Saturday, May 30, 2020

Local Dentist Transforms His Vacant Lot into a Private Native Plant Sanctuary

Dr. Richard Siegel, of Siegel Dental and also President of the Chamber of Commerce, bought the vacant lot adjacent to his residence on Edgewater Court and wanted the vacant lot to have a park-like appeal. One of his first jobs was in landscaping so he had it in his blood and did not want a manicured look which would require a lot of watering and maintenance. 

Dr. Siegel met Eric S. Jadaszewski—Horticulturalist, Designer, Owner of Everglades Native Designs LLC and has a philosophy of using native plants. A year from now, the plants are going to be established and will be maintenance-free—no edging or hedge clipping. A row of Ficus Benjamina close to the house was removed. His only input was the royal palms planted and Eric planted a diversity of 20 different native plants.

After evaluating the vacant lot, Eric determined that trees, shrubs and groundcover native to Marco would thrive best with minimal irrigation and little to no fertilizer or pruning, once established.

The plant species selected also would be good hosts for butterflies, pollinators as well as birds and wildlife. Slowly the vacant lot was transformed into a wildlife sanctuary.

The design is informal, low maintenance, wildlife-friendly in line with the State’s “Florida Friendly Landscape” guidelines for a sustainable landscape. By putting the right native plants in the right places, Eric stated that almost anyone can transform their lot into a natural habitat. 

Eric’s plan called for an informal mix screen of a variety of native shrubs and trees for privacy. It was 98% native plants plus 3 coconut palms which are well-behaved nonnatives. 

The shrubs are planted more in a natural meandering line and are not jammed 2 to 3 feet apart. Once established, it will be a natural effective screen and should require little to no pruning at all. Or you can just let it grow naturally to their own size and shape so they will flower and fruit so wildlife can also utilize the plants. 

Photos by Eric Jadaszewski | Vacant lot before the transformation.

Native plants typically grow in sandy soil, so site preparation was also minimal. Eric and his crew did amend the planting holes with some organic topsoil to get them started and mulched using pine straw mulch. The plants and shrubs were purchased from local native nurseries such as Subtropical Native Trees in Naples and Good Roots Nursery in Estero.

Immediately after planting, the shrubs and trees were thoroughly watered with low pressure, low volume drip irrigation system. The drip system uses far less water and water is pinpointed just at the trees and shrubs.

As a bonus to the landscape, an authentic Seminole Palm Chickee Hut or Tiki Hut (12’ x 16’) constructed of cypress poles and cabbage palm fronds was added for a shady spot to watch the sunset. George of Native American Palm Huts in Big Cypress only took two days to install.

This summer when the rains start, Eric will plant plugs of native groundcovers and wildflowers such as sunshine mimosa—which grows well with Marco’s sandy soil.

For more information on Native Plants and Design, visit or call Eric Jadaszewski at 239-330-8115. For information on Native American Tiki Palm Huts, visit or call 844-725-6488.

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