Master Gardener: Sustainable landscaping for California’s Mediterranean climate | Features

Design adds to the drama: Planted areas don’t have to be large to create a dramatic effect. Start with the shape of the lawn and flower beds. Most of us have square or rectangular backyards with a concrete square patio and a cedar fence as a backdrop. Choose the best location for trees, shrubs, lawns, and flower beds, and make sure you create a focal point where the eye naturally wanders. Keep the lawn area small and design it away from the fence to avoid puddles of water on posts. Enlarge the flower beds to accommodate a variety of shrubs and perennials that use less summer water and increase the depth of view. Now give each planted area at least one gentle curve. When the lawn hits the concrete, keep that line straight and move the curve to another side. Make the front of the flower beds curved and let their backs follow the fence line.

Plant selection: Choose drought tolerant plants that look great in groups. Their shapes and colors can vary, but tie them together with mixed plants in neutral colors like silver and gray. Foliage color, texture, and general plant shape can be more important than flower color. Planting in groups at appropriate intervals creates waves of color and interest with less garden maintenance. Before you buy, create mini vignettes of your plants in the nursery, discuss your ideas or take a look at the magazines and books that are full of ideas.

Gardeners who plan outdoor living spaces with our Mediterranean climate in mind, and then choose plants that are adapted to our surroundings, can have a beautiful garden with less work. The use of regionally suitable gardening techniques saves time, energy and resources and reduces air and water pollution from garden chemicals and strength equipment. It’s time to move on to sustainable landscaping.

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