nsalta

Landscape help needed!

nsalta
7 years ago
I recently moved in to this Phoenix patio home complex and have approached the board about the drab, tired landscaping. We have a very tight budget as most homeowners are on fixed budgets. We don't do winter grass anymore because of water usage. We want to add drip irrigation and native plants. We want to start with the entry walls which face north and the other east. Any help with design ideas would be appreciated! The last pic is the pool wall. Sad looking.

Comments (57)

  • jmfreitag
    7 years ago
    Get the book Designing with Succulents by Debra Lee Baldwin, you should be able to get it at the library. Also, maybe you could find a local college student studying landscape design to come up with a plan for you.
  • PRO
    Carolyn Choi
    7 years ago
    I would start by purchasing this inexpensive useful book : http://www.amazon.com/Gardening-Southwest-Wealth-Great-Garden/dp/B002B55XOU/ref=pd_sim_b_5
    You may also be interested to know that the world famous garden designer Beth Chatto ( England ) has a gravel garden that she hasn't watered artifically since it was established in 1991. Rain fall in her area is very scarce, as it is in yours. You can also find books on her gravel garden at Amazon.com. If I had $500 to spend on the landscaping I would start by buying one specimen native tree and surround it with gravel . Plant cacti and succulents in groups to fill in . There are some really amazing succulents to pick from. Get advice from your local garden center for the most drought-tolerant plants. Instead of an elaborate watering system you could buy or make some decorative rain barrels that would look good in the garden .
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  • PRO
    Sherri Fitzgerald - Ultimate Decor
    7 years ago
    I tried googling...plants that thrive in Phoenix...it brought up some nice websites. Also if you see someone with a nice garden close by...go talk to them about their yard. Ask for a garden tour and tell them what you are doing....most gardeners love to brag about their space and are usually generous about giving away extra plants....seeds ....etc. just make sure you get names of the plants and do a little research to make sure they are not invasive and will grow well. I buy a lot of my plants at.the end of our growing season. The nursery puts them on half price and they have always grown well.
  • nsalta
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    The book is on order! Thanks for all the tips. I am from Oregon and drought is not an issue there so the indigenous plants are new to me. I think the drip will be easy as a system is in place that I will tap into and I will do the labor. Most neighbors are elderly and will want to watch every move I make which will be great entertainment for them ; ) They have had the same old hedges since the seventies! Time for a little change I think.
  • PRO
    Urban Oasis Landscape Design
    7 years ago
    I hate to burst your bubble but there's a reason that people hire professionals and that is that they know how to design and they know how plants will grow and what will thrive where. They've spent years learning about design, construction and horticulture and you're not going to get that level of expertise reading one book. I can't tell you how many times I have to "undo" the work of homeowners who have wasted their money at the nursery buying plants that appeal to them but not knowing what their requirements are. Not to mention damage to foundations from trees planted too close or water damage from improperly installed irrigation. I'm all for DIY but you need a solid foundation to start.
  • PRO
    Pamela Bateman Garden Design
    7 years ago
    To expand on Urban Oasis ~ Yes you can do a lot a research yourself, consult a local nursery, and get a lot of helpful information on Houzz. If it was your own landscape then it would be worth the trial and error if you have the time. Not all gardens need professional help and the journey of making your own garden paradise is worth the time and effort. The area you are concerned about is not owned by you but by the homeowners. There are liabilities to consider and again you have a board that may not welcome your hard work and research. I applaud your desire to improve the look of the area. It will benefit everyone if these common areas look better. Read as much as you can and present your finding to the board. I just hope they are enthusiastic as your are and take your dedication seriously. People are slow to change and your new ideas may not be welcome. As professionals we only want to warn you about problems that may come up. It is not an impossible task to create a public garden but it is sometimes better suited to a professional.
  • PRO
    Bargain Backer, LLC.
    7 years ago
    Some nice furniture would work wonders; perhaps a small pond with a water fountain.
    We carry lots and lots of garden products, great prices.
    http://www.bargainbacker.com/Garden_c_7.html
  • designideas4me
    7 years ago
    If you already have a water system of some type....I had a handiman do a great drip system for me for 100 labor and 60 in supplies. The local nursery wanted $1500. It wasnt that hard. I called a local nursery owner who helped us for free as to what to buy and how to do it. But the people behind me who just moved in had a piece of land that was 10k sq feet and no water system and no grass and hardscape and they spent 25k to simply get watering put in and a slab on concrete and some palms. wow. Thats one reason I bought my house. I loved the landscaping and pool and concrete path. You know i see you want to lower the water cost and trust me its bad out here in the summer with the heat. Maybe do the gravel rock scape idea for now with succulants in pots even for greenery. OMG that red apple ground cover will take over in a few months if you water it. I just bought 6 flats for 60 bux. It will tripple in size every season.
  • Sigrid
    7 years ago
    Drive or stroll around your neighborhood or wider area and take pictures of stuff you like. Whip out your cell phone camera whenever you spot something nice. Talk to your neighbors. Visit any botanical gardens. Research in your local library and talk to the garden clubs. There's a huge wealth of free information out there, you just have to look for it.

