There's a lot you can do. You are in climactic zone 9a,
Forget about stripping your topsoil off, the top 5-6 inch's is where all the good, organic stuff is. If you stick with plant's (and there is a lot of them) that can handle those condition's you can have something nice to look at. Nice landscaping is a long term thing, you need to get that attitude, it will make thing's a lot easier. Can you describe the property in more detail ? Can you post picture's ? I lived in Savannah for 8 year's, i can help you out if you want to do it right.