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If you garden on a hillside, no doubt you know how important it is to “work with nature," as designer Steve McDearmon advises. Doing so was his biggest challenge in landscaping this steep, street-side garden north of San Diego.
“At the beginning," Steve recalls, "it was bare dirt with a pile of boulders at the bottom." The land’s susceptibility to erosion, plus its length and grade, made access and installation difficult. As their budget permitted, the homeowners worked with Steve in phases over several years. The result: An exotic, drought-tolerant display of cycads and succulents---on a slope that won't slide into the street below.
Do join me virtually in Donna and Paul Carlomagno's garden, see clever solutions to ten challenges in before-and-after's, and discover colorful succulents the couple enjoy "every time we go outdoors."
- Location: Hillside with an 180-degree view to the east and south
- Size of streetside garden: 200+ feet long x 20 feet high x 10 to 15 feet wide.
- Size of upper garden with path, along house and deck: 150 feet.
- Special features: Cactus-and-agave garden, tree aloes, cycads, terraces and stream bed---all visible from the large deck above.
- Grade: One foot descent per foot of length
- Age of plantings: 5 to 7 years
Challenges and Solutions
Overall: To make a long, steep, streetside garden appealing yet practical.
Challenge: Make the garden exotic yet drought-tolerant
Challenge: Prevent slope erosion during winter rains
Challenge: Keep wood deck posts dry
Challenge: Make a stacked-stone wall interesting
Challenge: Add tough, low-water, easy-care trees
Challenge: Create a natural path edging to confine DG
Challenges: Access steep succulent garden for maintenance; cover bare soil with something less expensive than crushed rock
Why does a succulent garden need topdressing?
Let me count the ways! Topdressing...
- lends a finished look
- diffuses the impact of rain on soil
- slows erosion
- cuts down on weed germination
- make weeds easier to pull
- holds moisture in soil
- protects roots from extremes of heat, cold and sun.
Come See and Use the Garden!
"We also have a business called Carlomagno Gardens," Donna says. "We offer our space for succulent arrangement classes, semi-small gatherings, bridal parties, showers, and much more." She adds that for event arrangements, people "can use what they like from our succulents and protea." Contact Donna.