    As a side point, Beth Chatto's dry gravel garden is nice, but fundamentally, England is a deforested temperate rain forest, and dry in England and dry in Arizona are kind of like a lot of snow in Alaska and a lot of snow in Washington DC. Two entirely different things.
  • Michelle Frye
    7 years ago
    Living in the Tucson Area coming from the midwest where everything is green I understand your problem. I recommend doing a little at a time since you are on a limited budget. The drip system should be first and then add plants as the seasons progress. All the pretty flowers look nice now but not so much in the heat of the summer..... The local nursery (NOT home depot or lowes!!! Most individuals that work there know very little...) has helped me tremendously! Another great place to go is the botanical gardens you can see things in season and out. Penstimons (i prefer the pink) are great and need little water. The 2 plants I purchased at the nursery 5 years ago have self sowed and are beautiful. I have had hundreds that sprout everywhere! Lantana is a hearty plant too can grow just about anywhere! Gravel/rock while it may seem yuck can really add to a landscape.
  • nsalta
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Great plant suggestions Sherri. I will do more research on the hardiness factor. These would make a big difference in front of the walls. I had planted some lantana last spring on my homes walls and it helped a lot. Enough to get the board willing to expand with some planting on some of the other bare walls. We did have a rare freeze last month which hurt the plants but I am told they come back. This is what I did in my area to soften the walls.
  • PRO
    Sherri Fitzgerald - Ultimate Decor
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    Very nice! I can see why they are letting you help with the yard ....your plants have a variety of textures that work well together. Although I live in a rainy area I use plant textures and groupings of rocks I collect to add interest in my gardens as well. you can see more of my work on this page for Project Valley Garden just click below the first picture. http://www.houzz.com/projects/34112/Valley-Garden
  • PRO
    Sherri Fitzgerald - Ultimate Decor
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    OOps I meant to show you this one instead of two of the pond......By the way I love the idea about the broken glass!! Looks like water and I bet it sparkles so nicely. I will give that one a try myself.
  • finowolf
    7 years ago
    Looks like you are in an older part of town with your painted orange tree and burmuda grass. Putting a desert landscape in will look out of place. Spend your money on a good feeding and thinning of the citrus. Add climbers to the walls like lady banks rose that stays pretty green in the winter on less water then some. Also some sterile olive trees will fit into an older neighborhood without the mess
  • Rick Carter
    7 years ago
    I am not sure if you have any vocational schools in your area or not but on a Budget of $500 they might be your only option for professional help. The students are in training but the instructor should be a professional. Some schools will even take on the entire project from start to finish. The labor is free and the students get a chance to do practical work. In many cases they are growing their own plants and that will enable them to use more at a lower cost. You may even be able to get them to do the planning for the next phases of your landscaping.
    Rick Carter
    Carter; Lawn Service
  • nsalta
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Thanks everyone so much! @finowolf, you are right, these are 1970's slump block built homes. I too am concerned with installing desert landscaping as it has always been kept with very formal hedges and I wasn't sure how to transition away from that. However I think the look of the adobe block might lend itself to more natural or perhaps tropical looks. The cost of keeping all the common area grass green year round is not an option. We only water in the summers now due to the cost of reseeding every season and it is still a big expense and not environmentally sound. I love the look of the olive trees and would love to use at least one, however I paid $100 for one to put in a lg. pot in my yard. Maybe I could swap it out or perhaps we should ask for more money up front!!! @rick and @jmfreitag, I will google the schools now, cross your fingers! Attached is a houzz photo I found for inspiration showing slump blocks with desert plants. What do you think?
  • penelopesdreamydesigns
    7 years ago
    Go with desert plants, they grow easily you don't have to water, such as penstemons, fairy dusters, prickly pear cactus, purple Santa Rita prickly pear and many others, barrel, hedgehog etc,, red yuccas. Steer clear of Oleanders as they are poisonous. Also many desert plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are very pretty and low maintenance. Type in AZ landscapers here on HOUZZ for more ideas.
  • carolwestover
    7 years ago
    High Country Gardens in Santa Fe is a good source for information, inspiration and plants. Start small with a plan and add as experience and funds permit.
  • aprilpinger
    7 years ago
    Wow. A lot of opinions from outside the area. We own a little landscape business here in Phoenix, and I'd like to help you sort some of this out. First of all, if you want to go inexpensive cacti and succulents are not the way to go. They are many times more expensive than traditional plants for equivalent size and they grow much slower.

