Now to My Landscape

I’m starting the design of the garden spaces at my new home. Study sketches are loose and rough, since they get marked up! That’s already revealing some things that won’t work.

My design statement:
serene, inviting, and sometimes dramatic outdoor spaces, with the soul of the desert

Don’t laugh; that’s to help me carry through with the idea!


Here’s Option ‘A’ (front / northwest at the top):


Once I’ve explored a few options, I might import the best design direction into SketchUp, to “walk around” the property and further refine a final design in CAD.


The front, in and out:




A tiny courtyard off my home office:



In back:






But here’s one catch.


When I’m out on the covered patio, I see that. So…


…I’ll work hard on the spot between my patio and their property. My first hunch is to build a wire mesh or hog panel trellis immediately between the cover’s columns, then plant a dense, evergreen vine.

The male half of the neighboring household and I get along well, and my not-so-subtle screening solution has already been discussed. We both agree on the issue.


The other catch: views to the unbuildable hill lot with desert growth should be preserved, since once the area is built out, I won’t have mountains or other vistas. That hill out back is the power here, and the dining room view is desert serenity.



Plant selection is to come, once functions and forms are explored and established.


9 Replies to “Now to My Landscape”

  1. Maybe Mr Next Door could be nudged to plant something, beyond that patch of very green lawn?
    We also had to work hard to screen neighbours on two sides with a similar bleak lawn and wall attitude to their garden. The good thing is, it’s amazing how effective a delicate filigree of trellis, screen, or leafy branches is.

    The mister may be a lost cause, but I’ll try to be optimistic. The micro-lawn is odd (for dogs and wife), shears his shrubs before they flower and “get out of hand” (snakes), and prefers nothing but trees and raised beds (snakes). He’s not into roadrunners either (our state bird that eats snakes). We like similar beers, though.

    Normally I would go with such a delicate filagree (I enjoy your eloquence!), and he may plant a tree on his side, but my end will probably be something less delicate and more architectural – an instant screen using my house. Further studies are on hold due to a deadline thrown at me on a paying project, but soon…soon!

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  2. Enjoying seeing this process. Too often we see only a ‘finished product’ from a gardener/LA of their own home, and own homes are so personal and different.

    Certainly can’t block that dining room view!

    The builder refunded my rock wall credit, which was to go to raising the existing wall 2 feet or building a new one out front. I am starting to see the point of raising some of the rear wall; you’re right on keeping that dining table view! Own homes are different, especially than “the fortress” in El Paso as someone referred to it as!

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  3. What about putting the trellis right on the edge of the house above or up against the wall, rather than on the edge of the patio, and scale it horizontally just to the edge of where you need screening on the patio? You’d preserve the view out from the inside of the house and not block your own views out from the patio. Could you maybe anchor a screen into the top of the wall and the corner of the house for a more minimalist footprint?

    I’m really enjoying seeing how you’re developing this!

    Hi, ATX Lori! I’ll need to look at your idea some, though most of my view out the patio is to the hill, with no views towards the other yard. From inside, the dining window faces a narrow viewshed to the far rock wall and hill, with little towards the patio or the neighbor. Must sketch some more…

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  4. I like your designs and look forward to seeing them develope and materialise, I see the catch between neighbouring properties, it’s a pity that lovely natural stone wall wasn’t build to 6ft. for the first few feet from the house wall, and I see why you do not want to block the desert view, I’m afraid I can’t think of any suggestion,

    Making something that doesn’t work to function well is the best part of design. Now onto other options and sketches!!!

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  5. I love your design statement and the sketches, and I can’t wait to see it evolve. I like Christina’s idea of angled lathes, or can you do hanging plants from the top?

    Thanks, me too. My next option is starting, and ocotillos are on my mind in front… Her angled idea now has 2-1/2 votes! (I’m only 1/2 way there) Hanging plants…actually with the flat patio cover roof and containers on it, maybe??

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  6. I especially love what you’ve drawn up for the back garden. Any of the trees been selected yet?

    Thanks. Not sure on species yet, but I want something larger in a few places, front and back!

    I take that back on at least 1 species…I’m pretty sure I want to use Oreocereus celsianus / Old Man of the Andes in the office patio area for the vertical…

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  7. How exciting, a bare slate to work on! So many possibilities. Personally, I’m not fond of the wire trellis covered with a dense evergreen vine idea. I think it would ruin the architecture of the stone wall (and I love that it’s a stone wall, and not the stucco covered cinder block that we have here). It doesn’t take much to create a visual boundary. Even a see-through tree (or two) would work, unless you like to hang out in the backyard in the buff and want more privacy. Even then, you can put up sheer curtains around the seating area. From your neighbor’s side they wouldn’t be able to see in, but you could see out, and you could pull back the curtains as you wish, or never pull them closed on the view side. I wonder also if you have other architectural options or if you have HOA restrictions (i.e. expanding the patio and putting in a grill area). Are you going to do any grade changes (i.e. rain catchment)? Water feature? Firepit? I’m eager to see what you come up with!

    It’s exciting, and this designer likes the challenge. Fortunately any screening will be on the porch cover side and not the rock wall side, so I can keep that view in the last photo…I originally wanted some narrow trees there, but there would go the pristine look using one of my sketches.

    I might explore some type of fabric enclosure, though it will take some design to fit in. No HOA restrictions on that or a wall that doesn’t block views, of which they are really distant, anyway. In further options, I might rotate the fireplace wall 90 degrees, to screen all that area, plus plant trees. Definintely water harvesting, and am figuring out if if I can use a tank to store water given I have several roof drains, too.

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  8. If you put angles lathes between the columns the view of you neighbours would be obscured but there would be light casting interesting shadows. A not so heavy planting on it would mean it didn’t feel so enclosed.

    Your idea just might work, since it screens immediately and still lets in some of the breeze. Thanks!

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