BY CHARLYNE VARKONYI SCHAUB
Once you have the pool, the stylish outdoor furniture and the outdoor kitchen, the landscaping may cry out for a makeover.
We sought advice from Fernando Wong, one of the rising stars in South Florida landscape design. Wong works in any style – from classic French and Italian to tropical design. But he says decorating poolside requires some special considerations.
“I like to sit down with clients if possible and go over the plan before the pool is finished,” Wong says. “You should have enough room for outdoor furniture if you can keep a good 10-by-10-square separated by plant material – palms or flower beds. You really need to break up the deck in a pattern. Otherwise, it will look like a parking lot.”
Here are some of his suggestions:
Plants have to fit the space. He pointed to a poolside garden he designed in Coconut Grove, which features a thin Italian cypress in a small space next to French doors, potted plants for color that can change with the season, weeping podocarpus as a hedge and flowering trees such as bougainvillea.
Plantings should be placed at least 5 to 10 feet away from the pool.
Palms can add a pleasant atmosphere and shade. Avoid royal palms too close to the pool because they have aggressive roots that can break pipes and paving. A better choice is foxtail palms and Alexandra palms. Robellini will also work, but they should be at least 8 feet of clear trunk for proper design.
Avoid ficus trees because of their invasive roots, but they can be used as a hedge for screening. They require a lot of maintenance because of the white fly problem. A better option is a podocarpus.
You have to spend money to maintain your garden – and make sure you hire someone who is skilled in pruning.
“At the end of the day, whatever you end up loving and want to use as ambience or shelter from the sun can work,” Wong says. “It is very important to embrace the idea that with proper maintenance you can have those things.”
Fernando Wong Outdoor Living 1504 Bay Road, No. 2705, Miami Beach, 33139; and 64 Via Mizner, Suite 2, Palm Beach, 33480, 305-321-0546, www.fernandowongold.com