Help me choose what to plant here (no more cactus)

ldramey01November 7, 2012

This raised planter bed gets almost full sun throughout the day and is not irrigated. It gets morning sun and all through the midday until the sun begins to set on the other side of the house, providing some shade. Obviously the cactus is doing well but my goal is to plant something that would thrive here that is not cactus or thorny/spiky. I have a curious two year old that loves to play around this area and would like to make it more lush and kid friendly. Naturally I'll have to hand water whatever goes in but would like a drought tolerant plant, any advice is appreciated.


Leslie in Chandler

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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Dichondra grass would be pretty. You could put in some stone/rocks and have the grass grow around them. Maybe interplant some herbs. An idea just off the top. The grass would need water though. Is a water source nearby?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 7:09PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

I like what you've got. Would you consider adding some non-thorny/spiky aloes, maybe some ladyslipper succulents toward the back for height and/or some ornamental grasses? Just a suggestion, because if there's no way to put the bed on a drip, you will give up on hand-watering about June, July for sure, trust me. If you have a nearby faucet, you should be able to put a drip line on a timer.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:15PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Plant flowers and bulbs......the ideas are endless but just about whatever you plant will need water.

Low water groundcovers:
bush morning glory
red spike ice plant
trailing acacia
blue euphorbia
trailing lantana
trailing dalea
trailing gazania
trailing rosemary
prairie zinnia

chocolate flower
angelita daisy
mexican hat

Endless.....Source: Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert - available free at many nurseries around town

Here is a link that might be useful: Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:36AM
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Wow, thanks for all the suggestions. I'm going to research each plant and come up with a plan. As for the water source, the closest spigot is in our garage and if I ran it from there a door will not close and it would be above ground, pretty unsightly. However I have a large planter nearby that is connected to a drip, I can bring that to the bed but it would be above ground as well. I know what you mean by giving up in the summertime as I do all our yard maint. and it's brutal in those months, however I just put the watering schedule on my calendar and suck it up!

Thanks for all your help, I come here first before going to the nurseries, this forum has saved me a lot of money and unnecessary effort :)

It might be a while but I will post a photo when done.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Maybe some kind of butterfly bush. What fun for a 2 year old!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:10AM
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How about some sensory plants like Superstition Mallow (Abutilon palmeri)? It has velvet soft leaves and attractive orange sherbert colored flowers.

You could also start an "ABC" garden. Pick flowers or herbs that match a letter of the alphabet and have a large painted letter nearby to help your child identify it. For example: A = aster, B = butterfly weed. Experience textures by planting Lamb's Ear, a wooly herb. Use highly scented herbs like Mints for M for a different experience.

Later you can consider a "Dinosaur Garden", an area that would attract those creatures if they lived today. Small palms, asparagus ferns, junipers, pine and other greenery that predate flowering plants are perfect. Imagine a world without flowers! For the dinosaurs there was just an endless world of various shades of green. Flowering plants were just coming into the world during the dinosaurs last days. Adding large models of dinosaurs nearby can give your child a feel for dinosaur time and what their world looked like then.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:11AM
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Thanks so much for all the input and the creativity is impressive too! I've decided I must get water there and I will be using it for an herb garden. I had another place dedicated for herbs but this is right off the kitchen, would be a better location, so convenient too! Thanks everyone, much appreciated!

Digging on the ABC idea too aztreelvr!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 3:17PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Is your spigot on the outside wall near the planter? If so, you could always run a pipe through to the outside for your planter. Just a hint: You're going to need some shade if you plan an herb garden there; otherwise they will crisp up and die in the summer heat. The reflected heat from that wall will make it even more brutal.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:51PM
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tomatofreak, nope it is on the inside wall of our garage which is not very close either. I can't run anything exposed from there because it will be a big tripping hazard as that area is where everyone enters the patio off the kitchen. My garage and house is sort of a horseshoe shape surrounding the patio, garage is on one end and the bed is on the other, if that makes sense. Terrible planning on the builder's part, I'm constantly pulling hoses from one side to the other. Thanks for the tip on the herb garden :)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:05AM
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Tomatofreak- Good catch on the herb garden the summer would be absolutly brutal on them.
As for the watering issue- I have the same kind of problem in one area--Buy a short soaker hose and bury slightly(sun rot) it among your new plants leaving the connection end exposed toward the garage direction or ? Then when know ones around hook up a hose and soak

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:59AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Builders are notoriously poor at planning usefulness for real life, I think. In your situation, it might be worth it to run an underground pipe from the closest outdoor spigot to this area. It's pretty easy to do and you don't need a pricey plumber to do it, just someone with handyman skills.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

A couple of thoughts - remember, the piping can be run above, too - and then come down one of those pillars. Can be painted white unless you want to plant a vine to cover it >smileThere are some flowers that need very little extra irrigation. The two that come to mind are Perky Sue (Hymenoxys argentea) and Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata and a few of the Penstemons. Certainly not as fun as tree lover's ideas, but they can take a LOT of sun, if you that's what you get in that area.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 6:40PM
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