A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
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has been faced with brick and the area behind
it filled with drought-tolerant plants which can
survive some neglect.
In the photo, above, silvery
green Helichrysum cascades over the edge. Gigantic
agaves and large Flax (Phormium) add drama. In summer the
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) trees provide
shade and white flowers to this predominantly gray-green
narrow landscape at the side of a building. All the plants
need little water and they visually break up the building's blank
gray wall with big and bold combined with light and delicate.
-- whether they are made of poured concrete,
concrete blocks, or stacked railroad ties--are often the
most unloved features in a landscape.
The job of these one-sided walls is to hold the earth back and
keep it from crumbling or crashing into a walk, a
driveway, a street, or a backyard.
Because these walls are often
low, they are frequently left plain or simply have a coat of
paint slapped on them. So here are a few ideas of how
plants can turn a utilitarian feature into a beautiful asset
in your garden.
This photo shows a good way
to layer plants. On this 4 foot high
retaining wall at the front of a lawn, the owners
have planted Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) to
grow up the wall. Creeping fig should face away
from direct hot sunlight and needs regular pruning.
could also be used this way.
Spilling over the top of the wall is
brighter green ornamental grass and, behind that on top, a low
growing hedge of English Boxwood (Buxus microphylla)
which encloses a traditional lawn. In desert climates
Boxwood is a better choice.
Grasses on top of retaining walls give a waterfall
effect, especially in summer when they cascade over the edge
of the wall.
Another example of the
cascading effect of grasses--this time
Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia)
drifting down over a low river rock retaining wall
at the edge of a driveway. Deer Grass is very
drought tolerant and easy care.
This neat and tidy double
hedge on the top of a
stuccoed retaining wall combines a taller
Pittosporum hedge in back and
Indian Hawthorne (Rhaphiolepis
indica) as the lower hedge in front. In spring
the Indian Hawthorne is densely covered with bright
(Anigozanthus) is in essentially a raised
flower bed, consider it an inspiration for the top
of your retaining wall. It is a simple planting,
colorful for months on end in summer and very
drought tolerant. Kangaroo Paw makes a good cut
flower for your home and will rebloom into Fall if you cut
the stems down to the base.
For 6 other suggestions for garden walls,
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