    Now to attack the list from Sherri Fitzgerald.
    Medicinal aloe is one of the lesser expensive succulents. It does multiply, so you need to be prepared to thin it out occasionally. Yes, you can use it for sunburns. I lop off a leaf, scrape off the points, cut it length wise and apply it directly to the burn. You may be able to find a neighbor who will give you a stater plant for free. I have a few extra I would be happy to give you.
    African daisy will burn out in full sun and will not survive a hot summer.
    Aptenia is even worse. It's pretty, but plan on it being an annual that dies out in July and you can replant in September. They're not very expensive plants and I do this in my own yard.
    Some people really like roses. I am not one of them. They require a lot of work, so if you want something low maintenance this is not for you.
    The texas mountain laurel is beautiful in the spring. It has purple flowers that smell like grapes. However, it is very slow growing and the remainder of the year it is covered in brown pods that take the place of the flowers.
    Purple sage is great. You can get it in green leaves and silvery leaves. Not frost sensitive and they handle the heat well. They do need to be shaped, so plan on about once a month pruning during the growing season. (not winter)
    Bougainvilla handles the heat, but it will freeze back every year. It does come back, but make sure to cut it back in the spring. This also has very nasty thorns! I have been injured by this plant many a time.
    Lantana handles the heat well, but it does freeze. Just cut back the dead parts and it usually comes back. For new plants I would cover them in winter. It needs to be pruned regularly in the summer and it comes in a couple of different types. The trailing kind stays close to the ground and the mounding kind can get 3 ft high or taller.
    The mexican bird of paradise is meant to be pruned back to a nub every spring as it also freezes, but that's the only time of year you'll have to prune that one.
    Yellow belles can be grown as a shrub or a tree, depending on how you prune it. It can be a bit sensitive to frost, but typically not too bad.
    You mentioned tropical, which I love and have done in my own front yard. Most of the tropical plants need some shade and you can accomplish this with a well placed tree. The Tipu tree is a fast grower and does well in Phoenix. It does need to be pruned about 2x per year. (Most desert trees like Palo Verde and Mesquite need to be pruned once a month in the growing season.)
    Make sure you plant it at least 12 feet feet from the house.

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.landscapearizona.com/trees/images/Tipu-Tree.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.landscapearizona.com/arizonatrees-htm/&h=205&w=288&sz=36&tbnid=1BqOQmXpG48lPM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=126&zoom=1&usg=__MDAWve-fAxE1VhTprD864yjsBtI=&docid=wArK4vfugkl-TM&sa=X&ei=-RQQUYmEBumXyAHAqoDYCA&ved=0CFAQ9QEwAw&dur=887

    Quite often you can find rock for fee on Craigslist. You just have to move it.
    As far as the water system, if you are tapping into an existing system and you are connecting to PVC, you should be fine. A couple of tips, use the THICK PVC, not the thin stuff, and go as far as you can before switching to black line. This will minimize potential leaking and breaks. Always use the primer with the glue and always check for leaks before you bury anything. Make sure you have a backflow preventer, either in the valve or as a separate unit in line before the valves. If you are starting a system from scratch you ill probably need some help since this requires sweating a fitting onto the copper line.

