Rock Gardens

Coastal Rock Garden

Although this garden style title emphasizes rock gardens along coastal areas, these dramatic landscape statements can be incorporated into most garden styles, including slopes (see Slope Rock Gardens below). Many Southern California areas have native boulders in the areas surrounding the home sites or on the property itself. The Coastal Rock Garden is best used if you wish to have your landscape reflects the natural look of the area surrounding your home. Whether you live in a patio home or an estate, there is a place for a relaxing rock garden in your life. The rocks may be small and flat, or large angular specimens of various shapes, textures, and colors. Rock gardens incorporate a variety of low-growing, flowering shrubs and herbaceous perennials that become a secondary focal point for any garden. Artificial rock is also an excellent alternative, especially if a stream with cascading waterfalls is planned. Or, add a dry stream with rocks or decorative gravel meandering through the rock garden.

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Rock Garden Elements: The best choice for a rock garden style is an informal, flowing landscape theme. However, rock gardens may be formalized, especially when used as retaining walls, garden walls, or at the bottom of slopes. The main elements are properly placed rocks/boulders featuring elevations changes, however slight. Depending on the scale of your yard, the correct rocks/boulders are must be selected. Not to big, not too small. Natural looking, like you built the home around them.

Rock Garden Plants: The best  rock gardens feature small, low-growing plants in groupings such as Creeping Thyme, Sea Pink, Dwarf Mondo Grass, Alyssum, Snow-In-Summer, Blue-Eyed Grass, and Floral Carpet Roses with herbaceous plants such as Iris, Dianthus, and seasonal bulbs.

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Fantasy Rock Gardens

Fantasy ornaments give your garden a “fairy tale theme”. Examples are miniature statues, castles, paths, caves, and bonsai trees with cascading water. The fantasy features must be the same scale, including the plants. Think of Walt’s miniature gardens at Disneyland®. There is no reason why your yard can’t look like a scaled-down version of the Magic Kingdom®.

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Slope Rock Gardens

A rock garden on a slope looks beautiful, in both the front and back yards. The rock garden combines color, texture, and slope stabilization. The best slope rock gardens occur on the bottom third of the slope with groupings of exposed rock in groupings on the upper slope. Maintaining low shrub masses affords slope stabilization and “shows off” the rocks.

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My Garden

Patio Garden: Small Space Oasis

Patio Garden: Small Space Oasis

Many California homes have small space gardens in the front and back yards. Whether you live in a condominium, patio home, or a high density housing project—large home on a small lot—your goal is to make the most of your premium space. Whether it’s a simple wall fountain with lush, flowering plants, or a unique pool and spa with waterfall, your landscape plan must use the limited space properly, or your garden experience will not be a positive one. Whether you select a formal or an informal Patio Garden theme, the repetition of plants, hardscape elements, colors, and the balance of bold, bright features with fine, muted features must be consistent. Directing the viewer’s eye to a focal point, while making gradual changes in the height and color of the plant material, promotes visual depth to a cozy patio environment. Softening walls and structures with vines and espaliers makes the garden feel spacious. Outdoor social areas—gathering places—such as patio tables, benches, fire pits, and fireplaces with seating all add elevation changes. These elements are to be complimented with fragrant plants, various leaf textures, and garden sounds such as falling water.

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Patio Garden Elements:

Staying in scale with the space afforded is critical to the success of the Patio Garden. Install wall fountains / statues / sculptures / bird baths / urns with running water / fountains with fire and water / patio deck materials that compliment the inside flooring of the home / outdoor kitchen in scale with the yard / walkways that “disappear” behind foundation shrubs, giving the illusion of depth / seating and benches that add elevation change / containers of various sizes placed in groupings.

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Patio Garden Plants:

The plant selection must be trees, shrubs and groundcovers that stay in scale, that is, do not grow too large. Successful plant choices include small foreground plants such as Sea Thrift, Dianthus, and Blue-Eyed Grass. Dwarf foundation plants such as Dwarf Daylilies, Salvia ‘Santa Barbara’, and Dwarf Kangaroo Paws add texture and color. Annual color is used as part of a focal point, an entry, or in containers. Perhaps a fruit-bearing Dwarf Citrus espalier against a wall, or dwarf flowering tree in container, suits your lifestyle. A side yard with appropriate sun exposure may be the perfect spot for a raised vegetable garden. Another consideration is mounded areas with succulent and rock garden plants. Mounds give a feeling of depth. Think of Disneyland®, where Walt placed a gigantic mound, or berm, around the entire park to make visitors feel they were surrounded by lush vegetation.

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My Garden

My Garden Blog

My first twenty-one posts will feature the 21 Garden Styles.

Although several landscape ideas might appeal to you, your favorite garden will be easy to identify based on your personal energy—likes and dislikes—your home’s location and architecture, and your lifestyle. From experience, I know you will select the right garden for your home and your family when you see it, read the descriptions, and visualize your new exterior living space.

By selecting a garden style you truly like, the landscape design process begins with positive energy. You and I now have a starting point that will grow into the quintessential garden of your dreams—a beautiful and tranquil outdoor environment.

Wayne