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Design ideas for a small beach style drought-tolerant and full sun backyard gravel landscaping in Seattle for summer.

Coan Waterfront Landscape, Camano Island, WABeach Style Landscape, Seattle

From the street, a round rock pathway leads to a small seating area next to the water with a small fire pit. Low maintenance, drought resistant and salt tolerant plantings were used in mass and clumps. This garden has become the focus of the neighborhood with many visitors stopping and enjoying what has become a neighborhood landmark. Located on the shores of Puget Sound in Washington State. Photo by R. Scott Lankford

Design ideas for a small beach style drought-tolerant and full sun backyard gravel landscaping in Seattle for summer. —  Houzz

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This photo has 32 questions

meangrandma wrote:Mar 25, 2012
  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    Hi There. The Thymus serphyllum is one of the perfect plants. It is evergreen, year around, green in summer, turning bronzy in fall. It can be easly mowed at 3". If you mow it after the bloom, it tidies it up spent flowers and encourages growth. It doesn't like too much water, it doesn't like fertilizer and can burn. It also can take light traffic, and like most thymes it is fragrant and you can use it for cooking.

    There are many native plants ideal for your area. One of the most forgiving is the Oregon grape, Mahonia aquifolium. There are many varieties but the native one is tough, evergreen, sun or shade, salt tollerant and blooms with bright yellow flowers, followed by edible berries that are blue, (they are sour and have a big seed). The birds often get a little looped on the fermented berries in the fall.

    This is a medium shrub. There are many more natives that work in your yard, from low ground covers to trees, sun or shade. If you give me a setting or range of sizes I can help more, or you can contact me at, www.Scott@Lankfordarchitecture.com

  • rbcola
    Hello Scott,
    Again, love much about this design photo. My question is.....can I use many of your selected plantings in Southern IN. We've purchased a 2.5 acre lot that offers a slight gradual slope from the NE corner to the SW corner. The lot is surrounded by woods. Plenty of deer, wildlife. We plan to place the house approximately mid-way to give us a reasonable amount of space in back for family entertainment and outdoor privacy, similarly in front without too much front yard to mow! My husband and I are retired so I thought "terracing" would minimize the areas that need mowing. My main question is can I use the plants you've described in my location. We have plenty of lakes and one within 2 miles of the house....however, not on the water. It's Lake Monroe - which is a reservoir - not salt water. .........
    I like your work.......too bad you're so far away.
Jean Marsh Design wrote:Apr 6, 2012
belle2105 wrote:Apr 26, 2012
What are the purple flowers and the tall plants in teh middle of them?

- What are the purple flowers and the tall plants in the middle of them? Thank you.

  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    The purple flowers are Thymus serphyllum, red mother of thyme. The plant in the center is blue oat grass, Heliotrichon sempervirens. The taller grass behind these are Miscanthus gracillimus, Maiden grass and also siberian iris, iris siberica. Hope this helps.

Millcraft wrote:Jun 22, 2012
Is that Phlox?

  • jarrow
    How spectacular. Would this plant grow in south east Queensland Australia where the winters are mild and arid and the summers wet and humid?
  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    Thymus serphyllum should survive there. It does well in drought, so the wet summers may give it some trouble. I think if you plant it in a sunny, sandy loam it would survive. Try a small one to see the success and habit of the plant and let me know if it works.
Marcela Skinner wrote:Jul 11, 2012
  • TanCalGal
    Here is a list of nurseries that sell ornamental grasses in the Virginia Beach area. Take the photo you like with you and talk to them about what similar grasses you can plant (or Lowes etc). The nursery can help you identify the purple low growing ground cover,, too: it may be Purple Verbena (read about it here and also scroll to the comment from Hampton VA http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/251/#b ) Nursery can help you with a tree, too, but this multi trunk olive tree might be nice (Olea europae "Majestic Beauty" ) or a similar multi-trunk tree. http://www.lgyp.com/Ornamental-Grasses-in-Virginia.htm
    Aptos Residence · More Info
  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    The Thymus serphyllum should grow in your region. It takes very little water and tolerates light foot traffic. A slow growing works well in a seashore planting such as this. I suggest pinus contorta.
Deborah Loizides wrote:Sep 9, 2012
Where is this location"

laupall wrote:Oct 8, 2012
Need for my back yard ,I am going to have a circle with shell rock and a fire pit in the middle ..around it th

- Do the purple flowers spread .And if so is it fast growing. Thank you ,it is so beautiful!

