Monday, August 17, 2009

RIP to My Backyard Lawn

This year I decided to let my lawn go. We are in a heavy drought and have been put on a watering “schedule” by the city. I decided that I would rather have my beautiful flower gardens in containers instead of a green lawn in my backyard. So that water that I would have used on my lawn now goes to all my container plants and my pool.

As you can probably guess, the area where the lawn was looks just awful. Soon it will be dirt and dead weeds. Now it’s just dead weeds. My thought is to create some type of xeriscape landscape instead of a lawn. This will help to reduce watering while still keeping my yard looking good. A few things to consider though;

1) I don’t want dirt that is showing. I have a pool and the breezes would just blow the dust into the pool, making a big mess.
2) I have a dog. I thought about putting small pebbles down, but feel that it would be hard to pick up his “messes” and it would be rough on his feet. Plus he loves to roll in the weeds and dirt. Of course, that could be a benefit to putting down pebbles! No more dusty dog!
3) I want color! Flowers! Beautiful displays! Ok, maybe that’s asking a bit much for a xeriscape, but I at least want color.

I am in a quandary and truthfully, really don’t know how to approach this. I’ve never done xeriscaping or even planted much of a drought tolerant garden. But I bet you have! So I thought that I would ask for your help. A few questions I’ve asked myself:

1) What plants can I put in that will give me color, yet be drought tolerant?
2) What can I use for mulch that would be attractive, practical and easy on my dogs’ feet and won’t blow into the pool in a good wind?
3) How will I blend it into my tropical (“tiki”) d├ęcor in the other half of the yard?

Help! I’m not sure which way to go at this point. Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inspiration at Quail Botanical Gardens

Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, CA is a gardener’s paradise. It is over 35 acres of exhibits and plantings of bamboo groves, desert gardens, tropical rainforest, California native plants, and my very favorite, the Underwater Succulent Garden. And that’s just for starters! One could spend all day strolling through the different gardens letting your imaginations run wild. Can you see yourself strolling through the Australian outback, viewing the native plantings or sitting at the base of a waterfall in a tropical rainforest, surrounded by beautiful shrubs, flowers, trees, etc? Better yet walk along the Undersea Succulent Garden where planting’s of various succulents literally makes it look like you are underwater! The colors are beautiful and there are sea creatures scattered about here and there. There are also quite a few trees and plants that inspired the illustrations of Theodor Seuss Geisel, non other than Dr. Seuss! If you’ve ever read Dr. Seuss, you will know the trees and shrubs when you see them. You can’t miss them!

The Gardens have many educational programs for both kids and adults. Check out their website at for a list of events.

Admission into the Gardens is $12.00 for adults, $8.00 for seniors, students and active military, $6.00 for kids 3-12 and kids under 3 are free. Not a bad price for a days’ worth of entertainment! The kids love walking around the gardens and getting dirty on the dirt paths and in the educational programs that are hosted. Adults will fall in love with the various gardens; there’s one for any gardening taste!

I have received a lot of inspiration from visiting these gardens. In fact, one of these days I am going to attempt my own “undersea garden”. I’m collection succulents and various plants for it now. But I don’t want to rush my inspiration! So one of these seasons I’ll get it done. In the meantime, I’ve got some really cool succulents to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August Gardening Tips

The heat of August can be really rough on your garden. Here I’ve offered some tips to help your plants survive this hot month and get ready for the temperature challenges of September!

- Watering is one of your main tasks this month, especially for plants in containers. It’s not unusual to have to water your container plants more than once a day; once in the morning and once at night. How much to water depends on how dry your soil gets.

- Water non-container plants deeply. This will help to get the water down to the roots and below, so that the roots will grow down and not up as they search for water. Deep roots lead to strong, healthy plants.

- If an annual appears sickly or is just not doing well, go ahead and pull it up and get rid of it. It’s too late in the season to worry about it.

- If a perennial looks like it’s not doing well, you could cut it back to a few inches. It will come back next year with healthier growth. However, please check with your local nursery or on-line resources before you cut your plant back. How much and how late in the year to cut it depends on the type of plant.

- Add mulch to your garden if needed. A thick (2 to 3”) layer of mulch will help your soil to stay moist in between watering and will help keep some of the direct sun off the roots so they stay a bit cooler.

- A moderate summer pruning of your roses might be in store. If your roses seem to be struggling, go ahead and prune them back 25 – 30%. You will be rewarded with lovely blooms again in the fall.

- Keep working on your composting! Add a little moisture to your compost pile if you haven’t done so in a while.

Most of all, continue to enjoy your garden in the cool evenings of San Diego. It won’t be long and they will be gone for this year, waiting to surprise you in the spring once again.