beautiful desert garden wall
marley horticulture learning lab

Repurposing Masonry Blocks for an Eco-Friendly Garden Wall

I am always on the lookout for new and different garden design discoveries. Using interesting materials can make a huge difference. Recently, I was teaching a class at the Desert Botanical Garden. As I headed toward the classroom, I admired the modern design of the building. It was the vine-covered wall that caught my interest.

beautiful desert garden wall

A brilliant person created this unusual wall from broken masonry blocks. Like many other garden walls in the desert Southwest, this one is different. The broken blocks came from a wall that had been removed elsewhere. Instead of letting the blocks end up in a landfill, the person realized that they could be used to build a beautiful and functional garden wall.

Queen’s Wreath Vines and the Play of Shadows

creative desert garden wall

The salvaged wall provides the perfect surface for queen’s wreath (Antigonon leptopus) vines. They crawl up on with their twining tendrils taking advantage of the nooks and crannies within the wall.

hidden desert garden wall

Harnessing the Beauty of Garden Shadows

The sprays of flowers, leaves, and stems create beautiful shadows along the pavement below. Shadows are an element of garden design. Do not underestimate the effect that the shapes of the shadows from cactuses, succulents, and even vines can add to a bare wall, fence, or even on the ground.

beautiful flowers

Years ago, I used to carry a small digital camera in my purse. All for the unexpected opportunity to take pictures of a particular plant, or design idea. Nowadays, this is just another reason that my smartphone is perhaps my most valued tool.

Book Review: Desert Landscaping and Maintenance

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, 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. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    What an interesting wall idea. At first I thought it was mortar squishing out from between whole blocks, but after a second look I realized they were salvaged blocks that were broken. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Marie Barassi
    Marie Barassi says:

    I love the idea of salvaging old materials, what a great idea! And I love the use of this vine in it! Have you grown this vine? I have two I planted several years ago from tiny starts I mail ordered, but they have never bloomed. I live in zone 9b, so they should,they look healthy, one climbs up the bottle brush tree and one scrambles up a baby jacaranda tree, I cut them back hard last winter to encourage new growth, which worked, still, no flowers ): any suggestions?!
    Thank you for your posts, they always inspire me.

  3. says:

    Hi Marie,

    I have grown this vine and seen it growing in lots of areas. It does best in full sun and periodic deep watering. I would recommend adding a liquid fertilizer at 1/2 strength and see if that works. I hope this helps!

  4. Sandy Smith
    Sandy Smith says:

    Hi Noelle,
    I also like the gravel/rocks next to the walk in the 2nd picture which indicate good drainage (so important 🙂 Love your observant eyes.

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