More Lawnless Front Yards

A short drive in the neighborhood.  This is pretty well done;  I like the relative simplicity of it.  Blue fescue as the main groundcover...
 It's a beautiful color and texture, but needs regular replacement--the tufts start to go brown after 18 months or so.  Blue Agaves agree with the Fescue, bronze Phormiums to contrast,
Orange-flowered Anigozanthos along the front path complement the purple-blues of Limonium perezii, prostrate Rosemary, and Lavenders.
Such a simple and disciplined palette would be helped by meticulous maintenance, which isn't happening--dead spots in the fescue field.  
 The Pittosporums along the front wall don't work for me, though a vertical element see right there--what about blue columnar junipers sheared narrow?  Or blue vertical columnar, thornless cactus?  The stairs are a little awkward, too:
All in all, pleasing.  It is a small enough area that meticulous maintenance and a bit of rethinking would make it a real gem.  "Low maintenance" is not "no maintenance".   

Next door, the original 1970's landscaping provides an idea of what was here before:  juniper, lawn, loquat, and big pine trees.  The properties have shallow front yards, and they are sloped as well.  
 The lawn allows visitors to open their passenger-side doors and acts as a sidewalk of sorts in a neighborhood without them.  
Functional, but thirsty:

A few doors down, another, less successful xeric yard:
 It would be more effective, maybe, with just Agave attenuatas and the blue Senecio, arranged more naturally.  The fescue and orange crassulas are struggling and the Anigozanthos to the right of the Agaves seems like an afterthought added on.  And on the extreme left, a lonely red Phormium, all by itself...?

Further inspection...
The home had a fire at some point.  Above the stone panel are burned beams and joists; there's damage to the roof--some difficulties here.  And what is with that stairway?  I didn't try walking up the stairs, but I wouldn't want to.  Could two visitors, side by side, negotiate that safely?
Peeking over the construction fencing, they had the right idea on the steeply sloped back yard, but mulch would help, and Pennesetum setaceum is invading.  By the state of the burnt beams, more important issues right now than the landscape.
We move on.  A pause to admire the local hills and their Coastal Sage Scrub, green for the first time in years.  Hopefully some day there will be public budget to remove the invader Eucs:
We move on.  Oh, that's a nice drape on a fence.  Must be quite striking in bloom:
On we drive.  This property has the difficulty of a front that slopes towards the home.  And a reminder to me:  one-of-everything looks--like one-of-everything.  
 Ah, one last recent remodel.  Good foliage-based color...
A straight, wide path to the front door, without a stairway designed for style rather than safety.  Good.  It appears to be a 60's Ranch remodeled with the covered patios(?) out front enclosed by those walls, and a not wholly compelling pergola there at the entrance.  Looks fairly cool, though.  I can imagine that the front windows were pounded by the western sun at one time.  I like that house. 
 But a lot of lawn.

 Considering the plants here: that a Dasylirion in the middle of that group there?  Do they know that's going to get six feet (at least) in diameter ?  The Phormiums can get that wide, too.  Know your plants, what they will do.  Because they do do stuff such as growing; they ain't furniture.  

Well, that neighborhood tour was fun.  Food for thought, again and again, reminders that one-of-every-plant-I-like isn't as effective as multiples from a more limited palette.  I will learn this eventually.  No, really.  I will!


  1. That was a nice look around in your surroundings. The two first front yards are very pretty, but when I see those slopes......maintenance must be hard. The cactus draped on the fence is wonderful, imagine when it´s blooming.

    1. The slopes are small enough, especially the first one, such that one can lean or stretch and get to most everything. However the slope in the back on the burnt house looks extremely difficult. I would not want to care for that one.

  2. It's not as effective aesthetically as multiples maybe, but it's SO MUCH MORE FUN!

    1. You are quite right! I'm trying to convince myself, though, that greater beauty of landscape is funner--but it's been difficult.

  3. I struggle with a "let's try one" approach to gardening too. In part, it reflects residual uncertainty about what I can plant here, especially given the deepening drought, but it's also a holdover from the 2 decades I spent gardening in tiny areas. It has been surprisingly hard for me to think big - in terms of a landscape - instead of tiny vignettes viewed up close.

    It's good to see people removing or at least cutting back on lawns. Lawns do provide a nice frame for plants but, when people find they can't keep them green, I think they'll disappear. I'd get rid of the rest of mine overnight if I had the money to pay someone to take it out (the right way).

    1. Interesting, I never thought of that aspect, scaling up in size. It is very different than a jewel-box kind of garden. I was just reading about Ganna Walska and Lotusland--when she'd pick out a particular cactus or shrub to buy, she'd get 200 of that particular cactus or shrub. That's an even bigger scale, 25 acres. I can't imagine!

      There were a few lawns on the same street obviously watered every single day, but more and more people will either get priced out of lawns or decide spending $500 a month on one is ridiculous, which it is.

  4. Just shows how many are out there if going lawnless, and how possible and even more beautiful it could be. The last one, I suspect they'll go totally lawn free too once those green verdant patches go brown later on...

    1. Or if their water bill continues to be larger than their mortgage payment!

  5. We just came back from LA. Saw those purple flowers all along the road, but going to fast for photos.
    Is that limonium perezii...sea lavender? It was beautiful.

    1. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

      Right, Limonium perezii. A bit invasive, but so easy to pull, and I noticed yesterday the Monarch butterflies feed upon the flowers.

  6. I like seeing neighborhoods and the variety of ideas that people put into their gardens, so thanks for doing it!

    (One climate's "a lot of lawn" is another climate's "smallish front lawn".)

    1. Lawn is all relative, isn't it?

      I like neighborhood tours also.

  7. Looks top me like Mom Nature still does the best job of landscaping, but we can try.

  8. Glad to see that your neighbors are embracing drought tolerant landscaping. The news we hear of California and its lack of water is very disturbing, Now we just need to get your neighbors to shed wonky steps.


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