Most of the time when you walk through a parking lot, you are often greeted by the appearance of islands scattered throughout overplanted with badly maintained shrubs.

Last month, I drove into a parking lot that was quite unusual in that it was planted with attractive succulents and not ugly shrubs.



Instead of shrubs, the medians were planted with beautiful agave specimens.


In addition to different types of agave, were gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida) succulents, which added a welcome respite to the crowded and over-pruned shrubs that usually characterize most parking lots.


In addition to the agave and other succulents were  flowering shrubs such as Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica), which was allowed to grow into its natural shape.


This parking lot was located in front of a hospital where my husband had an appointment for a routine procedure.  Our walk through the parking lot took twice as long as it would normally take with me pausing every few seconds to take pictures of the plants.


It was so refreshing to see succulents such as these  in parking lot islands instead of struggling shrubs.  They thrive in the hot, reflected heat while needing very little water.

Maybe we should rethink what we plant in parking lot islands and ditch the high-maintenance, thirsty shrubs?
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

5 replies
  1. Aaron Dalton
    Aaron Dalton says:

    I agree. The succulents look great!

    One question — I notice on your blog that there's often a lot of empty space between shrubs and/or succulents.

    I understand the problems with overcrowding (requiring frequent pruning/butchering), but I wonder if there are any groundcover options to tie larger plants together? Or do those plants simply not exist in Phoenix?

    Reply
  2. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hi Aaron,

    Great question! There are several groundcovers, which people use to tie planting groups together – lantana is a huge favorite. With succulents, the idea is to allow their unique beauty and texture to stand alone where they can be better appreciated.

    I hope that your TN garden is faring well this winter!

    Best,
    Noelle

    Reply
  3. RobinL
    RobinL says:

    Even though my climate is completely different than yours, I always admire when public spaces are landscaped in a pleasing way, especially if they are unique. There are so many boring public spaces at fast food restaurants and gas stations, but once in awhile you see something amazing. I generally try to send a complimentary email in that situation.

    Reply

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