  • cainshmain
    2-3 months is excellent. i am in Ontario Canada, zone 5 (i think Cdn. zones are different than U.S. ones though. 2-3 in Ontario is perfect, maybe i will try planting it and see if that's what I get. I am concerned otherwise that it looks messy or stringy afterwards. do you know? once blooms finish, is it then just greenery, or ?
  • marymoo24
    I'm in Ottawa, ON, and have lots of Mother of Thyme. After it's finished blooming, it stays green and looks great. :o)
insideout13 wrote:Feb 7, 2013
Does this grow in East Texas and what months of the year does it flower?

leehutson wrote:Mar 31, 2013
What is the ornamental grass? Will it grow in Columbia, SC?

- What is the ornamental grass? Will it grow in Columbia, SC?

cbrent11 wrote:May 24, 2013
What is the reddish plant next to the Iris on the right? Is it 'Broom Plant'?

- From islandgirl Reston Virginia

  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    Hi There,
    The reddish ground cover is Thymus serphyllum, red mother of thyme. It is a ground cover, evergreen, drought resistant and blooms May through July. Low maintenance, it is also deer resistant.
robyndavis wrote:May 25, 2013
Beautiful! We live on the North Shore of Long Island, NY- also coastal but different zone.

- Would these plants grow in our location?

  • danisvan
    I live on the North Shore of LI as well and have a ton of different types of Thymus, they are all doing great here, they are drought resistant and have a nice smell to them. I bought them at Martin Viette Nurseries, they carry them every spring in different types and colors.
  • wavellan
    Stunning! I love the way this looks. This is by far one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen.
kittyaudubon wrote:Jun 2, 2013
  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    Sorry for the miss information, I believe the plant you are asking about is Salvia.
  • kittyaudubon
    Thank you. Do you know which variety? Are they annuals? Perennials appear more more shrubby. Thank you for your beautiful work.
deestewart1 wrote:Feb 4, 2014
  • deestewart1
    Thanks very much for your kind reply - I'm a garden designer looking to create something similar in NW England. So, by 'plantings', you mean the larger grasses and shrubs and both these and the ground cover plants were planted into soil, mulched and they then sprawl over the gravel? Looks lovely!
  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    That's correct. The ground covers were planted in fertile mulch. The rest 1 g. and 5 g. shrubs grass's and plants were pit planted. The path was made as infertile as possible but the ground covers spread out and over the edges. Most of the plantings will work in NW England. We have a similar climate here but with a marine influence.
aaariel wrote:May 4, 2014
  • PRO
    Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
    The Thymus serphyllum is planted in 4" pots 18" on center in fertile mulch. It is important to prepare the base by cleaning out the existing bed of all weed stock by Roundup or hand removal. Once the bed is smooth and graded to 3" below the finish grade, apply preen or corn gluten as a pre-emergent before applying 3" fertile mulch. Plant the Thyme in the mulch and re apply Preen over the top.

    Thymus serphyllum can be found at several local nurseries. Swanson's in Ballard usually carries it. T & L Nursery in Redmond propagates it, but may only be wholesale. Call before you go.
  • elleno99
    Absolutely beautiful!
Sandy mcgwire wrote:May 14, 2014
Inviting :)

    jolee2 wrote:Jun 11, 2014
    • PRO
      Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
      There is no irrigation on site. The plants were initially hand watered for a month or so until the rainy season started until established and survive without additional water. The blue oat grass and the thymus are drought tolerant, although the oat grass will start to brown out a little after about 45 days without rain. Thank you for your interest.
    • PRO
      Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
      The path rock is 2" round river rock over weed barrier fabric.
    josprose wrote:Jun 13, 2014
    • PRO
      Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
      Hi There,

      I am not sure if you are talking about sending email through houzz or directly to Lankford Asscociates. I have little knowledge of the Houzz connect system, but I can always be reached at scott@lankfordarchitecture.com. Thank you for your interest.

    margiehoots1 wrote:Sep 13, 2014
    • gardengirlpbo5505
      Are any of these plantings considered native to WA? If not, do you have any native favorites to plant along a saltwater shoreline bulkhead? Your work is beautiful!
    • PRO
      Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
      Hi there, You may try Elymus glauca, blue beach grass along the bulkhead. It is pretty tough and can take some minor immersion. Gaultheria shallon is also a native that can take the salt along the bulkhead and is seen in native shoreline plantings. Hope this helps.
    gloaney wrote:Feb 20, 2015
    i live in sydney and would love to know the name of the purple flower

      kate7702 wrote:Mar 10, 2015
      What's the ground cover?

