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10 Low Cost Ideas to Spruce up the Tropical Garden

I am a marketing professional holding a postgraduate degree in Management. I am passionate about my little garden.

A tropical garden should have a dense tree cover

A tropical garden should have a dense tree cover

This article covers garden ideas specific to tropical regions. The region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn is known as the tropical region. A tropical garden should shield the home from excess sunlight besides its aesthetic value.

Chennai is a latitude of 13 degree north and stays warm throughout the year. We are looking at ideas that will work in a city like Chennai. These should work for any other tropical region as well. The monsoon rains bring cheers to the city from June to December. We need large trees to provide shade from the sun for the summer months.

Low Cost Decor Ideas for Tropical Garden

  1. Flowering trees
  2. Garden Path
  3. Garden Steps
  4. Outdoor Fish Tank
  5. A stone bench
  6. Brick lined plants
  7. Pebbles
  8. Use compound walls
  9. Natural mulch
  10. Create a ground cover using Silver Squill

1. Flowering Trees

We can have several flowering trees in the front yard for ornamental value and shade. We can have Frangipani, Hongkong Orchid, Bougainvillea and Indian Cork tree to provide the green cover with ornamental value. We can also have fruit-bearing trees such as Mango, Guava, coconut and Blackberry.

One should plant the trees on the western and eastern side of the house. This helps in minimizing the heat absorption from the sun's radiation. Because of this reason, a tropical home feels noticeably cooler than the surroundings. Trees need less watering and maintenance compared to small plants.

2. A Stone Path

A path made of square stone blocks looks attractive and gels with the natural look of the garden. The stones can be placed in the spaces carved out by digging. The cost of stone blocks is usually low. The pathways make the garden look more spacious.

3. Garden Steps

A garden gets transformed when we create a landscape. Small gardens may not have the space to create a large landscape. Elements like stone steps could come handy to create an illusion of a landscape.

One needs to make a small slope using sand and stones. The garden path passing through this can have the stone steps to complete the look.

4. Outdoor Fish Tank

A water body looks attractive in a tropical garden. One can use a cement tray or a stone bowl placed on a pedestal. In tropical regions, mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters and pose a serious health threat. So, we can grow fish inside the water body to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Guppies does the job and they find their food in this self-sustaining ecosystem. The only maintenance needed is refilling water to account for evaporation loss and birds quenching their thirst. Water lettuce and other aquatic plants can be thrown in for better appeal.

Garden bench made of unfinished granite

Garden bench made of unfinished granite

5. A Stone Bench

It is not enough if we have a beautiful garden with large trees sheltering us from the blistering sun. Don't we need a place to sit and enjoy the surroundings? A stone bench is preferred over a metal or a wooden bench because of its durability. It is more cost effective compared to a metal bench, though the relative prices may vary across regions.

6. Brick Lined Plants

One can use narrow pathways using brick lined plants. Dwarf Copperleaf (Ponnanganni Keerai in Tamil) can grow in such narrow pathways. The plants can be trimmed to keep them in shape. The leaves of this plant are nutritious and used in cooking.

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7. Pebbles

Pebbles add a lot of character, especially when used near the entrance. The pathway near the entrance can be dotted with pebbles to add that extra charm. One can keep the pebbles in areas that do not have scope to grow plants.

8. Use Compound Walls

Small plants can be kept on the compound walls, as if there is no space elsewhere. A keenness to use every inch of space gives the garden a busy look. The pots on the compound wall can receive better sunlight, and the flowering plants blossom in full glory. In short, do not leave any corner unutilized.

Garden floor with a thick layer of natural mulch

Garden floor with a thick layer of natural mulch

9. Natural Mulch

One can let the fallen leaves stay on the garden floor in the front yard. Natural mulch gives a jungle-like look. Some may not like because it may appear untidy to them. The yield from the trees would improve with natural mulch and the pest menace also comes down.

The dry leaves become home to many insects and ants, adding valuable nutrition to soil through a complex ecosystem. The presence of insects attracts garden lizards, squirrels, chameleons, skinks, cats and many species of birds. It feels nice we can support so many life forms other than cockroaches, mosquitoes, rats and human beings.

10. Ground Cover Using Silver Squill

Lawn is the most popular ground cover in tropical regions. The trees in the gardens may prevent sunshine from reaching the ground without which a lawn won't survive. Lawns consume a heavy amount of water and so can be avoided.

So we can look at other options for creating a ground cover. Silver Squill or Water Hyacinth is a shade and drought resistant bulbous plant. It provides a thick and dark green ground cover. It is a great cost-effective substitute for a lawn.

Please leave your valuable comments.

Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on July 09, 2020:

I am glad you liked the article. Thank you, Chitrangada.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 07, 2020:

Excellent article with a lot to learn for the gardening enthusiasts. I liked your garden very much, and would follow some of your suggestions, for sure. The stone and pebbles pathway, and the small water body is a great idea, and worth appreciation.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on June 28, 2020:

My garden has many trees and they can sustain without watering for weeks. The smaller plants need a little extra care.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on June 28, 2020:

Creating a green space in Chennai climate is not so easy but you have depicted it so nicely. Good article.

Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on June 05, 2020:

Very true, Liz. The stone bench is as solid as a rock.

Liz Westwood from UK on June 05, 2020:

Thanks for sharing these useful tips. You have written for a tropical garden, but I can see that many ideas can be adapted for use in colder climates. I had not thought of a stone bench before. It's durability makes a lot of sense over other materials.

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