GFGR Part 2: Plan

Part 2 of the Great Front Garden Remodel actually preceded Part 1. I spent about a year planning, replanning, and anticipating what to do. What fun!
First I took two very excellent class with Fran Adams, who teaches garden design with the City of Palo Alto Adult Education. We learned about design principles, how to use templates, plant choice criteria, and sustainability. Every student presented a plan, which Fran critiqued.
I was planning a 100% California Natives front garden. I originally picked plants that bloom blue/lilac and buttery (not lemony) yellow. I later amended the plan plan to include some white and, noticing the buttery yellow Mimulus (monkey flower) would not bloom in fall, added some Epilobum (California fuchsia), which will be tomato red in late fall.
Here's the plan. South is up.

Imagine the house along the top edge of the plan, the doorstep in the top right corner. The empty area in the top left region is part of the back yard, there's a fence. The street runs along the bottom off the plan, along the right edge is the driveway/walkway to the front door.
The dry streambed (the little circles) was already there, though quite buried. It's about a foot deep. I've planted different succulents and some California Native bulbs along the "stream". I put some Trichelostema (Wooly blue curl), which requires excellent drainage, along the steeper bank.
The path along the house (top of picture) leads to an enclosure for our garbage and garden waste cans. We decided to move them from the side yard, where we always had to drag them up and down a step, to the front. Here's a photo standing a few feet away from the doorstep facing along the top of the plan.

Enclosure and path are in an area that's very shady and, once I turn off the irrigation completely
dry in summer. When you go hiking in such a dry, shady area, you'll notices that there's very little understory. It's a bad combination. The path is a good solution for using that space. Irrigation for a riparian or redwood habitat look is another choice, but we were tired of lugging the heavy garbage cans and the path conserves water and will be hidden from the street. A few Douglas Iris, which I can hand-water once a week or less once the irrigation is off, soften the desolate feeling.
A trellis with some Aristolochia adds some visual interest. I also used some left-over flagstone pieces to edge the decomposed granite path. I actually did the edging myself, and I'm quite please with the result.

And in my next post, we'll finally look at the plants.


wow-it really looks great, and very sensible. hope the plants don't require too much effort for you, but it does sound nice to put some living thing in that area:)
And the anticipation builds. I'm impressed that you did a real plan with circles and everything! Like your hardscape and accents.
Pam/Digging said…
Your plan is looking good. I'd love to see it again once it's all planted out.

Your garbage-bin solution is very like what I just did at the new house. We installed an attractive fence to house the bins, much closer to the street than they once were, and I had the sprinkler heads in that area capped off. I "paved" the whole area in shredded hardwood mulch and planted a few shade-loving, drought-tolerant plants, which I'll hand water as necessary, to soften the space.