We’ve been in the process of converting our yard from grass to xeriscape (low water plantings). My wife and I were Master Gardeners in San Diego, and really enjoyed working in the yard. Our last version had a courtyard full of tropical plants, bananas, bouganvilla and stuff.
But moving here we are adapting to very low water desert landscaping. Here is a picture of the side of our house before the conversion. Looks a lot different than San Diego, huh???
It was taken last winter, when the Bermuda grass was brown. Bermuda goes dormant in the winter but greens up when the weather gets warm. You can see the large bushes right along the house.
We sprayed the grass last summer in order to kill it – Bermuda has to be sprayed during the hot season when it is actively growing. Just after Thanksgiving we moved in over 100 tons of small gravel and ‘fines’, really just matching dirt. We picked a color called ‘Mojave Gold’, which is a fair match to the dirt around here, since we are in the Mojave desert it should match.
Afterwards, the groundcover pretty well matches the brown of the dormant Bermuda. I removed the lawn sprinklers and put in low water drip irrigation, which just slowly drips water directly to the plant roots where desired. Plants we put in include:
8 Chilean mesquite
2 lacebark elms
2 shoestring acacias
2 palo verdes
trees already here
2 big olives
20 Texas Ranger sage
25 prostrate Rosemary
2 desert morning glory (white)
5 large oleander, already here
and lots of others – we wander the low water areas of the nurseries and pick up individual pots when something looks nice. There are probably another dozen flowering shrubs. The last owner also had put in flowering bulbs – iris and paperwhites. These are popping up around the yard, the recent rains helping them along as they are coming up away from where I put in the water.
We also added a raised bed garden in the back corner. I put in four planters each 4 x 8 feet for flowers and veggies. Some radish and carrot seeds went in a few weeks ago, and are doing well.
These are also watered by drip irrigation hose. We will be trying to grow tomatoes in this Vegas heat. The Tomato Lady says that if we follow her suggestions we can get tons of tomatoes. Five plants are in, flats of seeds are started, and I’ll keep you posted on this.