These ten essentials for a successful succulent front yard aren’t difficult to achieve yet make a big difference. We have designer Deana Rae McMillion to thank for chronicling and sharing her lawn-to-succulents transformation, not only after installation, but also over the ensuing three years. It looked great immediately, earned a city beautification award, and—as you’ll see—continued to improve. Deana Rae credits San Diego designer Laura Eubanks for inspiration.
In 2012, a year after she and her husband moved in, Deana Rae cut out a small area of the lawn and experimented with succulents. They did well, and an Agave americana quickly attained several feet in height and diameter. Notice how it (the big blue century plant at upper right) has grown over time and serves as a dramatic focal point that visually balances the “weight” of the house.
Succulent Essential #1: Know how large plants will get. For example, Agave americana, though easy to grow and often free for the asking, isn’t for every garden. (See my video, “What You MUST Know About Century Plants.”)
#2: Ask friends and neighbors for succulent cuttings. If you’re not going to put them in the ground right away, start them in pots.
#3: If soil is compacted and difficult to dig, give succulent roots a fighting chance by spading it and adding amendments prior to planting.
#4: To add interest and definition to the overall design, bring in large boulders. They weigh tons, so have them delivered and positioned BEFORE you plant.
#5: Don’t skip the infrastructure. Take care of pre-planting steps like installing and adjusting irrigation, evaluating runoff, repairing drains and walls, and upgrading hardscape.
#6: Design with undulating lines for a natural look. Straight lines and rows are more formal, seldom found in nature, and emphasize the linearity of nearby structures.
#7: In close-up areas, create complex plantings. Viewpoints that are broader and farther away need less detail and larger plants.
#8: Top-dress with crushed rock (gravel). Imagine this garden with only bare dirt between plants. Topdressing finishes a landscape aesthetically; adds interest, color and texture; discourages weeds and makes them easy to pull; moderates soil temperature; and slows moisture evaporation. “I had so much fun shopping for rocks and gravel,” Deana Rae says. “I think I love rocks as much as I do succulents.”
#9: Continue rocks and gravel into the parkway strip. This enhances the overall design, makes the front yard larger, and makes what’s sometimes called a “hell strip” easy to maintain.
#10: Include intriguing plant-rock combos within the larger garden. Such “vignettes” are optional, but offer a great way to express your creativity, enjoy your garden hands-on, and offer visitors delightful discoveries. A few examples:
Related info on this site:
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