Need help selecting plants for a part of front yard - pics includ

sonaliagrawalMay 12, 2011

I am in SF Bay area, mid peninsula. San Carlos to be specific. Sorry this is long and has a ton of pics, hoping that will give a better idea.

I am re-doing a part of my front yard. this is parallel to the drive way, and I see it everyday walking out of my house and back into the house. I want to plant a mix of pretty plants that will have year around interest. Perennials only. Low to medium maintenance. Deer resistant. I have this area on sprinklers that go on for 15-20 mins twice a week (can be adjusted). I'd also prefer plants that are easy to find in big box stores or nurseries in my area.

What I am working with - there is already a well established plum tree, a well established rose bush, and a young avocado tree, and a fairly tall cala lily in this area. This area also slopes down from the street level to the back area. The brick retaining wall (which stays) towards the driveway is shorter in the front and taller at the back.

I picked up some spanish lavender, some russian sage, purple fountain grass, cordylline (for a corner area), argyranthemum (marguerite daisy - madeira), and lorapetalum. I could use some help and input on how this is coming along and what to change, suggestions etc.

Plants I dont want: agapanthus (ughhh .. slugs!), rock rose (have plenty of them in the garden), NZ flax (have already), maple trees.

Dividing this area into three:

  1. Towards the street:

Here is how it looks empty - at the very end is a well established plum tree. (ignore the osteospermum, its being moved)

Here I have laid out from street towards house pots of purple fountain grass, russian sage, purple fountain grass, argyranthemum. Its about 2-2.5 ft wide. I'd love to plant in the first 2/3 of the area towards driveway and leave room to trail jasmine over a grid trellis at the back.

Thoughts? I like the alternate foliage colors quite a bit, but I am not sure how this will turn out when the plants grow out fully.

  1. Middle

Next to the plum tree is a rose bush that gets white with hint of peach roses - big blooms! At the other end of this middle area is a young avocado tree and a 1x1 ft area callalilies that get about 4 ft tall.

I have laid out a pot of spanish lavender and lorapetalum here to see how it works.

Thoughts on what else to add here?

  1. Towards the house:

To the left is avocado and callalily. To the right are some retaining wall blocks that will be removed as it is not needed there.

There is also a drainage well in there which is covered by a pot and I have NO IDEA what to do in this area.

I have laid out a couple of purple fountain grasses and lavender and a cordylline red star. I plan to put some more succulents around the cordylline.

Thoughts on what else to add here?

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Just some thoughts on your plant choices... Loropetalum and Lavandula stoechas are at opposite ends of the water requirement spectrum, and Loropetalum wants to get 5 feet tall by across or more at maturity, you'll be pruning this a lot and losing the natural form to keep it in check. I never use Loropetalum chinense rubrum selections unless they have at least 6 feet of space to grow. Purple Fountain Grass is really more of a warm season annual than a reliable year round good appearance perennial in SF Bay Area conditions, and I only use it in my designs as an annual to be yanked when it starts looking bad by late December/early January. It seems to take forever to look good after winter is over, while it arrives early in the season from southern California greenhouses each spring, it may be mid June before one in the ground looks full again.

I'd suggest sticking with plants that are more water compatible if it is all on the same valve. My personal bias would be to lose the Pennisetum rubrum and substitute with more of the Lavender or maybe some Tulbaghia violaceae 'Silver Lace' for a similar grassy foliage look and long bloom season/deer resistance. Adding something like a spilling Erigeron x moerheimerii would also relate to the Lavender. If you like purple foliage, I might suggest seeking out Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' as an accent,(but this isn't a Home Depot type of plant), or maybe Sea Lavender/Limonium perezii for the long spring to fall deep purple blooms and low water needs. If you wouldn't mind adding some magenta/fuchsia flower color to the mix, Salvia chiapensis is another one that spills and drapes and has a nearly year round bloom period, or the newer hybrid Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' is quite nice as well. Some bulbs such as Scilla peruviana could also be an interesting addition to the mix, with bold color in March/April, and survives on rainfall alone.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:53PM
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bahia - thanks so much for your response. I will lose the purple grass. Any other contrasting colored/foliage that you would recommend in place of it to go along with the russian sage? Is russian sage a good option for where it is now?

Will also google your recommendations and research them more. Any other trailing/spilling varieties that you would recommend?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:05PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

If you like the Purple Fountain Grass, not necessarily a bad plant for the color and size and water needs; I just wanted to make you aware that it may be better to treat this as an annual to be replaced each spring than to think of it as a more permanent perennial. I know that many people really like the Russian Sage, but I don't use it much myself, so don't have any particular experience with it. I might recommend substituting Spike Lavender/Lavandula latifolia for this, however, similar form but a nearly ever blooming Lavender with floral presence, the Russian Sage is nice while in bloom and foliage, but typically needs cutting back to the ground each winter, so is more like a deciduous perennial than an evergreen. If you prefer the seasonal change, it's a good choice, if you prefer your plants to have presence year round, less so.

My bigger concern would probably be the Loropetalum not really being a good fit for the limited space, they do eventually get quite big.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:20PM
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I think I have found a good alternate location for my lorapetalum elsewhere (in my backyard). Thanks for all your input for it.

Spike lavender - interesting, I will definitely look this up in place of the russian sage.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:02PM
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I have several russian sage and here in the frost and cold of winter they do go dormant and loose everything.
I wait till I see green and spring and cut back to there.
It also suckers...and quite a bit but I love it.
As bahia said you may not want that bare look in the front of your house in winter.

I had a french lavender and it got to be 5 feet in diameter with hundreds of blooms year around in 3 years.
Bees love it also. Even though most won't sting it might not be something you want in front.

For trailing purple flowers you could try Lantana but it also is not frost tolerant at all.

You might look into purple wallflower erysimum which has an interesting leaf color and texture.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:54PM
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bahia - what do you think of foxtail fern for the very front part, mixed in with some spike lavender?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 12:24PM
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