Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Imaginary Landscape Design

Sometimes after you exceed a certain amount of time spent on a project that wasn't altogether practical, you kind of have to post it on LiveJournal, even if it wasn't really intended for LiveJournal at all, just to try to convince yourself that at least you got something out of it. For this reason, I wish to present to you my landscape design for a future house that I don't yet own. This was an impractical thing to have spent time on because I have, of course, no way of knowing yet what the yard of my specific future house will actually provide me with, in terms of size, shape, direction of the sun, drainage problems, pre-existing landscaping, architecture of the house, and so on. However, I can make a pretty good guess that my future yard will be:
  • rather flat, because all yards for miles around are
  • full of clay dirt, for the same reason
  • somewhere around 0.17 or 0.18 acres, with somewhere around a 950-1100 square foot house on it, because I'm going to try to find the biggest lot and approximately smallest house I can in my neighborhood, and that's the biggest lot size and smallest house size that I have a realistic chance of finding around here
  • subject to the typical climate of Sacramento's eastern suburbs
  • subject to me being a lazy and inconsistent gardener who doesn't do much to maintain the landscaping after installing it
So with those things in mind, I attempted to design a landscape plan.

The brown paths will almost certainly not be actual dirt paths the way the appear to be here; I just made them visible to remind myself of which areas need to have plants that can be walked on, so that I wouldn't put any other kinds of plants there and block the way. The paths will probably really be grass or a meadow-style blend of the other groundcovers nearby.

The important accomplishments here are:
  • All the plants are drought-tolerant after they're established. As long as I water them enough to keep them alive for the first year or two, they should be fine with never or almost never being watered again.
  • The vast majority of the plants are native to California. All the non-native plants are ones I've researched to make sure they're not invasive.
  • Except for the California golden poppies (which can sometimes be biennial or perennial, but are more often annual), all the plants are perennial. This means not much cleaning up of dead plants.
  • The yard is full of edible fruits: strawberries, cherries, grapes, serviceberries, currants, rose hips, pomegranates, passionfruit, elderberries . . . It doesn't have any vegetables, though, because I don't eat vegetables.
  • Many of the smaller plants bloom for much of the year, and most of them are evergreen. To the best of my knowledge, none of these plants cause contact dermatitis, a horrible stench, or any other major annoyances. The only one with thorns is the pine rose, and it seems to be the least thorny of the California native roses.
  • The shrubbery around the left portion of the front yard creates a sitting area that is not visible from the street.
  • All the plants between the front door and the street are short enough not to block the view of the front door.
  • Plants toward the street end of the driveway are short enough to avoid creating a blind corner.
  • Foundation plantings in the front and back yards create some insulation without being tall enough to block the windows.
  • The trees are all far enough away from the house to avoid rubbing against the roof or (I think) destroying the foundation. (The redbud on the left edge of the back yard looks as if it's a little close to the house, but I'm considering that projecting bit of roof there to be a patio roof, so I don't think it's too big a deal.)
  • The trees and shrubs around the edges of the back yard should create quite a lot of privacy, and the shade trees in the middle should lower the temperature quite a lot.
  • Desert plants are grouped around the desert willow because they share the same water needs and depend on the same mycorrhiza (microorganisms in the soil).
  • The other plants are almost all from the Foothill Woodland, Yellow Pine Forest, and Chaparral plant communities, all of which exist in Sacramento County, though the area where I live and expect to continue living is in the Foothill Woodland plant community.
One thing that I didn't manage to accomplish was to find an apple tree or other fruit tree I could grow. I noticed that some websites refer to some apple trees as being drought-tolerant, but I think they're only rather marginally so, though, because they aren't listed that way very often. I would go ahead and try to grow one of those, but unfortunately every time I think I've settled on an apple tree that I could avoid killing, I discover that this apple tree produces hardly any fruit and that what little fruit it does produce is tiny and mostly seeds. If apple trees are not viable, I'd be happy with an orange tree or almost any other kind of fruit tree, but I can't find any of those that I'm confident in my ability to grow either.

