Dry Garden Examples

Several dry gardens spotted in the neighborhood, all different, none without beauty. 

In this first example,  a 60's Ranch house modernized.   A walled-off front door area creates a small patio and entry area.  Outside that, a half-circle driveway with specimen succulents on low decomposed granite berms.  They spent plenty on the succulents, which were all specimen-sized when they put them in.  Zero irrigation.  It looks great!

Dry Garden

Dry Garden

Another 60's Ranch house with a half-circle driveway, but in a different style:  a limited plant palette that is very effective.   A Geijera parviflora (?) specimen tree is the focal point, with Euonymous, dwarf Phormiums in gravel, and Dymondia margaretae ground cover.  Simple and elegant, even if it does scream:  "Owner wants low maintenance!"  My one quibble is that they painted the house white, and I think the white is too reflective in afternoon sun, overpowering the simple landscape.  Maybe an ivory would have worked better, or perhaps even a pale grey. 

Dry Garden

Dry Garden

Dymondia margaretae as the hell-strip groundcover with brick sections for walking:
Dry Garden

A little water, one good irrigation every couple of weeks in summer, is enough for the Dymondia here in Sunset 23.  Zero irrigation and the dymondia dies. 

Yet another Ranch house:  this one goes California Native rather than succulent or Australian.  The same idea of the patio area right by the front door, but here higher earth berms and California natives were used as the screen rather than a stucco wall.  This house sits on a somewhat busy corner, so the berms reduce tire noise and the shrubs provide a good visual screen for the home.  Ceonothus, an Oak, a Cercis 'Forest Pansy', and Manzanitas are the main plants.

Dry Garden

On the other side of the driveway, they kept an established  Jacaranda, surrounding it with Ceonothus: 
Dry Garden

Continuing with the walled inner patio theme, another home with a simple street side planting of Agave, Yucca, and a Grevillea of some kind is my guess.  I could not ID the silver shrub.  They planted the Agaves very close to the wall, probably so they would not stick out into the street, but I think they'll be in trouble with those Agaves, which will become too big for their spots.  Those A. americana can get 10' wide around here.  Smaller Agaves would have worked better. 

Dry Garden

The previous examples are all recent designs and installations.  Here's a '70s-era dry garden with a large mature Euphorbia,  Opuntia, and Yucca screening another half-circle driveway.  A well-watered lawn is behind.  The size and age of the plants are what is impressive. 

Dry Garden

This last example went nicely Mid-Century Modern on the styling.  Pomegrantes, Palo Verde, ground cover Manzanita, Pennesetum, Nassella tenuissima aka Stipa tenuissima, and Miscanthus grasses were added. A mature Olive tree, two palms and the existing colony of Amaryllis belladonna was preserved.  A specimen Cercis 'Forest Pansy' is not visible in the picture.  Previously it was mostly dead Algerian Ivy and Amaryllis.  This property looks really good, but the Pennesetum may be the non-sterile kind and the Nassella is already reseeding itself agressively.  Not good. 

Dry Garden

Dry Garden

While I stopped to get a picture of this tree in full glory...
Dry Garden

 I noticed the hell-strip was planted in Lantana...
Dry Garden

The problem with Lantana is that your typical mow-blow guy just trims the edges and within just a few years a thick dead thatch builds up with a thin layer of living plant on top.  So you end up with what appears to be a 3' tall dead-grey cake frosted with green and purple icing.  The way to avoid this is cutting the stuff to the ground every couple of years and letting it all grow back afresh, but then you have to look at dead stubble for a couple of months.  So you end up with dead cake instead.   I'm not a Lantana enthusiast.

California Native Plants for the GardenCalifornia Home Landscaping, 3rd edition

Comments

  1. I've been struggling trying to understand what makes lantana happy. I have it in my 'dry' garden and it never looks very happy and lush as it does in the back where it gets more water. Maybe it is just the variety I chose.

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  2. Hi Sheila! Water seemed to make mine happy (too happy), but when the point is not to use so much water...well...

    My neighbor has a type that is all yellow. It only blooms in summer, but it looks good year round, with a much deeper green foliage than the purple-flowered type. I don't think she waters it much.

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