Friday, January 28, 2011

Xeriscape Idea Gathering

This year is going to be a year filled with landscaping projects. Our entire landscape needs to be started over from scratch. Pretty much everything was dead when we moved into the house and what was still living was poorly placed or too large for the space it had been planted.

When you think of San Diego, California you may think of it as a tropical place with sandy beaches and palm trees but in reality San Diego is a desert. California has been facing serious water shortages for many years now. Our water rates keep rising and there are water cutbacks in effect. Every resident of San Diego is only allowed to water their landscaping on certain days at a restricted amount of time to help conserve water. The result is often sad, brown looking lawns in the summertime. Before we even became homeowners I knew I did not want to have a front lawn. The thought of being out there every weekend mowing, edging, fighting the weeds that always overtake laws, fertilizing, etc... just doesn't appeal to me. Some people may like the look of a front lawn and that's fine, it's a personal choice. For me though a nice mixture of shrubs, trees, rocks and flowering/non-flowering plants is far more interesting than a green (or brown) lawn, and if done properly, less work! I've told several people I plan to do a xeriscape front yard and immediately they think this means I'm going to plant some cactus with some rocks sprinkled around(there's nothing wrong with this either, I love cactus) but there is such a huge variety of plants that needs very little water, you can have a really lush garden and save yourself a lot of money in water costs not to mention your helping the environment and you can spend your weekends doing far more enjoyable activities other than mowing the lawn.

A few weeks ago I walked around one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego, North Park. This area has a lot of cute historical craftsman houses. I love walking though this area and looking at all the great detail of these wonderful houses! A lot have started ripping out their front yards and replacing them with drought tolerant plants. I took a lot of photos for my idea book and I thought I would share some of my favorites!

 This is one of the few modern houses in this area. I love how they designed the concrete walkway and all the plants are drought tolerant plants. I think the soft plants are a nice contrast to the hard edges of the modern house and pathway. It makes this house not stick out so much next to all the old Craftsman houses and adds a lot of interest to the yard.

I just love this cute little bungalow! I want their screen door for our house! So many interesting things going on in this yard! I like that none of the plants are so overgrown or tall that it covers up the house or windows. Houses from the 1920's have such cute windows I never understand why people want to cover them up with huge plants. There is a lot of rosemary used, succulents, trees, grasses, rocks, it all gives the yard a lot of color and texture.

I find this mixture of succulents, rosemary and rocks to be so much more interesting than most of the dead grass curbsides normally seen in front of houses. And as an added bonus I'm sure these people don't have all the neighborhood dogs doing their business in their yard.

We plan on doing something similar to this in our front yard so when I saw this I had to shoot a photo for my idea book! I love the dry stacked stone wall with a assortment of low lying agave and other plantings in front. I do wonder though if those agave are going to get a lot bigger, I certainly hope not because it looks good the way it is now.

Not only does rosemary smell and taste good it has this beautiful purple flower! Flowers in January, what's not to love about that? Also, it's extremely drought tolerant! Just please don't cut into a square hedge, it looks so much better when you just let it be!

Look at this beautiful red and green sticks of fire! There is so much color in this landscape although I do wish it were a little fuller. If planting sticks of fire be careful because handling this plant can cause skin irritation.

I really like this soft, almost feathery looking tree, anyone know the name of it? Two different varieties of agave flank the sidewalk and more sticks of fire in the background.

The walkway to this house is similar to the modern house above. I think off setting the stones from each other adds a little more interest than a straight walkway. The low lying plants next to the sidewalk soften the edges and in my opinion look great! This along with the cute patio and door make this house so inviting!

Another really nicely done xeriscape! More flowers in January! 

Stone is a really great mulch! Although it doesn't add organic matter to your soil like wood mulch does it doesn't need to be replaced like wood mulch and it helps retain moisture in soil and helps block out weeds. It also comes in a variety of colors and sizes!

This looks so natural, like something you would come across while hiking. It reminds me of Japanese gardens but with drought tolerant plants.

 I need to find out the name of this plant! The little white flowers are so pretty, I bet this plant flowers all the rest of the winter and into spring.

I use to live right up the street from this house when I was still living in a apartment. I use to walk by all the time and admire the landscaping. This is a perfect example of how you can still have grass in your front yard but minimize it and offset water usage by mixing in drought tolerant plants. There are tropical plants mixed in as well so this landscape most likely uses more water than the previous houses but I'm sure it's a lot less than having it all be lawn. Look at the curbside landscaping, wonderful!

This mixture of succulents in front of that bright adobe color is just wonderful! And more flowers!

I've always thought that large agave plant in the front corner was so perfectly placed!

I can't wait to get started on our landscaping but first I have to dig out our yard full of bermuda grass ugh.

For those living in San Diego, the city is currently offering rebates to those that replace their living lawns with drought tolerant plants. There are also other landscape related rebates. Go here for more information

1 comment:

  1. Love the landscaping ideas! Agave, succulents, and rocks are my favorite in landscaping....and I dont even live in the desert! Cant wait to see what you come up with!