Sunny Georgia Strip: Design Challenge

Photo © Xiao Hu and Carol Herley

Design challenges take photos of tricky spots in people’s yards and put them out there for advice from the professionals at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and from our broad audience of participants, some of whom have some serious wildlife gardening credentials (just check out our Featured Sites for proof).

The Details

Location: St Simons Island, Georgia
Eco-Region: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Planting Zone: 9a
Learn more about this place by reading it’s Local Resources Page.

georgia sun 1

Photo ©

This is a smallish, 25’x70’ yard that borders a golf course fairway and a marsh. The west side of the house gets sun starting at noon. There is an existing Oak tree at each corner and a large pine on the edge in the middle. There are deer, raccoon, and snakes. The owners have been at the location for five years and don’t want a manicured look but want to fix it up.

georgia sun 2

Photo ©

Cornell Says:
With the large native trees and existing tall grasses, this yard starts with excellent structure and good potential for habitat. There is no lawn to convert or invasive species to control which puts most of the effort into adding plants that will brighten up the shade, add color, and give it more of a lush-garden look. What seems to be missing most are flowering plants that attract pollinators. Consider alternating the existing shrubs and grasses with berry producing shrubs like American beautyberry and tall wildflowers like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, and Gaillardia in the sunniest places. In the shady spots around the trees, some low, shade loving Phlox divaricata or Cardinal flower would brighten it up and attract hummingbirds to the area.

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