How to Create a Tropical Paradise in Your Own Backyard

The goal for your own little paradise is to create a lush landscape with a full, tropical look. Here’s how:

  • ⬥ Put plants close together – just like they’d grow in the wild
  • ⬥ Layer your plants from small to large
  • ⬥ Choose plants with different sizes, shapes, textures and colors of leaves and blooms


Start with a brilliant colored ground cover that will stop growing at about 12 inches.

Next, add a layer of feathery ferns (e.g. cycads) combined with bright plants for the middle (e.g. orange bromeliads), followed by large palms that tower over the other plants.

Add some type of water feature

Drown out your noisy surroundings and enjoy the relaxing sounds of water bubbling.

Depending on the space you have in your backyard, you can add a waterfall or simply turn a pot into a fountain. There are a lot of different plans out there – check out this fun and easy looking DIY water fountain.

Add natural stone accents

Consider the stone that’s native to the area you live in. For example if you live in Florida, keystone or limestone is a good option. Alternatively, black river rock is easier to find and is commonly found in tropical garden landscapes.

Use cheerful colors

A tropical paradise should at the bare minimum be colorful. Bright pinks, oranges, purples and reds are commonly seen in nature, so mimic these colors in your other decor.

Use lots…and lots…of green

And of course, what tropical paradise would be complete without lots of bright, vivid greens in a huge variety of shades?

Not only does the color provide a cooling and calming effect it adds a lovely contrast to the bright colors of the other plant life.

Accent your space with orchids

No, not the kind you buy for a corsage. Grow your own and hang in baskets from the branches of trees and/or tuck them in pots among the green foliage.

Bring in nature’s pollinators

Call to the butterflies (and hummingbirds) by planting varieties that they love such as yellow bulbine, purple Mexican salvia and even bee balm.

Go with big leaves

Think lush tropical jungles and rain forests. Large leaf plants will give your landscape a distinctly tropical feel.

If you live in a temperate zone you could choose philodendrons or elephant ears. Hostas and ligularia work well in small spaces as they won’t take over nearby plants. 

Choose colored foliage

There are many plants besides flowers that can offer color. Foliage can be found in many different shapes, colors and shades and since it doesn’t depend on bloom cycles your landscape will retain more color year-round.

Furniture and accessories

Make sure that all furniture and accessories you use for the space fit the tropical paradise theme you’re going for.

Use tropical colors for furniture, any outbuildings, walls or other features your backyard has. Think thatched gazebos, colorful table umbrellas, and lots of tiki torches that will instantly create an island theme.

Finally, remember that it’s difficult to overdo a tropical theme. Slowly add more and more elements over time that you enjoy and soon, you and your family will have a tropical paradise that’s the envy of the neighborhood…as well as the perfect place to hide from the cares of the day.