Welcome to our November edition.
Last month we discussed the challenges of this NorCal/ Mediterranean landscape, which included working within the proportions of the yard so that everything looks like it “fits,” and establishing two different themes while maintaining continuity. This month we will examine the specific solutions to those challenges through our choices of hardscape and softscape.
Beginning with the hardscape, I want to call your attention to the flagstone. Flagstone is not the name of a particular stone; it is the name of a style of patio or a type of stone that can be cut into slabs of various sizes. Available in a broad range of colors and textures, flagstone has an organic beauty that blends perfectly with the natural setting of a landscape. For this project, I selected a quartz flagstone called Canadian Walnut because of its beautifully variegated coloration (please refer to last month’s article, or go to our website under publications). This stone was one of the most expensive selections and if we had needed to cover a larger space, I might have suggested something more economical. However for 700 square feet, the quartz would not break the bank, and for this project it provided the biggest bang for the buck. The different hues of tan worked well with both themes, as well as the house, bringing a richer look and feel to the overall experience of the yard. And because the stone is visually dynamic, it makes much out of a relatively small space.
I needed the plants to make much out of a relatively small space, too. One way that designers do this is to use smaller, compact plants, but that can create a busy landscape. Since I believe that landscapes should be peaceful and inviting, I chose to mix the combinations by going with fewer but larger, high impact plants mixed with smaller perennials. The bright red roses (Double Knockout) are a great example of how “less is more,” especially in a smaller space. With this in mind, I also used smaller varieties of Lavender and Chinese fringe flower. For brightness, I used Coleonema Sunset Gold, not Pacific Sunset, which is the larger of the two and hard to tell apart when small. For additional texture and interest, I selected an unusual clumping grass called Carex Bronze.
Along the fence line, I followed the same “less is more” principle. The criteria for plant selection here was very specific, again please refer to last month’s article. The clients
did not want the look of a hedge, a wall of foliage, but they did want the function. They also wanted it to be evergreen to maintain year round privacy, and to prevent adding additional leaves to the heavy leaf fall they receive from neighboring trees. This meant choosing a small tree with a very compact growing habit, but tall enough to create privacy that would look attractive and be low maintenance. With such a specific list of requirements, the selection was quickly narrowed down to Prunus carolinana “Bright ‘N Tight” (a pyramid-shaped variety of Cherry Laurel).
Next is the pool area. This pocket-sized part of the yard is made even smaller by the presence of the pool so space to create something new was at a premium, making it a good example of what can be done with small spaces. In situations such as these I prefer to use larger plants to “capture the effect.” The cost of mature plants for these areas does not significantly impact the budget, but it does make the theme immediately apparent. And in this case, it worked well with the broader setting. The neighboring trees (not shown) are already quite big, so smaller plants would seem out of place.
As we conclude our landscape discussion, I want to call you attention to the QR codes at the base of the page. These are links to YouTube videos about this project and the featured plant in “Let’s Talk Plants.” I encourage you to scan these with your smart phone, or go on YouTube using the address coding. The videos provide more in-depth coverage, showing more of the yard and detailing the process.
Lastly, I conclude with a couple things near and dear to me. Next month’s edition will be an inspirational article. This is our third year and each year we receive great comments, sincere and very much appreciated. Also, I want to express our appreciation for the community’s support. We’ve had a very busy year and will continue to work throughout the winter months. As I have often said, plants greatly prefer to live in the ground than in a plastic container. In hot or cold weather, the ground is a perfect insulator. So whether you need maintenance to get your yard ready for the holidays, or need a “face lift” give us a call or go to our website, click on appointments. Good Gardening!