We’ve been discussing all the ways you can create a wonderful space for entertaining and relaxing in your home’s outdoor space, so now it’s time to get into how to inject some magic into the broader landscaping picture.
Most homeowners do a good job overall with plant choice, basic landscaping design and creating a pleasant space for any outdoor time they manage to squeeze into their daily lives. How, though, can you to go above and beyond to a level where you, your family and guests are transported to a slightly different plane?
Arizona’s sweeping horizons and diverse geography give us a lot of help on this, but there are lots of close-up touches you can add to make our rear and front yards memorable and special to all who enter.
Plants on structures
Using outdoor structures to take your landscaping to a higher level is impressive. Look for climbing vines to wind up, around and over trellises and pergolas to add green, natural shade.
Canyon Grape, Virginia creeper, bougainvillea, honeysuckle, wisteria, rambling roses, trumpet vines and jasmine are among the best choices.
Plant walls are lovely to look at and can be used to improve drab areas, whether by attaching pots or planters to an existing wall or adding the framework for a living wall hosting nothing but plant life (and the accompanying birds and bees). For an extra-organic look you can build your pergola out of branches and twigs, but these will require more maintenance.
Every climate has its own compatible seed packets that can be scattered around your property to produce spontaneous crops of color and beauty, leavening a perfectly planned landscape with a breath of nature’s providence and spontaneity in spring and summer.
Try to avoid seed mixes with plants from other parts of the country or world, even if you think they will work in your climate. California poppies, purple coneflower, blue flax, several varieties of penstemon and goldeneyes are great for the north, while desert beauties include Mexican gold poppies, Arizona lupine and desert bluebells.
One reputable source for native seeds is Plants of the Southwest (plantsofthesouthwest.com), a New Mexico-based nursery that has an extensive catalog of regionally appropriate seeds and seed mixes.
Freeform or natural pools
Particularly effective in forested areas, freeform pools are made from concrete sprayed onto an irregularly shaped frame to create a more organic shape, which is often rimmed with manufactured rock and other features that help it blend with the landscape.
Most of these are conventional pools with pumps and chlorine. A natural pool is are usually poured the same way, but is “treated” by its water constantly moving between it and an adjacent pool of roughly the same size, which incorporates flowering plants and natural filtering material (such as shale).
Both add whimsy and romance to any space. If you have room for it, a natural pool doubles the charm.