DESERT OASIS DESIRED - Backyard Landscape

by ELIZABETH
(SO. CAIFORNIA)

JUST A BUNCH OF GRASS

JUST A BUNCH OF GRASS

WE WOULD LIKE TO MAKE OUR BACKYARD LOW MAINTENANCE AND WE WERE PLANNING ON USING CACTUS AND DROUGHT TOLERANT PLANTS.ANY IDEAS FOR THIS HUGE L-SHAPED BACK YARD ABOUT 60X60 FEET?


ANSWER
Without getting into the details of specific plants, I would consider doing the following for your backyard landscape.

1. Use tall plants against the wall to hide it and make it more of a green space. There are vertical gardens you can create....similar to green roofs, but vertical.

2. When adding plants against the rear of the house, I would use trees in the corners to frame it and add some height.

3. How about one or more shade trees in the lawn?

4. In an area that is a visual focal point from either where you sit outside or a view from a window, add a water feature. It can be as simple as a bird bath with running water.

I hope this has given you some useful ideas.

Susan

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THANKS BILL
by: Anonymous

THANKS BILL FOR THE GREAT IDEAS!! AS FOR YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HOW ARIZONA ARE WE WANTING TO GO. WE ARE THINKING ABOUT TAKING OUT ALL THE GRASS EXCEPT A SMALL AREA BEHIND THE GARAGE FOR THE DOGS. PUT IN A SWIMMING POOL, A FIRE PIT WITH SEATING AND ALL THE REST OF THE YARD SHOULD BE MAINTENANCE FREE. THE BACK GRAY WALL WE ARE NOW INSTALLING FOUR RETAINING HALF MOON SHAPED PLANTING AREAS WHICH I CAN FILL WITH SOME OF THE PLANTINGS YOU SUGGESTED. AS FOR HOW THE REST OF IT WILL PLAY OUT I AM NOT SURE. GRAVEL? FLAGSTONE? POTTED PLANTS? TREES?

How much Arizona?
by: Bill Kisich

I'm a Landscape Designer in Phoenix. One question I have to ask many time of clients that have recently moved to the desert is, how much Arizona do you really want? Most people want something a bit more lush then the true desert look, but not always. Can you describe your vision a little more?

One thing to think about, desert landscaping is about geology almost as much as horticulture. Are you thinking boulders and elevation changes? You can use boulders in groups to shore up mounds and plant ground covers to spill over. Back this up with some accent agaves like Desmettiana, Gemniflora, Murphyii, or Vilmoriniana.

Or other spiky plants like Desert Spoon - (Dasylirion wheeleri), Yucca Pendula (recurvifolia), Blue Yucca (rigida), or Hesperaloe parviflora make great accents.

Probabaly the most popular ground cover here is Lantana camara and montevidensis. Number two would probably be Myoporum parvifolium or Wedelia trilobata, then maybe Creeping Germander (teucrium chamedrys prostratum.

Grasses are a great choice for an oasis look. Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia Capillaris), and the larger Side Oats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) are very graceful and can be mesmerizing.

I don't live in the LA area, so I'm not sure if any of these plants will really thrive there, but it might be a place to start.

Good luck,
Bill

ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS?
by: Anonymous

thank you but i feel i am wanting more of an "Arizona style" back yard

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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