistakes.

Speaking of landscaping costs, a great landscape designer can help you figure this out, too, including suggesting how to create your backyard tropical oasis in stages, to spread out the cost. 

We’ll create a tropical landscape design layout based on the landscape elements you really want.​​ When you get the plan, everything is itemized. You’ll know how much each individual feature costs, from the fire pit to the patio to the pergola.  ​​

pergola in backyard with plants and deck
That way you can decide, if needed, what you can live without and what areas are must haves. ​​Our landscape design team will produce high-quality drawings or 3D renderings, complete with plant lists, stone and hardscape selections, and a detailed proposal. ​​You’ll be able to picture your new backyard tropical oasis before the first shovel breaks ground.

3. Choosing the Right Plants for Your Backyard Tropical Oasis

There are so many amazing plants for your Florida tropical landscape design, things could get out of hand. 

It’s not like the candy store, where you can just say, “I’ll take one of everything!” (Or maybe that’s just us.)

landscape maintenance planters
How to choose the best tropical plants for landscaping in Florida? Keep a few things in mind: 

Do You Have Enough Sunlight? 

A tropical oasis backyard needs plenty of sun. Do you have it? Don’t plant a bunch of sun-loving plants if they won’t grow and thrive. 

Natives Love It Here

You can’t go wrong with native plants. They’re from here, so they’ll automatically do well in your Florida tropical landscape design. 

Here’s just one to get you started: beach sunflowers. 

They’re native to Florida, so they love our sandy soil and salt spray.  They flower on and off year-round, and unlike traditional sunflowers that tower overhead, beach sunflowers stay at a tidy 18 inches tall. 

Pick a Pretty Palm

You can’t have a backyard tropical oasis without palms. 
They offer that vacation resort vibe everybody craves. 

Use one to pretty up your pool deck. Two can perfectly anchor an indulgent hammock. (What’s a tropical paradise without a hammock?) Heck, add a grove of them, in a variety of types and heights. You’ll never want to leave. 

Sure, we’re known for palms around here, but there are other great trees, too.  

Southern live oaks offer amazing shade. Royal Poinciana are flush with flame-red spring blooms, adding bursts of color. Trees anchor your landscaping, offer shade and make a statement. front yard with large palm trees

Low Maintenance? No Problem  

It’s OK to admit you’re sort of lazy. Maybe say you have “significant pressing priorities” and don’t have time for yard maintenance. That sounds better. Either way, you’re in luck. 

Some plants for your Florida tropical landscape design don’t need a ton of tending. 

Asiatic Jasmine ‘Minima,’ a sturdy, easy-care plant, is often used as a ground cover to replace grass — it’s drought tolerant and needs just a yearly mowing to keep it tidy. 

Big-Time Bloomers

Maybe you’re a flower fanatic. How to create a backyard oasis that’s almost always in bloom? 

Say hi to hibiscus, the ultimate tropical flower, with huge vibrant blooms that transform a ho-hum yard into a luxurious paradise.

Bougainvillea is a great pick, too. It will bloom all year with stunning colors if it’s in full sun. 

Protect Your Pooch

Some pretty plants are poisonous to pets. Make sure your yard is as safe and welcoming to Princess and Pogo as it is to you and avoid dangerous varieties. Trust a knowledgeable Sarasota landscape design and installation team to help you choose pet-safe plants.content-dog-playing-in-safely-treated-lawn

4. Designing the Layout and Features of Your Landscape 

Here’s where the fun starts. What will your tropical landscape design layout look like? 

Make sure it fits the way you really want to live out there. Pinterest photos are great for inspiration, but this tropical backyard oasis is for you — not a bunch of strangers. 

How will you be living your life out there? 

Do you own four “Kiss the Cook” aprons and can’t wait for an outdoor kitchen? (Hint to relatives: no more “Kiss the Cook” aprons, please.) 

Do you need a private hideout where you can crochet your little fruits and vegetables without anybody making fun of you? Private pergola, perhaps? 

private patio customers sitting and enjoying a glass of wine
Design for your needs, and you’ll love it out there. 

Here are some Florida tropical landscape design ideas to ponder: 


Patios, walkways and retaining walls are the hard-working backbone of your Florida landscaping. Start here.

