Historic Preservation

A vintage bungalow in Longwood gets an eco-friendly landscaping makeover.

Native and drought-tolerant plants helped to reduce water consumption of this 1920s-era home.

Courtesy Dix.Hite+Partners

Central Florida’s landscaping pros are taking local resources into account with their designs, which has the added benefit of lowering environmental impact, improving sustainability and reducing water consumption. Dix.Hite + Partners, a landscape architecture firm in Longwood, used these best practices to restore a circa 1925 Craftsman bungalow adjacent to their offices. The site is in the Longwood Historic District, and the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 


 “There are several distinct garden spaces on the site,” says Jeff Dix, vice president of Dix.Hite. “The frontage and parking area use natives in a structured, sculpted fashion.” Among the native plants are Walter’s viburnum, gulf muhly, Sabal palmetto and Sabal minor, Agave americana, beautyberry, longleaf pine, Zamia floridana, wiregrass, blazing star, goldenrod, golden aster, spiderwort, beargrass, purple lovegrass and silver lovegrass.  

 The use of Florida-Friendly Landscaping “was an overall design strategy,” says Christina Hite, company president. “The plant material used was 90 percent native and drought tolerant.” This strategy helped the project earn a Florida Water Star certification, and interior and exterior water-saving techniques were incorporated. Plants were strategically located to take advantage of natural rainfall from the roof, and a rain barrel was constructed to capture water for additional irrigation.  

 “The rain barrel also solved a functional design problem, as it captures roof water that previously flowed from the roof and splashed onto an exposed doorway,” adds Hite. The rain barrel was incorporated as a design element on the front porch, with an accompanying rain chain and planted pots. For times when supplemental irrigation is needed, a low-volume micro-jet irrigation system was incorporated into the plan. 

  “The overall design achieves the original design goals with the incorporation of sustainable elements and its casual, comfortable, native feel,” notes Dix. “The landscape blends well and enhances the character of the surrounding historic district, and captures the relaxed, enclave feeling that the Longwood Historic District is known for.” 

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