Another Example Of A Lawnless, Drough-Tolerant Front Yard

Piece of Eden

This property was completely remodeled along about '07-'08. The 60's era ranch house was nicely redone as a contemporary. The front yard was split in two, with the area nearer the house enclosed by a low vine-covered wire fence. The area nearer the street was planted with drought-tolerant perennial Osteospermum. A grouping of succulents was placed on either side of the walkway to the front gate.

Piece of Eden

Time to remove those tree stakes; the trees are now holding up the stakes:
Piece of Eden

On the other side of the driveway is another area of Osteospermum ground cover, with some Hemerocallis clumps along the property line:
Piece of Eden

The driveway is a series of concrete squares with a puzzling mix of both Dymondia and Lysimachia between the squares.  What's the story on that?  They wanted both, or did one not take off fast enough, so they tried another?  It looks messy.  One or the other, please.
Piece of Eden

The whited areas on the tree stakes make me think there is regular irrigation, but the plants look tired:
Piece of Eden

The photographer can be seen reflected in what appears to be a garage door--what should be a garage door by building code.
Piece of Eden

The two groups of succulents make a wonderful impression at first.  Further contemplation gave an impression they were something of a random collection.  With the disciplined contemporary geometry of the house, a limited palette would have been more satisfying. 
Piece of Eden

Piece of Eden

Osteospermum, or Freeway daisies (as we call them here in Southern California) are a nice idea, but they don't look good for long without some attention.  These are starting their road to rattiness.
Piece of Eden

The fence is nice, but there's nothing behind the fence except a couple of Phormiums, mulch, and some uneven big-box stepping stones that appear to be a post-installation addition at odds with the stylish remodeling of the house.  So: why the fence? Perhaps a sitting area or kitchen garden was originally planned, but never completed:
Piece of Eden

The somewhat jumbled succulents.  Trees along the other property line also look stressed.  Irrigation may have stopped or cut back before they were efficiently established. They appear weary and are sparse of foliage.

Piece of Eden

I was really taken with this yard when I first saw it, but now three or four years on, it needs some skilled attention--the freeway daisies are starting to die in areas, the mulch is patchy and could use a refresh, and the muddled succulent groups could be much improved by some editing. The trees are appropriate to a drought-tolerant design, but trees need to be watered until they are thoroughly established, and these trees (even after our recent generous rainfall) look thirsty. The Pittosporum tenuifoliums are planted too close to the house. These are sizeable trees (beautiful sizeable trees, actually), not medium shrubs, and they are showing some stress placed within a couple of feet of the building. Too close.

Again again again low maintenance does not mean no maintenance, and don't plant trees 18" from the house. A nifty design (except the random succulent groups) can't disguise a need for care (to us gardeners, anyway), and young P. tenuifoliums right next to the house looked great at installation, but they are already looking not so great (squished).

I like a lot about this yard--no, I LOVE a lot about this yard, but I wish someone could get out there and tweak a few things. Clean up the column planter on the driveway. Freeway daisies look good at first but gradually decline--refresh or replace. Pull the Pitts (sigh) and plant smaller ones (that will still be plenty big). Pull the tree stakes: they are not intended to be permanent. This is a cool yard, already showing some age. Time for a little care, a little thought, a little love.

Comments

  1. Interesting post and observations. I thought about going all succulents in our front yard but we get lots of summer rain so I went with lawn and only water it in April and may. I would be interested in a post on your experience with the different options to plant between bricks or stones.

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  2. Hi Kelsey, I've found plants for flagstone filler is very climate-dependent. Here Dymondia and Thyme. Dymondia is not cold hardy. Moneywort works but needs a lot of water.

    If we had summer rain here I would not hesitate to plant a lawn. I love lawn! But it's inappropriate for my climate. May I suggest looking into rain barrels if you have not already done so, since your area has the luxury of summer rain? Rain is too precious to waste!

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