The contractor friend I helped design this for did a number of things on the fly, including surprising me that it had to be LEED certified.
Even with that, sketchy maintenance and caliche soils are giving way to a maturing planting for more than the usual, bullet-proof plant posse of Yucca-Sotol-Purple Three Awn-blah blah blah.
Though the latter is there.
The end-of-the-monsoon skies and a quick flash of warm, humid air help provide a backdrop of my simple design of Quercus fusiformis, Nolina greenei, Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Prostrata’, and accents of beefy Yucca faxoniana and Dasylirion wheeleri.
These are actually the first live oaks I noticed when I drove by, and they just need some light, interior pruning with some more drip emitters.
But those root sprouts…just let them fill in and mow to 4″ like a groundcover.
The sides and decline or removal of once-thriving native wildflowers is disappointing to me. But the maintenance here is finally better than it was.
To a drive-by, these key areas have impact. But do they have the impact designed into them originally?
This worked, especially with the Yucca faxoniana, but I cannot ignore the large bare stretch by the Rhus lanceolata.
The original wildflowers are gone at the far left end among the agaves, and the low evergreen Ericameria laricifolia missing from the near, right.
Yet holding their ground and defining the space nicely with the other plants missing, the yuccas and the framed yuccas with Nolina greenei behind both work. The low Rhus lanceolata in front defines the space for drivers, too.
Looking forward towards the yuccas and beargrasses more closely…
My design had more shrubs and so did that post-installation view, than exists now. Not to mention the low wall the developer deleted.
Maintenance is usually some of the reason, with drip irrigation not re-buried correctly, as periodic erosion occurs. More changes hit during installation.
Water runs downhill, so look to the right side of this photo. The planted and naturalized areas offer proof.
Another person just told me how “it’s not a good idea to plant in ponding areas and drainage swales.” Like this:
I bet my person would find that acceptable, if only the weeds were herbicided. It’s even a historic plaza on El Camino Real.
As a designer who values enduring aspects of history or nature, that basin would be much better with native arroyo trees filling in and softening all the gravel plaza area behind it. Human and wildlife habitat.
These basins in my decade-old design were perfect for the latter, on the right side of the first photo and now below.
I’m not sure all the grasses specified and installed in the pond bottoms made it, but some did. Most of the unirrigated native trees made it.
Xeric trees were specified, typical of settings getting deluged then staying dry, yet the deluge elevates soil moisture enough for long-term tree growth…similar to what’s observed in many of our arroyos.
Trees were planted from smaller sizes than is regional convention. No irrigation was used in the basin, except DriWater or water truck applications the first year. That same idea was used in other basins in the same development, with similar success.
Soil: sandy loam or gravelly sand, which allows water and roots to develop deeply.