Have you given up on the hopes of having the landscape of your dreams? Well, how about creating it yourself? Since winter is planting season, now is a great time to think about your yard. If you are armed with a good plan, you can have a stunning landscape for your South Orange County home.
Do We Ditch the Lawn?
Before we go on, we should probably address the white elephant in the room. Does it still make sense to have a lawn? With water restrictions still in place for Orange County, a traditional lawn might not receive the kind of care and feeding that it should. However, there can be no one size fits all approach. You are the expert on your particular piece of land, and can factor in the specific conditions that affect your property. If you have a small or very uneven yard, mowing alone can be a challenge. You can use native, drought resistant plants, and still have a gorgeous yard. On the other hand, if you have a good sized yard that is relatively flat (at least in some places), keeping a lawn may be a desirable option, as long as you use native grasses that thrive on little water.
Now, Let’s Make a Plan
Creating the perfect yard doesn’t happen by accident, nor does it happen overnight. Keep in mind that you will learn by some level of trial and error; some replanting and transplanting is likely. However, making a long term plan, with short term goals for each season, is a practical approach.
Start by drafting an optimal layout; a quick sketch will do. If you have enough space for a tree, make sure to plan it far enough away from the house so that the roots don’t interfere with the foundation when full grown. Plus we don’t want the foliage to obscure the house. Next, if you have space for shrubs (or other plants that are no more than about 3-4 feet at full height), consider planting those close to the house (or around trees/boulders). Plant shorter (less than 1 foot) plants in front of the shrubs and beside walkways or around trees. Consider adding a walkway (flat squares of cement or natural stone will do the trick) for high traffic areas (and less lawn!). Also it is recommended to use mulch (this includes rocks) around the plants as another method for conserving water by protecting the soil from wind and sun, and aiding in water retention. If you want to learn more about mulch options, this blog provides a helpful starting point.
Select Your Plants
Native plants are all the rage. They support the natural ecosystem and attract butterflies. Because they are low maintenance, you’ll have prospective buyers floating in as well!
Choose plants that have varying heights and colors for visual interest. We have selected a few of our favorites below, but there are a few helpful guides you can use to determine what works best for your tastes and terrain. Glean from the experts at your local nursery on what to buy and how to plant it before you finalize your purchases.
- Trees: If you have a large enough lot, trees can provide a good source of shade. Palm trees are classic, and the Brahea Armata has blue/green fan-like blades that give a regal appearance. There are several flowering trees, fruit trees or native hardwood trees (such as oak) to choose from as well. Consider adding shrubs, grasses or other shorter plants around the tree(s) to finish the look. Plant this first, since trees take time to grow into maturity.
- Shrubs/Grasses: There are plenty of gorgeous plants that grow to low-medium height, but require no watering once established. Deergrass grows to about 3 feet in height and width. Native perennial penstemons have lovely blue, red/orange and pink flowers, and like gravelly soil. Fragrant English Lavender, Cleveland Sage and Mexican Bush sage have blue and purple flowers and attractive greyish green foliage.
- Short/Ground Cover Plants: The Common Yarrow is a spreading plant that can be mowed (lawn alternative anyone?), with clumps of white flowers. Beach Suncups have showy lemon yellow flowers with silver foliage, and are native to sand dunes. The Canyon Live-Forever is a succulent that grows well in containers or rock gardens; it has red-orange flowers in spring. Showy Stonecrop is a cactus with dainty pink flowers and smooth foliage.
- Containers and Climbers: To complete the look, consider adding climbing plants at a wall or trellis (such as the extravagant and care-free bougainvillia) or a large container for an inviting accent. Note that containers don’t allow the plant to establish deep roots, so more watering may be needed.
A great yard takes a some planning and patience, but is well worth the effort. If you are looking for more advice on how to increase the value of your home, or are getting ready to sell, contact The Reed Team today!