      • courtneyausmus

        what about for Canadian prairie climate?

      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        It works well there and can handle the drought in summer, but may freeze out in extreme cold depending on where you are. Thanks for asking.

      reggi2 wrote:Mar 18, 2015
      Would this selection of plantings grow in Southern Calif where we are

      Timeless Interior Design wrote:Jan 10, 2016
      • PRO
        Timeless Interior Design
        Wish you were local to draw a plan for me :(
      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        We are in zone 5 in the Northwest here in the photo. We also get some pretty severe winds, I think these planting would do well. The Blue oat grass, siberian iris and the thyme should be no problem. The ceanothus, lavender and heuchera would be appropriate there also. Rosemary may freeze out in severe winters.

        Thanks for asking,

        Scott Lankford, ASLA

      conniebravo wrote:Feb 27, 2016

      - What is the purple plant

      • conniebravo

        Oh my gosh, that is awesome, simply gorgeous, thanks for your time.

      • mcluse6574
        What does deer proof mean? Would it be goat proof,too?
      ltlieb wrote:Mar 6, 2016
      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        For tall grass's that are 4-5' in height, I suggest using the Miscanthus varieties. Although they are not evergreen, the flower heads in late winter are one of their spectacular features. I do cut them back early March each year to about 2' height but they quickly recover their presence in the yard. Miscanthus sinensis Gracillis and also the Miscanthus sinensis Strictus are good choices here.

        Another option is the Switch grass, Manicum virgatum 'Heavy metal' It is 4-5' tall and also a spectacular garden specimen.

        In the 3' range I suggest blue oat grass, Heliotrichon sempervirens which is evergreen in this areas. It is the clump grass center of the photo above.

        The Siberian Iris is very attractive in the 3-4' range but you are correct, it is deciduous.

        Although it is evergreen and very tough, I typically avoid the Pampas grass, Cortaderia. This is because it is miserable to work around the sawtooth leaves and it can become invasive in mild climates. It also looks very tropical.

        I hope this helps.

        Scott Lankford, ASLA

      • ltlieb

        Thank you for your quick response! I will look into the options you provided.

      Christine Litchfield wrote:Mar 8, 2016
      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        Yes most would. The humidity is a factor with the ground cover where high humidity could lead to fungus. Hope this helps and thanks for asking.


      sndvbll wrote:Mar 16, 2016
      reachlisa wrote:May 21, 2016
      • joolybug
        This is awesome design.....where can I find this to put in my idea Book? Thank you.
      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        Hi there,

        We didn't use an edging to the path. There is a weed barrier under the 4" of rock that runs up the sides of the rock to within 1" of the surface. The ground cover is intended to grow into the edge of the rock but is not invasive so it works well without edging. The weed barrier doesn't inhibit water flow but it does provide stability to keep the rock path from working down into the soil.

        You can see more of our work on Houzz. Just search Houzz, Lankford Associates Landscape Architects.

        Thanks for asking.

        Scott Lankford, ASLA

      kroudebush wrote:Aug 30, 2016
      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        Hi there. I typically set the thymus serphylum at 18" centers using a 4" pot. I would suggest using a circle template to help you layout the number of plants. For a 60' long path with thyme on both sides about 4' wide this works out to about 120 4" pots set 18" on center per side. Hope this helps and good luck with you planting.

        Scott Lankford, ASLA

      iriscog wrote:Jul 19, 2018
      • PRO
        Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

        The red plant is a Heuchera, Purple Palace. The tall stasis like flowers are taller than most varieties and the flowers are redder because of the soil conditions. Thanks for asking.

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