Here is my list of the plants' scientific names, for anyone who cares. (Plants marked * in the list below are native to Sacramento County. Plants marked + are native to California, and plants marked - are not native to California.)

+ big-cone douglas fir = Pseudotsuga macrocarpa
+ Catalina cherry = Prunus lyonii
+ desert willow = Chilopsis linearis
* elderberry = Sambucus mexicana
+ flowering ash = Fraxinus dipetala
* incense cedar = Calocedrus decurrens
+ maple = Acer glabrum
* redbud = Cercis occidentalis
- smooth cypress = Cupressus glabra
+ Western juniper = Juniperus occidentalis
* yew = Taxus brevifolia

Tall Plants
- bubble gum sage = Leucophyllum pruinosum
+ bush anemone = Carpenteria californica
+ bush poppy = Dendromecon harfordii
+ Concha lilac = Ceanothus 'Concha'
* Coville's serviceberry = Amelanchier utahensis covillei
- flowering maple = Abutilon 'Silver Belle'
*/+ larkspur = Delphinium variegatum (purple)/Delphinium cardinale (red)
+ mahogany = Cercocarpus alnifolius
- Mood Indigo hibiscus = Alyogyne huegelii 'Mood Indigo'
+ ninebark = Physocarpus capitatus
+ rye = Elymus condensatus
+ silk tassel = Garrya veatchii
* toyon = Heteromeles arbutifolia
- witch hazel = Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold's Promise'
+ yerba santa = Eriodictyon crassifolium

Shorter Plants
+ Anchor Bay lilac = Ceanothus gloriosus 'Anchor Bay'
*/+ beardtongue = Penstemon heterophyllus (smaller)/Penstemon spectabilis (larger)
+ blue curls = Trichostema parishii (wider)/Trichostema lanatum (narrower)
+ blue fescue = Festuca 'Siskiyou Blue'
+ boxwood = Paxistima myrsinites
* bracken fern = Pteridium aquilinum
* buckwheat = Eriogonum fasciculatum
* butterfly mint = Monardella antonina       
- cape mallow = Anisodontea x hypomandarum
- cast-iron plant = Aspidistra elatior 'Variegata'
- cenizo = Leucophyllum frutescens 'Bertstar Dwarf'
* coffee fern = Pellaea andromedifolia
+ coral bells = Heuchera maxima
* creeping sage = Salvia sonomensis
- cycad = Encephalartos cycadifolius
* deer grass = Muhlenbergia rigens
+ desert mallow = Sphaeralcea ambigua
+ evergreen currant = Ribes viburnifolium
- featherflower = Verticordia plumosa
* field sedge = Carex praegracilis
+ figwort = Scrophularia atrata
+ fuchsia = Epilobium canum garrettii 'Orange Carpet'
+ Humboldt lily = Lilium humboldtii
+ Indian mallow = Abutilon palmeri
+ Joyce Coulter lilac = Ceanothus 'Joyce Coulter'
+ juniper = Juniperus communis 'Compressa'
- lavender = Lavandula 'Goodwin Creek Grey'
*/+ lupine = Lupinus albifrons (larger)/Lupinus ludovicianus (smaller)
*/+ monkey flower = Diplacus aurantiacus (orange)/Diplacus rutilus (red)
* nodding harebell = Campanula prenanthoides
* paintbrush = Castilleja foliolosa
+ pine rose = Rosa pinetorum
- pomegranate = Punica granatum 'Nana'
* poppies = Eschscholzia californica
- speedwell = Veronica pectinata
+ strawberries = Fragaria californica
- twintip = Stemodia tomentosa
+ vanilla grass = Hierochloe occidentalis
+ vervain = Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina'
+ wood fern = Dryopteris arguta

* clematis = Clematis lasiantha
* grapes = Vitis californica 'Roger's Red'
- passionflower = Passiflora 'Allspice'
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