Front Yard Tour

I have not yet shared images or stories of our front yard and that's possibly because there just isn't much space to plant. We've created two relatively small sections with the goal of establishing a garden that requires very little water and almost no maintenance. Of course we still want the gardens to be beautiful, deer resistant, provide fodder for the pollinators, and survive any frosts! Did I forget anything?

The first bed is along our driveway and weighs in at roughly 3' - 4' wide by 15' long which is admittedly small but sometimes that can be a good thing as it forces creativity.

Front Garden Strip September 2018

In the front I'm sure you'll recognize what seems like an emerging garden standard these days - Agave desmettiana. If you like the way it looks in our garden - how about getting one for your garden?

Front Garden Strip November 2018

 The light on this morning took an unusual orange/red hue because of the "Camp Fire" burning near Chico Ca. Also - notice how the sedum ground cover looks a bit flat? That's because it has been munched flat by a pack of unruly deer.

Agave chiapensis happy in a pot.
The fence was built from a deck which used to reside in my backyard. I 'ripped' much the 2x6 redwood lumber to a smaller size and thickness to avoid the fence feeling too massive. The variegated Agave attenuata was a gift from a gardener friend here in town. It's nice to have friends with offsets.

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Aloe camperi "Popcorn Aloe"
All the plants above look almost tropical (in my opinion) which is part of why they are some of my favorites.

Aloe striata "Coral Aloe"

I've planted several Coral Aloes around my yard. The pink edge along the minty green, husky size leaves is a nice combo.

Aloe 'Hercules'

Aloe 'Hercules is described "Very few succulents can attain the massive width or height of this grandiose species. Aloe 'Hercules' is dramatic, fast growing tree Aloe hybrid that can reach 20 - 30 feet in it's native South Africa. It is a hybrid of two other tree aloes: Aloe barberae and Aloe dichotoma. The plant exhibits hybrid vigor, growing faster than it's parent plants."

Aloe elegans
You can tell this is a dry bit of ground - in fact we are almost at the end of 7 months without rain and I seldom drag out the hose and water this garden. This Aloe looks to be having a rough time but it still decided to give 110% and bloom.

Agave lopantha
I have so many 'Quadracolor' lopantha and only one the above plain green version. I've come to like the look of this variety more.

The second bed is about 6 months old, roughly 15' long and pie shaped. It sits at the front of our house facing east. I mainly began planting here because the front of our house is something less than attractive (I didn't want to say 'ugly'). Below are a few of my favorites.

Agave attenuata "Red Margin"
I bought several of the above "Red Margin" from Serra Gardens in Fallbrook, Ca almost 2 yrs ago.

Agave bovicornuta
The plants in this bed are kind of a hodge podge created from what I had available - which was too much.

Some Aloe hybrid (?) - not sure.

A young Aloe marlothii

Agave celsii

Agave patonii 'Alba Marginata'

A young Aloe aculeata

Aloe cryptopoda
I also bought several of these from Serra Gardens. For some reason this one likes to create lots of offsets. The others have not created a single offset.

Aloe cameroni with a newly emerged bloom

Agave vilmoriniana "Stained Glass"

Along the front of our property is largish hillside which currently is composed of junipers, weeds and grass. The grass turns brown toward the end of May and must to be cut back each year before the dry season. I'm convinced that with a bit of labor, some smart design, retaining walls and lots of plants this can become a spectacular hillside garden. What do you think? It takes some imagination I know.

View from end of our driveway

All of these junipers will be removed and replaced with a low berm for more agaves, aloes and cacti! The pile of dirt on the left marks where I removed some junipers this weekend.

Slope of hill - top view
 So much smoke! If it wasn't for the "Camp Fire" burning you'd see a view of the southern SF Peninsula. The hill itself is generally facing East but because we are on a small ridge it still seems to get lots of sun - just not the really hot late afternoon sun.

Slope of hill - bottom view
 Lots of potential right?


  1. Lots of potential! I could become overwhelmed. Every plant you showed is gorgeous and I love the fence design. I do wish for a pulled back "overall" shot though, even if your house is aesthetically challenged.

    1. Thanks!. yes - I do need a 'overall' shot for the front of the house. It was difficult to get a good one as the two planting area's are separated by a large driveway.

  2. I think you've done will with the small spaces in front of the house, Hans, and I know I'd be chomping at the bit to do something with that massive hillside, daunting as the task is. Terracing is the way to go I think. That said, I've been staring at my own steep back slope (not as big as yours from the looks of it) almost since we moved in nearly 8 years ago and I've yet to do much with it. I need a DIY approach as access to the area with heavy equipment is virtually impossible. As the area is largely out of sight by all but the most intrepid visitors, it's never risen to the top of my "to do" list but still all that space to garden in sends a siren call.

    1. Kris - that's exactly it - space (I'm out of it unless I use this hillside). I imagine a series of switchbacks from the sidewalk to our shared road at top of the hill. Not sure yet about the retaining wall technique - possibly gabion baskets, a modified crevice garden or just landscape boulders.


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