Landscaping with Palm Trees Ideas
Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Landscaping with Palm Trees Ideas

Tropical Landscape
by Phil Bergman

Tropical Landscaping with Emphasis on Palm Trees, Cycads and Companion Plants

With New Information on Water Conservation

Creating a beautiful garden is the goal of many, and there are multiple garden themes one may follow to landscape the garden. Which landscape design or theme you select depends on your tastes. Some people prefer a formal, symmetrical garden with emphasis on flowering plants like roses and annuals. Some like the alpine look of Pines, Fir and Rhododendrons. Others prefer an arid desert type of landscape. Many (if they could), would choose a lush tropical landscape garden. All garden-themes have their own appeal. Below is a discourse on the creation and design of a tropical to semi-tropical landscape with an emphasis on palm trees, cycads and tropical companion plants. And, with recent water restrictions in California, I’ve added comments on how to have a tropical garden and still conserve water.


We are not going to discuss structure or hardscape, but rather the plants, with some emphasis on the species one might choose for a great tropical landscape. But, first one must come up with a concept of what they are trying to create. And, in doing this, there are many things to consider. The plants you select and how you place them is very important. We will be showing you photographs of gardens to give you ideas about what you could do in your garden.

A driveway leading into a lush tropical garden (Photo BGL).

Usage of palms and cycads in the design.

There are a few guiding principals which I would like the readers to consider as they review this article and pursue their landscape design:


Decide what type of landscape design you want to create (If you like tropical landscaping, this article very much applies to you).

Plan ahead and select your plants wisely; decide which species will give you the desired landscape design you seek.

Don’t fall into the trap of planting “available species” and not picking the species you really want. Utilize different species that add character to the garden. Don’t let your gardener steer you to common plants.

Decide on the general design and density of planting that you’d prefer for your garden.

Given reasonable growing conditions, realize that anyone can create a beautiful tropical garden, but species chosen must be able to survive in your area.

Remember to plan for different layers of plants in your garden and consider canopy-forming species for your tropical landscape.

Use companion plants to add beauty to your garden and give color

Use plantings to accentuate and beautify the hardscape when you landscape the garden.

Find solutions for those “difficult areas” to landscape as part of your garden design. You can turn such areas into charming additions to the garden.

Place individual plants correctly.

Apply good culture to your tropical landscape plantings.

Be patient, have a good plant, select the right plants and time will reward your efforts.

Tropical landscape complimented by a stone pathway.


Taller species of palms in the rear with shorter species in the foreground (photo BGL).

Lush tropical plantings

An assortment of palms around a lawn area.

Water feature accent in a tropical landscape

Beach deck and palapa by G.B.
Entrance into a garden
Usage of lush companion plants

Your Locality & Growing Conditions

If you like the looks of a tropical garden, you must take a realistic look at is your local growing conditions. How cold do you get? Is it extremely dry? It’s very difficult to create an outdoor tropical garden if you live in the cold central areas of the United States or in a mountainous area that sees long cold winters. Likewise, hot and dry areas present their own problems with your garden landscape design. There are articles elsewhere at this Site that deal with such issues.

Regarding cold tolerance, always consider how cold any given species can tolerate. This article is aimed at conditions one might see in Southern California with it’s mild climate. But, concepts below are applicable to other areas whether you live in South Texas, Florida, Hawaii or far into the Tropics. We will show a few pictures from areas outside Southern California. The only difference in design is which species you select for growing in your garden. One way or another, there is a way you can do tropical landscaping in your area.

Palms trunks along a garden’s edge (photo BGL).

Cocos nucifera, the Coconut Palm, a near impossible palm for our area

An example of different layers of height in the garden.

Licuala grandis, a desirable but impossible to grow palm for Southern CA

Planning Ahead

Most people start with their hardscape design and installation. This means you put in the pool and decks before you plant.