Tips for Hawaiian Landscape Design!

Hawaii’s breathtaking landscape is often hailed as a paradise and with just a glance out the window, it’s easy to see why. If you are a homeowner or renter we have an opportunity to help preserve its natural beauty. We want to help you turn your landscape into paradise, so read on for some tips for Hawaiian landscape design!

One way to do this is by creating a biodiverse landscape surrounding our homes that integrates native plants and implements an efficient design to optimize existing resources. By incorporating native plants into our landscape, we not only elevate the beauty and allure of our property but also foster the local ecosystem, conserve water, promote a stable and beneficial habitat for native species, and enrich the soil. Native plants are deeply intertwined with Hawaiian culture and traditions. Many species hold cultural and spiritual importance to the indigenous people of Hawaii. So, when designing your landscape, keep this phrase on the top of your mind – Plant More Native Plants!

Design a Garden Exclusively Using Native Hawaiian Plants

Hawaii is a unique biodiversity hotspot, home to numerous plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. Grow native plants to help preserve and protect this rich biodiversity, prevent the loss of endemic species, and maintain ecosystem balance. Native plants have co-evolved with the local environment over thousands of years, making them well-adapted to the climate, soil conditions, and native wildlife. By planting native species, we support the stability of local ecosystems and contribute to their resilience against invasive species and environmental changes.  Choose from species like Pritchardia palms, Hawaiian hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei), Ilima (Sida fallax), and Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo (Hibiscus arnottianus). Growing native plants also leaves less space in your yard for invasive species. This makes it a great way to mitigate and manage the invasive species on your property.


This concept focuses on creating a visually appealing and sustainable garden or outdoor space while minimizing water usage. Given Hawaii’s limited water resources, this cost-friendly approach can be combined with native plant usage to create an aesthetically pleasing yard with low maintenance! Plants like ʻĀkulikuli (Sesuvium portulacastrum), ʻĀheahea (Chenopodium oahuense), and ʻIlima papa (Sida fallax) are excellent choices for xeriscaping.

Rain Garden

Rain gardens capture and retain rainwater runoff. Use native plants with deep root systems, such as Kukui (Aleurites moluccana), Nāupaka (Scaevola spp.), and Pōhuehue (Ipomoea pes-caprae), which help filter and cleanse the water. Don’t forget about your gutters! Analyze the path of the rainwater coming out of your gutters during the next rain storm and see if there is a way that this water can be captured and used in your garden. Be sure your gutters are routinely cleaned out!

Coastal Landscape

If your property is near the coast, incorporate coastal plants like Pohinahina (Vitex rotundifolia), Pōhuehue (Ipomoea pes-caprae), and ʻĀweoweo (Scaevola sericea) in your Hawaiian landscape design. These plants withstand salt spray and sandy soil conditions.

Slope Stabilization

For sloped areas, use native plants with extensive root systems to prevent erosion and stabilize the soil. Species like ʻĀkia (Wikstroemia spp.), Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla), and ʻŌhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) are effective choices.

Butterfly and Bird Attractors

Incorporate native plants that attract butterflies and birds, enhancing the biodiversity of your garden. ʻIlima (Sida fallax), Pua kala (Argemone glauca), and Lāʻī (Pritchardia spp.) are among the many plants that can attract these beneficial creatures.

Native Tree Canopy

Plant native trees to create a lush, shaded canopy. ʻŌhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), Koa (Acacia koa), and ʻŌlapa (Cheirodendron trigynum) are iconic Hawaiian trees that can thrive in landscaping.

Cultivate Polynesian Introductions

Alongside native Hawaiian plants, consider adding species that were introduced by Polynesian voyagers centuries ago. These plants include Kalo (Colocasia esculenta), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), and breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis). These plants do great in Hawaiian soil and if properly attended to can provide you and your family and friends with an abundance of delicious local food!

Rock Gardens

Design rock gardens with native plants that grow naturally in rocky environments. ʻĀhinahina (Artemisia spp.), ʻĀheahea (Chenopodium oahuense), and Maʻo hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei) are ideal for such areas.

Traditional Medicinal Garden

Create a garden with native Hawaiian plants known for their medicinal properties, like Kukui (Aleurites moluccana), Niu (Cocos nucifera), and Noni (Morinda citrifolia).

Before starting your landscaping project, it’s essential to research the specific needs and growing requirements of each plant species. Seek guidance from local experts or nurseries specializing in Hawaiian plants. Native plant landscaping not only benefits the environment but also preserves Hawaii’s cultural heritage and biodiversity. We hope this list motivates you to get started on your Hawaiian landscape design. Happy planting!