Key Areas, Intensity Missing

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.

Maintenance is usually some of the reason, with drip irrigation not re-buried correctly, as periodic erosion occurs.


So was installation: the developer’s field person let me know about his waiving the contractor’s occasional errors in plant and even drip emitter placement, compared to what my plans specified.


8/15/17 weather: 92 / 64 / 0.00

Mesic Low, Xeric High

I always say this, because it’s the natural world’s model.

Modeling design on how water moves with gravity pays off with successful landscapes.


Xeric plants are on top where the sandy loam grains sharply, but in the basin which floods briefly and the soil stays moist longer. It’s similar to a broad arroyo in the general hydrology.

There, I used mesic Celtis reticulata and Prosopis pubescens plus seeding.


On that high area, there are some volunteers of the very xeric, sandy soil specialist Psorothamnus scoparius.

This basin or ponding area isn’t the most aesthetic part of my design or the overall development, but it’s required so excessive runoff from development can safely exit properties. Usually such areas are fenced in with chain link, inside only bare dirt kept free of plants or covered in rock kept free of plants.

Here, arroyo plants absorb that extra water and provide habitat for wildlife. More attractive and productive than barbed wire, chain link and rock.

Another view of the basin below.


8/13/17 weather: 89 / 68 / T

The Edge: Change and Repeat

The edge is key when designing a space. When maintenance fails or rabbits defy the rabbit-proof plant lists, something must provide interest to movement.

Even in a car, even with our huge skies, repeated Dasylirion wheeleri provide rhythm out in front of the hills of creosote.


Fouquieria splendens provide strong vertical accents, using seed-grown plants specified from Mountain States nursery. Extra humidity and periodic soaking rains in the monsoon season keep ocotillos leafed out, making the vertical masses even stronger.

Small Agave neomexicana punctuate curb edges. Even with the original wildflowers “gone”, they grow in spiky balls.


The agaves at the edge with cactus and seeded grasses stop, as endless Larrea tridentata and median plants fade in along the road’s rise. Then a change to other accents, then another change, and repeat, is how appealing streetscapes are often designed.

More Dasylirion wheeleri, Leucophyllum zygophyllum, and Aristida purpurea clumps accented with Yucca faxoniana continue uphill.

This area was limited in plant choices that won’t mature to block neighboring homes’ views towards the left – east to the Organ Mountains. Hence no trees anywhere on the climb.


Other successful parts of this streetscape you haven’t seen are next.

8/9/17 weather: 93 / 69 / 0.00