A patio is an extension of your home — a great outdoor social space. So why not design it as a collection of different outdoor “rooms” for different purposes?

One area for dining, with a great table and chairs. Another for lounging, with a comfy outdoor sofa. Ready for s’mores? Move the party over to the fire pit area and pull up a cool Adirondack chair or plop down on a handy built-in seating wall. 

Thinking of installing your own patio? That’s admirable. You’re awesome. Don’t do it. 

Don’t think you need a retaining wall? You might be surprised at how multi-functional they are. You might find yourself sitting out there with a plate of cheese and crackers, just for fun. They also keep your yard from flooding

aerial patio fire pit artificial turf planting

Outdoor Kitchen

Does an outdoor kitchen sound amazing, but you don’t know where to start? It’s kind of overwhelming. So many options. A good designer will help you incorporate one into your Florida tropical landscape design. 

Fire Pit

Just say yes. You’ll love it.  What’s cooler than a beach bonfire? So, if you want the ultimate backyard tropical vibe, you need flickering flames. 

Shade Structures 

It’s super hot here in Sarasota, remember? When you imagine a backyard tropical oasis, do you think about you and your friends sizzling like fajitas in pools of your own sweat?

Of course not. That’s gross. 

Be sure to plan for shade — a pergola, a tiki hut, or at the very least shade sails.

Any of these backyard tropical oasis ideas add value to your life. They also add value to your home

But who cares about that, because once you have your own backyard tropical oasis, why would you ever sell your house and leave? 


5.  Enhancing the Tropical Vibe with Lighting

Think lighting is a luxury extra for your Florida tropical landscape design? Then you’re totally in the dark. 

Lighting is absolutely crucial to maximize your enjoyment of your great outdoor space

In fact, even if you don’t ask us for a landscape lighting plan as part of your Florida tropical landscape design, we’ll get one ready for you anyway. That’s how much we know you’ll love it. 

It’s often dark by the time you get home, right? And there’s your beautiful backyard tropical oasis out there, with comfy chairs, beautiful plants, a cool inviting breeze. At least, you think it’s out there. It’s so dark, how can you tell? 

Now imagine your amazing outdoor space with tropical outdoor lighting. Festive bistro lights twinkle overhead. Tiki torches flicker for the ultimate vacation vibe. Soft pools of light show off your stunning plants. Hey, bottle palm, nice to see your evening look! Outdoor kitchen, time to rustle up a midnight snack. Nachos sound good. And don’t skimp on the cheese like last time. 

We don’t want to harsh this enchanting vibe, but take just a minute to ponder the importance of what’s behind the scenes of your magical tropical outdoor lighting: expert landscape lighting skill and installation. 

Partner with landscape lighting pros who take extra steps to make sure you have high quality landscape lighting installation designed to last. 

outdoor landscape lighting with uplighting on palm trees
Like sturdy connectors. A transformer powerful enough to keep everything glowing. Quality fixtures and components. Extra wiring to allow for your landscaping to grow. Plastic sleeves encasing your wiring so it doesn’t get sliced by landscaping tools.

You get the idea. Quality installation matters.

Now, get out there and enjoy your backyard tropical oasis. Your nachos are ready. 

6. Maintaining and Caring for Your Backyard Tropical Oasis

Once you have your tropical oasis backyard, you can live a carefree life of leisure, only leaving your hammock long enough to fetch a cherry popsicle from the freezer, woo hoo! 

Well, maybe. As long as you’ve hired a great Sarasota landscape maintenance company to mow, weed, prune, fertilize, aerate, tend to any pests or diseases, mulch, and handle your irrigation. 

If not, put that popsicle back and grab the weed wacker. That backyard tropical oasis won’t take care of itself. 

Florida landscaping has a lot of needs. Like what? 


You’d think the typical four applications of fertilizer would keep your lawn happy. Not around here. 

Sarasota soil is sandy (no extra charge for the tongue twister) so those precious nutrients flow right through it. 

Lawns here need more frequent fertilizing, but with smaller amounts, so fertilizer has a better chance of feeding the roots than draining right through into the groundwater. 

residential lawn care technician fertilization 2

Irrigation, Irrigation, Irrigation

 Yes, it’s worth saying three times. It’s that important. 

You probably have an irrigation system. So you’re all set, right? Set the controller and you’re good to go? 