    I do like the picture you posted above, but it contains more than $500 worth of plants. (or pretty close) If you want to go with a xeriscape, you will just need to add plants more slowly.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions or if you would like some free aloe.
    April Pinger
    PingOne Landscaping
  • oneofeleven
    7 years ago
    Have you thought about painting the pool wall? Perhaps someone in the complex has artistic skills and could paint some plants or vine designs on the wall. Failing that, just paint it a nice solid colour.
  • PRO
    Pamela Bateman Garden Design
    7 years ago
    April, so glad a "local" with lots of experience commented.
  • PRO
    Sherri Fitzgerald - Ultimate Decor
    7 years ago
    Glad you finally found someone who knows the area and what you need. All the best with your gardening!!
  • nsalta
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    A big thanks to all of you!!! Maybe I will post pics when we get something done!
  • myrnabee
    7 years ago
    As someone who grew up and still has family in the AZ desert I encourage you to listen to
    the local gardening advice. My mother has many of the plants April suggested in her beautiful yard - Bougainvilla, purple sage and bird of paradise (which I particularly love). She also has painted her cinder block wall a dusky purple which really calms the space and contrasts with the desert sage colors.
  • fpatel
    7 years ago
    Does your state have a Native Plant Society? They can be great resources, both for information and sometimes plants. Our state garden club offers low cost courses on gardening and landscape design so that might be another option. Many garden clubs or public gardens have plant sales for fundraisers which may be a way to purchase plants for less money.
  • finowolf
    7 years ago
    @aprilpinger hit the nail on the head. What I have found the cost of converting to desert will take years to recoup over the cost of water. You never said if you have sprinklers or flood irrigation. Plants grow fast compared to succulents. And your common grounds will look plush sooner. Remember bouganvilla have very delicate roots and will not transplant easily. No paint too much to maintain.
  • Iyare I
    7 years ago
    Sheri Fitzgerald, your pond picture was my inspiration picture when I did my backyard... Love your work!!!
  • Reade Gloeckner
    7 years ago
    Sheri, If you work with auto safety glass, using scissors will do the trick to cut through the rubbery substance between the two thin pieces of glass. I like the contrast in color and shape against the non tempered glass. If I could acquire tempered glass for free, I would add those pieces into my project as well. I am sure that you are aware that you must have gloves when working with glass, I was stupid and didn't and have a nice scar from being cut to the bone just above the thumb. Missed all nerves and tendons luckily. I knew better but am always speeding along. It is very time consuming to use the auto safety glass, but free.
  • libertybella45
    7 years ago
    where is this free auto safety glass? I'm in L.V NV....
  • Reade Gloeckner
    7 years ago
    Go to any auto glass place and you have to take broken windshields and cut out the pieces you want. It is somewhat tricky but as you can see from the pictures, the auto safety glass has a green tint as compared to thick non tempered glass thus giving some contrast and looks as if water is flowing from plant to plant. There is a substance between the two thin pieces of glass that you have to use scissors to cut the glass appropriately. You can't use the "spider webbed" glass, you are looking for the clear areas as much as possible though it is impossible to get completely clear due to having to break out the glass in the first place. You learn quickly about what to do and not to do, just wear adequate gloves. That is the most important concept. It took about three windshields to do my work but I am a perfectionist and picky. You might get away with less. Don't get into too much detail in answering why you want broken glass, just say a recycling project or else who knows they may charge you. I am in Indio CA and get all the windshield glass I want. It is the non tempered glass that is harder to get. But I have a connection here where I am now, so I am going to stockpile the glass and perhaps do some work and earn some funds. Good luck.
  • libertybella45
    7 years ago
    Thank you...
  • Greg Drabik
    7 years ago
    locals have the best advice
  • PRO
    Sherri Fitzgerald - Ultimate Decor
    7 years ago
    Reade
    Thanks I'll keep the gloves in mind. I guess that's a warning for people with kids and pets. Glass should be used in show or ornamental gardens only. I still think it looks amazing . Thanks again
  • Reade Gloeckner
    7 years ago
    If you take the time to tumble the glass, it takes off all the sharp edges, but in my case, I have a neighbor that feels two stray cat, ferrel cats I think that they are called and one house cat and two dogs is okay, when the two ferrel cats were using my gravel to unload if you will, not a good thing so I chose to leave out the time to tumble the glass and it works dandy. I also have a sign that indicates "Warning broken glass can cause severe injury." you never know in our society. It is a no brainer, but most people honestly are greedy and they really put their brain on vacation a lot of the times then are sue happy.
  • libertybella45
    7 years ago
    Thanks Reade Gloeckner,I plan to use this glass idea in my backyard area. I have a Pug and a Minpin. My son has 2 large dogs next door. The area the glass will cover will be out of their access range,sorry cats,when you pay the taxes on this home I will make it more to your comfort.
  • myrnabee
    7 years ago
    I don't really understand why anyone would want to have sharp broken glass in their yard. Or why you think it is ok to harm animals to avoid having to clean up a little poop. The other animals who can't read the warning sign you might post are little KIDS! I think these shiny bits might look attractive to them. This doesn't sound like a good idea.
  • nsalta
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Today, armed with my camera, I toured the Desert Botanical Garden here in Phoenix. Some nice displays of native plants, that were labeled which was a big help. I also picked up several books from the library. I spoke with our grounds keeper about how we will be able to tie into the current watering system which gets a bit complicated as there is not a dedicated valve so the plants would be on the same watering schedule as the grass areas which will be to often once they are established. It seems there is a lot to figure out!
  • libertybella45
    7 years ago
    Myrnabee, So sorry if you think I got to this age (over 65) a retired SW'er and think that my objective at this time of my life is to harm anything. Guess I'll have to take out the rose bushes,bougainvilla,the pool,and all my orleander,WOW !
  • designideas4me
    7 years ago
    They make acrylic decorative shapes sold at craft stores that you can use instead of glass. You can also use spray paint on other objects like pine cones.. I did that.. there are other options to use instead of glass. I dont think the glass is a sfe option either unless its in the back yard and its fenced off like a pool.
  • libertybella45
    7 years ago
    deignideas4me---- ---So kool this design is really for ME and my yard. Did you like the glow in the dark pool pots around the edge of the pool ?
  • Reade Gloeckner
    7 years ago
    In response to Mymabee, I live in a gated community for seniors therefore there are no children around here. Half of our residents are snowbirds. As far as sharp glass and a little poop. Get your facts straight, first of all residents are required by the rules to walk their pets with a leash, something many are violating. Secondly, it is not a little poop. We have many ferrel cats located here because residents don't follow the rules and feed the cats. It is my yard and I didn't enjoy picking up three to four piles of pop daily. Cats are smart enough animals that they realize that their paws COULD get cut if they encroached on my property, so they avoid it and no animals have been harmed. Now if I had a tumbler machine, I would tumble the glass. Cats still don't like larger stone, Arizona stone, but they like gravel. I'm on a strict budget and didn't have funds to replace all the gravel with another stone. I have placed a sign that indicates (and yes animals don't read) but residents can read and ensure not to let their animals use my yard to poop. Perhaps if they took the approach the beaches in Southern California and areas in New York where they issue a citation, it would be a different story. Basically I have the right to enjoy my yard, not everyone else and their animals or stray animals.

