Thursday, March 25, 2010

Phoenix, Arizona Landscape Remodel - Desert Landscape weaved with Mediterranean

This Phoenix/Scottsdale area front yard landscape was recently completed by Ultimate Landscapes Inc. Many of our clients really enjoy the Mediterranean and Tuscan style landscape. Fortunately in the Arizona Desert, we are able to create a similar feel, while still staying true to the spirit of the surrounding area and water usage, etc. I really enjoy designing Desert landscapes with a Mediterranean influence.

Many of the new or remodeled homes we landscape have strong Mediterranean tones. The great thing about Arizona is that the spectrum of plant life and origin that we have to work with is seemingly endless. The above landscape features a tree from Brazil/Bolivia - Tipuana Tipu, a palm from Southwestern Europe (Mediterranean Fan Palm), a cactus from Central Mexico (Mexican Fence Post), the native Ocotillo and Golden Barrel, along with many others of course. Most require little to no water and all are easy to grow and very consistent.

This landscape is a testimony to the value of hardscapes, elevation changes, boulders, and natural materials. When I say hardscapes, I mean boulders, stone, masonry, granite, and grading. Although they require more time and resources, they are permanent and require no resources to maintain once finished. When panning a project, compare the hardscape to the base coat or primer coat in painting. With a great base, the colors, textures, and feel come through crystal clear.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Wonderful Rocky Pt (Malephora luteola) and Copper Ice Plant (Malephora crocea)

The yellow flowering Rocky Point Ice plant (Malephora Luteola) and pink -flowering Copper Ice Plant (Malephora Crocea) can be magnificent, colorful ground covers for Arizona Desert Landscaping. I can think of no other ground cover that will bloom as frequently and heavily as these do.

Last year (Jan 09) I planted two 1 gal Rocky Pts. in my own front yard and they bloomed gorgeous yellow flowers all the way until July. The flowers close at night and re-open every morning. They have a curiously perfect round shape like the one pictured if they have room to grow.

A plant that flowers almost year round, requires little to no water except for the hottest parts of summer and blends in great with the desert landscapes. Seems perfect. There is one issue though.. They seem to have a "hit or miss" JULY/AUGUST. Of the 2 I planted, 1 died very quickly in the midst of the summer and the other stressed out for about a month and returned to health in Sept. That surviving one is still blooming now (Mar 2010) and really has not stopped since I planted it over a year ago. We have planted over 1000 of these for clients the last 2-3 years (all 1gal) and there are probably 400 left.

Many of our clients are only in Arizona for the winter, so that makes this plant's solid winter color very valuable to them -most AZ plants bloom in Spring and Summer.

So, what will I leave you with ? If you choose to plant either of these Ice plants -or many others for that matter - Carpabrotus and Desert Ice are 2 other good ones we use - understand that they have a 50/50 chance to make it through the 1st summer and sometimes they just can't handle the heat. Their year round color is so powerful that this does not bother me nor does it bother a fair amount of our clients. So give them a chance and see what they do for your garden.

Tips: Plant in an area that gets at least at least 4 hours sun to full sun. Avoid high traffic areas. Water very little in the colder months (1-2 times per week - if that) Remember they are a succulents and by design retain water quite well. Water frequently in EXTREME heat only(95+) (3-5 times per week) and cross your fingers... if they make it through one summer, they seem to be a lot tougher next time around :) Good luck


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Powerful Affects of Contouring, Boulders, and Wash Scenes

This landscape remodel is a perfect example of the power of creative contouring, use of boulders and different types of granite and rip rap. Creating dimension and contrast in the hardscape and prep work really makes the plants/cacti/succulents blend in and look more natural. We have granite/boulders ranging from 1" to 3 ft wide and everything in between with an assortment of colors.

This Chandler landscape design requires very little maintenance but still provides a great deal of character to the home.

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