Fairy Yardmother Landscape Design

by Kathy Oberg, Landscape Designer, Los Angeles, CA.

Thank you for visiting my site. I enjoy bringing you pictures of gardens, plants, and ideas from sunny Southern California. I love sharing after-photos that show how my landscape plans, plant lists and layouts come to life.
As a designer, I use plants to create drama, provide color and form, and compliment the architectural style of your home.
I strive to provide a buffer from sun, street, and neighbors while still fostering connections.
Inspired plant choices and site layout can make any space a success.
I am a Certified Watershed Wise Professional, with techniques to improve soil health and keep more water on your property.
I can help you makeover your patio, paths, planting areas, or entire property. I will consult with you, choose a look you love, and compose a plan and plant list to update your landscape, re-using what you already have wherever we can.
Each project is different because it is about making your space really shine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Front Yards -- Cacti and Succulents

Here is a mixture of Front Yards and Parking strips that use Cacti and Succulents to varying degrees. The first two use them for their striking sculptural forms, mixed in with good, similarly drought-tolerant companions like Phormium (NZ Flax) and the more tropical Cannas and Giant Bird of Paradise.
This first Front Yard, with a distinctive Modernist feel, is very successful. The materials work well together. The warmth of the wood slats on the house balance the large spaced slabs of concrete with pebbles for the drive. The plants are beautifully balanced, and in scale with each other and the property. Textures and colors contrast and repeat.

The second Front Yard uses this row of Agaves underplanted with Senecio, two of the same succulents as used in the first yard, to add interest to the front lawn. It's simple and pretty.

Here we have the wild purple of the wall, and a lot of strong forms, including Agave once again. The Parking strips are planted with bold forms, even cactus. Tropical plants are mixed in.

The broken jug is a nice touch.

Here's an admirable effort to create a drought-resistant parking strip, but it just doesn't work from a design standpoint. I provide two views of the same strip.

Don't Do This!

Don't Do This!
Analyzing why this planting doesn't work, I've come up with a few reasons. There are too many different plants in a small space. They clearly do not all share the same texture, but somehow they have a similar value. Their size and growth habit is similar enough that they create a sort of mass. Nothing serves as a focal point. Nothing especially compliments or contrasts with anything else in the composition.

Here is a simple front yard which uses a limited number of Cacti and Agave to create a Southwestern feel. The prickly plants are set far enough in from the sidewalk and drive. It works, there's a nice balance between elements. It compliments the house, and is admirably low-maintenance and low-water.

The front yard of this turquoise house showcases a much more complicated composition, and one of the most beautifully designed drought-resistant front yards I've seen in Los Angeles. This is an expertly painted work of art. I include two more photos to showcase the details.

The tall cacti rise weightlessly from the ground, like kelp floating in the sea, rooted by the weight of the barrel cacti at their feet. The interplay between height and ground cover is optimal.

The boulders and rocks are placed seamlessly. There are so many varieties of cacti used in the composition, yet the groupings, the well-planned placement, and the contrast of high and low make everything work together beautifully.

I've heard people say while passing this yard that they "don't usually like cacti."
A well-designed and beautifully executed garden can make anyone take notice, and appreciate beauty in places they may have never expected to find it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you on the curb garden that doesn't work. Too many different varieties.Your last example was very well designed. The tall cactus add so much linear interest.