Thinking about a drastic overhaul for the front yard


DrMike27

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Looking for some feedback on my front yard/weed solution.

Both my front and back yards have been absolutely ravaged by weeds this summer (Monsoon season finally produced rain for us in Phoenix). The back yard has responded well to weed pulling and burning, but the front has not (picture below is from today). I have rock on top of Casa Grande Series soil and my front yard is on a downward slope to the street.

Here is my way-too-grandiose idea to try and permanently get rid of all my weeds (at least in the front yard): I want to take all of the rock off, pull any weeds that remain, use preen all over the yard, cover the preen/yard with landscaping fabric, and then put the rock all back on top of that.

Thoughts?

1630696358020.jpeg
 
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What you suggest is done all the time by landscape installers, so you can certainly follow that route, though usually the landscapers stick at least a few obligatory plants among the rocks...

However, as an alternative idea may I suggest a carpet of drought-tolerant low-growing shrubs and similar plants that would cover most of the ground, allowing space for far fewer weeds. Of course there will always be some weeds that may need to be removed. That is true even with the plastic underneath. Some weeds have an amazing way of growing around or even through any barrier. If you want you can choose the prettiest "weeds" by scattering native wildflower seed.

A few such plants that come to mind would be Desert Carpet Wattle (Acacia redolens), low-growing saltbushes (Atriplex spp.), Iceplants (Carpobrotus spp.). These are a few low-maintenance options, but there are many others. Maybe some taller plants too? How about an exceptional clone of your state tree: Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia x 'Desert Museum'), which has more flowers and no thorns.
You wouldn't have to plant anything spiny if didn't want to, though cacti and Agave are spectacularly beautiful plants.

Of course, having no plants does mean no need for irrigation, and that is admittedly an ecologically sound argument for our arid West. However, gardening with native plants and other drought-tolerant plants can also lead to little or no irrigation, after an initial establishment phase.

Personally, I think your collection of low-growing pillowy green 'weeds' is attractive, at least more so than a moonscape of plantless rocks, ...but I realize mine may be a minority opinion among those who dictate curbside appeal.
 
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Here is my way-too-grandiose idea to try and permanently get rid of all my weeds (at least in the front yard): I want to take all of the rock off, pull any weeds that remain, use preen all over the yard, cover the preen/yard with landscaping fabric, and then put the rock all back on top of that.

A good idea but weeds will eventually grow back no matter what you do to try and stop them. I have the same problem on my gravel drive. I agree with Marck.....
However, as an alternative idea may I suggest a carpet of drought-tolerant low-growing shrubs and similar plants that would cover most of the ground, allowing space for far fewer weeds. Of course there will always be some weeds that may need to be removed. That is true even with the plastic underneath. Some weeds have an amazing way of growing around or even through any barrier. If you want you can choose the prettiest "weeds" by scattering native wildflower seed.
 

DrMike27

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What you suggest is done all the time by landscape installers, so you can certainly follow that route, though usually the landscapers stick at least a few obligatory plants among the rocks...

However, as an alternative idea may I suggest a carpet of drought-tolerant low-growing shrubs and similar plants that would cover most of the ground, allowing space for far fewer weeds. Of course there will always be some weeds that may need to be removed. That is true even with the plastic underneath. Some weeds have an amazing way of growing around or even through any barrier. If you want you can choose the prettiest "weeds" by scattering native wildflower seed.

A few such plants that come to mind would be Desert Carpet Wattle (Acacia redolens), low-growing saltbushes (Atriplex spp.), Iceplants (Carpobrotus spp.). These are a few low-maintenance options, but there are many others. Maybe some taller plants too? How about an exceptional clone of your state tree: Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia x 'Desert Museum'), which has more flowers and no thorns.
You wouldn't have to plant anything spiny if didn't want to, though cacti and Agave are spectacularly beautiful plants.

Of course, having no plants does mean no need for irrigation, and that is admittedly an ecologically sound argument for our arid West. However, gardening with native plants and other drought-tolerant plants can also lead to little or no irrigation, after an initial establishment phase.

Personally, I think your collection of low-growing pillowy green 'weeds' is attractive, at least more so than a moonscape of plantless rocks, ...but I realize mine may be a minority opinion among those who dictate curbside appeal.
I’m keeping the palm tree, and I have plans to transplant one of my pomegranates to the front yard when she outgrows her container. There is also a sizable trumpet vine/bush just to the left off screen. I agree with your sentiment though that I don’t want to have a bare landscape.

My issue with the shrubs is that they would really look out of place because no one on my street has anything like that. I have tried the wild flowers, and they really struggled without me watering them daily. another thing I didn’t mention is that there is a power line that runs underground between my house and my neighbor’s house, so I can’t plant anything to the right of the palm tree.
 
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I understand. there all sorts of social and environmental factors that come into play when designing a garden or landscape.

It sounds like you are thinking of a Mediterranean-styled Garden. Date palms, pomegranate, roses, etc. Low-growing rosemary and some sages, could be good groundcovers for this style of garden.
 

DrMike27

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I understand. there all sorts of social and environmental factors that come into play when designing a garden or landscape.

It sounds like you are thinking of a Mediterranean-styled Garden. Date palms, pomegranate, roses, etc. Low-growing rosemary and some sages, could be good groundcovers for this style of garden.
I have never put a name to it, but looking up Mediterranean landscapes is pretty much exactly what I would love to have (minus the water ponds/fountains/streams I see many people have). My wife would totally get behind having fragrant herbs around. Thanks for all the great ideas. I feel like I have somewhat of an actual direction now.
 
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Don't pull/kill your weeds till you have something to grow in it's spot, even then plant among them unless it becomes an issue of space, as the it will helps with soil life, moisture retention and will help other plants establish with less outside inputs, you see weeds, I see life neatness is horrible for health. If you plant enough of the 'right' things they'll become the weeds eventually.
 
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