    I'm recycling glass that would otherwise fill the landfills, I'm saving huge costs in my design, and I have yet to get a complaint from the residents where I live. Most applaud my design and work.

    Now acrylic pieces, very expensive and I believe I said I was on a strict budget. Now, one last comment, the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Palm Desert use glass in their landscape I have found out. But I checked, no one uses all of the non tempered glass (including the particles that look like white sand) or auto safety glass. So if those cities are using glass in the islands of the roadway, that is more open and accessible than my place.
  • Reade Gloeckner
    7 years ago
    Okay one more comment, when I started this project I asked HOUZZ designers if they saw a problem with this and if I should put up a sign. A resounding YES it was fine and no I didn't have to put up a sign.
  • myrnabee
    7 years ago
    OK, I admit that I am overly sensitive about cat hate having lived next door to someone who threatened to poison neighborhood cats. (I don't have one and if I did I would keep it inside for the bird population's protection!) Also,I am not in ANY way a designer! So I sincerely apologize Reade.
  • Reade Gloeckner
    7 years ago
    Apology accepted. It is not that I hate cats, I am actually allergic to their dander and well when i live in a community that has so many stray cats and the residents are told not to feed them, doing so is against the rules and causing problems for residents who have gravel in their yard. I purchased the place with gravel and palm trees, so I did not have much option other than to change it from that boring look to what I have today. I learned some new things through the whole experience, wear gloves and one can use non tempered glass as well as auto safety glass. Honestly I love the auto safety glass mixed in, but if I am going to go through the trouble to get what I did for my yard, it is going to be a costly option for clients, because it is really time consuming, getting the glass, hauling it, then cutting it up and discarding what I don't use. Non tempered glass is a no brainer and I use all of the glass each speck.
  • nsalta
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Here are the pics of the new landscaping. We scored on a free dump truck of beautiful dirt off craigslist! I tied into the existing irrigation with pressure reducing drips. Bought small plants but lots of them. Two girls and two shovels later this is it. Looking forward to seeing it a bit more mature. Best of all the community is very pleased!
  • PRO
    Sherri Fitzgerald - Ultimate Decor
    7 years ago
    Looking much better! As the plants grow it should be very nice and it can be expanded on as the years go on. Keep an eye on Craig's list for garden decor ...benches.. statues etc. You may get some good finds. Glad to hear the community is happy..it makes a world of difference when your hard work is noticed ! Great job!
  • the1pearson
    7 years ago
    find your local extension office and talk with them. FREE EXPERTS!!!
  • Mike McGarvey
    3 years ago

    Join a garden club. They're locals, understand HOAs, and have free plants! Some probably have a handle on design. Visit their landscapes. Oh, and they are probably about your age. Same as mine. Retirement age.