drought tolerant plants

Labor Day - Drought Tolerant Labor of love

The drought tolerant garden and front curb are almost complete needing only the final but vital drip systems to be installed. The drip system will deliver water to the location of each plant set on a timer for 10 minutes twice weekly to begin with and then hopefully on a weekly plan.

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Stages recapped;

Soil and root removal.

We removed about 2” of top soil and dug up as many roots from the old grass as we could, this was laborious hard work but meant that no weed killer or other toxin was used in the process.The remaining soil was then compacted manually with a tamper.

Planning areas, laying weed barrier, adding top layers

The garden was mapped out with stakes separating areas that would be pathways and seating from areas devoted to plants. A shallow 2” trench was dug along the perimeter separating these areas and a flexible  4” barrier was laid down and secured with plastic stakes. The entire area was then covered with a black cloth weed barrier. For the pathways and seating areas we then added 2” of sand colored decomposed granite which was applied in successive layers, each layer being compacted using both a mechanical vibrating plate compactor and a tamper in more confined spaces. For the pathway and seating area and before adding the d.g. we placed random shaped 2” thick stone. As the d.g. was stabilized each compacted layer was sprayed with water to activate the stabilizing bonding agent.

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Where we were adding plants, we cut through the weed barrier and dug out a hole for each plant before filling with a combination of sand and enriched planting soil. The front curb was then finished with another layer of d.g. again compacted and activated with water.

We used loose sand around each of the plants in the front garden and finished this with pea gravel. We have reconsidered this plan as we are concerned that the pea gravel may retain too much heat to the detriment of the society garlic. As a remedy we will be pushing the gravel away from the garlic to create a berm to keep the garlic surrounded by cooler sand.

Planning a drought tolerant sidewalk

 I am planning a small drought tolerant garden for the area in front of my sidewalk and will be documenting my progress here.

The area is 3’ wide by 50’ long and has scattering of grass that is minimally watered by sprinklers.

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I plan to replace the grass with 2 borders of drought tolerant society garlic and a center section of dramatic agave plants.

There is a plethora of information and imagery on line devoted to the subject of drought resistant plants so choosing the color and species was not daunting. Once my choices had been narrowed down I turned to a local grower, Shelly Jennings of Worldwide Exotic Plants to find suitable sized plants. My goal was to find a medium sized agave that would serve as a focal point without becoming too unruly. Shelly’s nursery is large both in size and in the amazing variety of agave, aloe, grasses and shrubs making it a great one stop shop for my project.

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I chose a total of 12 Agave Univatata Aurea for the central section and will be adding 50 white and blue flowering garlic later for the borders. The agave will be space about 4’ apart and the garlic will be spaced at similar intervals but off center to the agave. The agave will produce smaller “baby” plants some of which I will keep for future use and the garlic will create bulb offspring which I will leave to  fill out the border.

Ground preparation:

Since I do not want to use any chemicals to kill the existing grass we will dig down to a 6” depth and remove both the soil and fine grass roots. Agaves need soil that drains well so the replacement soil will be a combination of sand mixed with potting mix.

Once the top soil is in place I will then have to decide whether to lay a series of drip lines or to water by hand. The existing water pipe is old and ugly but running a new line will be costly and logistically challenging as it would need to run under the sidewalk.

Once established both the agave and garlic plants will not require much water but when first planted the garlic will need to be watered 3 to 4 times a week. For this reason, I am planning on adding the garlic in the fall when hopefully we have less brutal heat.

To help retain moisture and to curtail weeds the top soil will be held in place by gravel. I have chosen Golden Coast gravel as the golden red tones will provide a nice contrast to the green, blue, purple and white plant colors. The gravel is not difficult to find and as I have a truck I was able to pick this up at a reasonable price from Prime Building Materials located in Sylmar.

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Before, during and after- our drought tolerant garden update.

When we last updated you our backyard looked something like this-- Martin Pierce Hardware Los Angeles Ca  90016

And now, with the drip system in place

martin pierce backyard drip system

we have been able to plant many varieties of drought tolerant plants and this area now looks like this--

Martin Pierce Hardware  Los Angeles Ca  90016

Before the construction--

Martin Pierce Hardware Los Angeles CA  90016

And where we are now--

Martin Pierce Hardware Los Angeles Ca  90016

As you can see, our little ceramic birdbath remains part of the new design plans, which I am certain will make our feathered friends happy.  Some of the plants and grasses we decided to use include:

  • This Golden barrel cactus – Iris beware!
  • Martin Pierce Hardware Los Angeles, Ca  90016

  • Aeonium clyclops
  • Agave
  • Blue fescue - a hardy drought resistant grass

The next step will be to put down the decomposed granite and sand to create pathways.

We purchased all of the exotic plants from World Wide Exotics Nursery and the blue fescue grass from Armstrong Nursery in Glendale.

Martin Pierce Hardware Los Angeles CA  90016

We will keep you posted as we complete each step of this transformation.

Have you altered your landscape as a result of the drought conditions?

To view our entire collection of architectural hardware, please vist our site at www.martinpierce.com.

Designers can visit the showroom located at:

5433 W. Washington Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA  90016

323 939 5929