Not here in Sarasota, where weather can be wacky. 

Systems need adjusting 6-8 times a year, allowing for rainy periods and finicky temperature changes. Sometimes, that means three times in one month. 

Make sure you have a Sarasota landscaping company that stays on top of irrigation maintenance, so your backyard tropical oasis stays well-watered and healthy. 

A quick word about mulch: it works wonders to hold in that important moisture. Use bark for this, not rock.  

landscape maintenance irrigation 2

Proper Pruning 

Sounds easy enough. Just cut off the extra growth and old faded stuff, right? 

Just like juggling oranges in the grocery store produce aisle, pruning is harder than it looks. 

You need detailed knowledge of exactly what to prune when, how much to trim off, and when not to prune at all. 

Details matter. The best Sarasota landscape design and installation companies have landscaping pros who know when each shrub sets its flower buds so the buds don’t get pruned off. That’s right. Prune at the wrong time and you won’t have those stunning tropical blossoms so important for your tropical paradise backyard. 

commercial landscape maintenance crew pruning 3

And There’s More 

Weed control. Zapping hungry pests. Staying on top of ugly diseases. Keeping your palm trees healthy. 

Florida landscaping maintenance is a whole thing. Your best bet is professional landscape maintenance to stay on top of your backyard tropical oasis and its many needs: A tailored lawn care program with perfectly timed fertilizer and weed control. A top-notch irrigation system that’s checked regularly. Skilled, professional pruning so everything flowers on schedule. Pro-level plant health care to keep everybody happy. 

7. How to Choose a Landscape Designer to Install Your Tropical Oasis in Sarasota, FL

So you’ve already bought patio furniture, stocked the pantry with marshmallows for the fire pit and invited the neighbors over for the first dinner party starring your outdoor kitchen.

Love that enthusiasm, but maybe you better decide on a Sarasota landscape design and installation team to make your backyard tropical oasis dreams come to life. 

How to choose? There are a bunch of no brainers that are probably already on your list: visit their website. Check their Google reviews. Ask for references and see if they have any clients whose yards are similar to yours that you can check out. 

But a couple of tips might not be on your radar: 

Make Sure They Consider Maintenance, Too 

When the last landscape truck pulls away and you’re standing out there in your new backyard tropical oasis weeping tears of joy, it might suddenly occur to you: uh, oh. Now what? How do I take care of this magical outdoor space?

Hopefully, your Sarasota landscape designer has already covered all this with you. Make sure they do. 

Most landscape architects have never worked in landscape maintenance. Sure, they’ll design a magnificent plan, but are they considering future maintenance as they fill your yard with fantastic plants? 

Are they making sure they don’t include desert plants next to plants that need a lot of water? That’s an irrigation pain. Are they adding so many high-maintenance plants to your backyard tropical oasis that a landscape maintenance crew could never tend to it all?

This stuff matters.

commercial landscape maintenance crew flower planting 10

Are They a Full-Service Landscaping Company?

When you hire one company that can handle all your landscaping needs, things go super smoothly. 

Do they also do irrigation? Not all landscape design companies in Sarasota Fl do. 

When your landscape design company can also handle your irrigation, it’s a seamless fit, from the initial planning right through to expert irrigation that keeps everything in your backyard tropical oasis healthy and thriving. 

Do they install hardscape? Landscape lighting? Can they smoothly transition from designing and installing your Florida landscaping to taking care of it with a comprehensive landscape maintenance plan? 

These are all great topics to discuss at your landscape design consultation.

​​We’ll meet you at home, on your schedule. This initial consultation lets us get to know your property, from taking measurements to checking out the lighting conditions in your yard. ​

Our landscape design team will produce high-quality drawings or 3D renderings, complete with plant lists, stone and hardscape selections, and a detailed proposal. 

You’ll be able to picture your new backyard tropical oasis before the first shovel breaks ground.

residential maintenance planting bed and turf

That consultation will tell you a lot about how the company will approach your project. 

Do they ask you a lot of questions?
Do they walk you through the steps in how to create a backyard oasis?
Do they have a ton of great ideas? 

Check, check, and check.

We can’t wait to get started. 

Give us a call or fill out our form today! Our team of Sarasota designers can’t wait to help you create a backyard tropical oasis for your home or vacation rental property.

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