DIY Landscape Design

DISCLOSURE: I’m not a professional landscape designer. I just pretend to be one on my blog ;).

Summer is quickly approaching and I’ve been taking a hard look at the corner of my back yard that needs a little love. A few years ago we hired someone to put up a retaining wall and pour a circle patio so that we can enjoy the unused space. Well, it’s been a few years and we still don’t enjoy it as much as we should. The gazebo cover is tearing (it was a hand-me-down from neighbors that moved) and the hill is overgrown with weeds.

I pulled some weeds today and was left with a bare hill. It looks pathetic. I’ve had some grandiose thought of making it some tropical paradise but it wouldn’t work with the climate in my area. Every time I put some kind of plant here it just doesn’t take (we’ve got clay soil). The hill is difficult – it’s dry, clay, and has a harsh partial shade.

Most people don’t realize that San Diego is really a desert climate. We get about 9-10 inches of rain PER YEAR. The temperatures vary depending on how far you are from the ocean, I’m in an area where it’s usually 10 degrees warmer than the coast and is generally more sunny. So I have to be conscientious about how much water we’re using when it comes to landscaping. 

I’m fortunate enough to have quick access to the Water Conservation Garden and I’m able to look at real-life samples of xeriscaping and how we can create a sustainable garden (if you’re in San Diego, you should really check it out). Plus, they provide the “Nifty 50” guide that lists plants that are drought tolerant and are available in our region. I figured that it’s time to re-evaluate. So here’s what I’ve got:

Little hill with minimal plants
Little hill with minimal plants

I have a few plants in there that seem to be living without water—That’s good, The dot at the top shows the current location of the capped-off sprinkler head.[/caption]

Lastly, I need to consider maintenance. While most of the plants will be low maintenance, I will need to cut back the fountain grass and sage once a year… I’m fine with that! Mulch is definitely in order for this area, too. Not only will it help retain moisture, it keeps the weeds at bay and makes it look a lot better than, well, dirt. 

So that’s the plan. I’ll keep you updated on how it turns out!