Congratulations to Jeanie and Lee in Scripps Ranch, for their resolve and their love of plants.Â Going from a lawn-centered â€œzero-scapeâ€ to a garden alive with xeriscape plants with beautiful colors and textures, and doing this with their own landscape ideas and muscle power demands respect.
Hoping to qualify for San Diegoâ€™s rebates for turfgrass removal and the installation of a micro-irrigation system, they discussed the how-to with a City inspector and put a design together.Â Here’s where Jeanie called me in to review her design and desired plants.
Assessing soil, micro-climate and the slightly sloping terrain I found that her wish list had excellent â€œbonesâ€ in it that needed few adjustments.
The permanent features to remain were the concrete turf edge, the edged planter beds and the palm trees (they would have their own irrigation). I recommended importing several large boulders which would help “ground” the landscape.
To add volume where the palm trees are only accents I suggested a couple of small trees, on both sides of the house;Â here Jeanie chose 2 ‘Catawba’ Crape Myrtles, one of them a multi-trunk specimen.
As we were fine-tuning her design and discussed longer-blooming low maintenance plants,Â Jeanie said that she likes to garden and is not averse to some maintenance, such as deadheading the Early Sunrise Coreopsis periodically to encourage new bloom.
I explained that Gazania would not be attractive long enough during the seasons. Instead I suggested Ghost Plant Graptopetalum paraguayense, an elegant, slowly spreading succulent whose grey-pinkish rosettes would make a pleasing connection with Coreopsis, Walkerâ€™s Low Catmint and Gaura, all on Jeanieâ€™s list of favorites.
For a captivating contrast to the frilly perennials we added several Foxtail Agave A. attenuata and ornamental grasses; for me the grasses are matchless in adding a relaxed and naturalistic, almost mysterious feeling to the landscape.Â Here Jeanie picked a short Purple Fountain-grass variety in a local nursery.
Complimenting the drought resistant plants would be aÂ Dwarf Yaupon Ilex vomitoria â€˜Nanaâ€™ that I hadnâ€™t used myself.Â My research showed that it might need a bit more water than the other plants, but Jeanie wanted to give it a try.Â This shrub, at 3-5 ft high/wide, develops a refined, attractive appearance with careful pruningÂ -Â a task that she looks forward to.
And the cost?Â Jeanie and Lee invested about $3,200 on materials plus $1,200 on labor to help Lee; the rebates should amount to about $1,070.Â Not bad for a diy landscape that can save them 60 to 70% water and is so pleasing to look at.Â As one of their friends exclaimed who came by and admired their achievement: â€œThis front yard is so much alive!â€
Read about the Cityâ€™s rebate program:Â http://www.sandiego.gov/water/conservation/residentialoutdoor.shtml