12521 Westminster Avenue

The previous owners of this home built a retaining wall and planted a row of trees around the periphery of the property.  While the trees create deep shade and keep the front of the house cool, the limited sunlight did not allow for much growth, resulting in an unsightly weed and crabgrass “lawn”.  This home is a great example of how to take advantage of shade by choosing environmentally appropriate plantings.

The hard ground had not been tilled or fertilized in years.  Bad for planting – great for the pink Arizona flagstone selected by the current homeowners!  All that was needed was a layer of sand and several inches of space between the stones to provide a water-permeable surface that requires little maintenance.  The space between the stones was filled with rich soil, ornamental gravel, and seeds of various low-light ground covers.  The contrast between the pink stones and the green ground covers gives color, life and complexity to an area that initially seemed unworkable.  The flagstone was the main expense, with accents of potted plants.

The garden has become a friendly hangout for neighborhood cats, who congregate on the cool flagstone on hot days.  The homeowners love watching their own cats mingling with feline visitors, each one sprawled  on their own individual flagstone pad.

Watering is minimal.  Spot watering by hand once or twice a week is all that is needed.  Because the homeowner can efficiently target micro-environments, nothing is over watered and there is no runoff.