Tag Archive for: landscape no-no

Welcome to the second edition of “AZ Plant Lady Drive By: What’s Wrong With My Landscape”.

Where you able to figure out what was wrong with the landscape, below?

wrong with the landscape

I got some great answers and they were all right, BUT only one person noticed one problem that others hadn’t.

Here are a few of the answers I received on Facebook:

“Huge needle sharp plants next to a walkway.”

“The century plants (agave) need more sun.”

“Agaves planted too close to walkway, tree planted too close to house, poor pruning of Bush between houses. Looks like the Bush was trimmed with a chain saw. The mixture of desert and green landscaping is a bit much.”

These were great comments and were correct, but there was one other problem that only one of my readers found. Here is her comment:

“Those agaves are going to cause a lot of trouble.  They will multiply and take over the tiny area they are planted in.”

1. First of all, you should not plant prickly agave near areas where people walk – like along the driveway or an entryway.  Getting pricked by an agave hurts – I have had this happen countless times to me while in the field and once or twice at home.

2. The choice of agave in this landscape is a poor one. The agave in this landscape are called Agave americana and are perhaps the most commonly found agave that I see in landscapes.

While these agave are attractive, they do have a characteristic that makes them high-maintenance – they produce lots of baby agave (also called volunteers or pups).

wrong with the landscape

These volunteers are prolific and take a lot of time to cut them out.  The agave group, above, started out as one Agave americana that then reproduced. The majority of agave pups were removed, but six still remain.

This homeowner has kept up with removing most of the volunteers – but it is hard work.

prickly agave

Removing the volunteers means getting up close to these prickly agave and it isn’t easy to remove them. You have to get your shovel down into the soil a few inches to cut off the volunteer from the parent plant.

Homeowners usually allow the volunteers to grow, which over time, creates a somewhat unattractive mass of agave.  OR they remove them and plant them elsewhere in their landscape, which just increases the problem because those replanted agave babies will start making their own babies.

Agave americana

Now, I think Agave americana are beautiful (as does the little hummingbird perched on this one).   But, I wouldn’t plant one in my garden.

So, is there a solution for homeowners like me who love how agave look, but don’t want lots of babies to take care of?

Yes!

There are many different species of agave that don’t produce volunteers, or not too many.

Here are a few of my favorites that will make a good substitution for Agave americana:

Agave bovicornuta

Cow’s Horn Agave (Agave bovicornuta) is a beautiful agave and does not produce any volunteers.

They will grow approximately 4 feet wide and tall.  Plant in an area that receives filtered sun or afternoon shade.  This agave is hardy to zone 9.

'Octopus Agave'

You can see why this agave is called ‘Octopus Agave’ (Agave vilmorniana).  It does mimic that tentacles of an octopus.

This agave will not produce volunteers either.  It does best in filtered shade or in an area that will receive afternoon shade.  Hardy to zone 9.

Weber's Agave (Agave weberi)

Weber’s Agave (Agave weberi) is my favorite large agave.  I am using several in a new landscape area that I designed alongside a golf course.

This agave grow 5 feet tall and 6 – 10 feet wide.  I does great in full sun.  It does produce the occasional volunteer, but not many.  Hardy to zone 7.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of “AZ Plant Lady Drive By”.  Thank you all for your comments.  I’ll keep my eyes and camera ready for other “landscape no-no’s” to show you.

My goal is not to poke fun at those homeowners who have made mistakes.  I want to help you to avoid making the same mistakes in your own landscape.

**IF YOU HAVE A PHOTO OF A ‘LANDSCAPE NO-NO’, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SEND IT TO ME AT arizonaplantlady(at)gmail(dot)com

AZ Plant Lady Drive By: Whatโ€™s Wrong With This Landscape?

Yesterday, in my latest “Landscape No-No” post, I asked you if you could figure out what was wrong with this landscape that I drove by earlier this summer.

What's Wrong With This Landscape? - And The Answer Is...

I had some great guesses.

Here are a few of my favorites…

“The grasses are planted too closely together.”

“There are too many similarly-shaped plants.”

AND

“The large Pine tree is too large for this landscape and planted too closely to the wall where its can fall or its roots can cause damage.”

Well, they are all great answers and are correct.  BUT, there is something else wrong with this landscape, which no one noticed.

Look closely at the two photos below…

Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')

Above, is Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’).  

It is a beautiful ornamental grass and is fine for this landscape.

BUT, notice the ornamental grass to the right with the cream-colored plumes.

Here is a closer view…

Fountain Grass

This grass is also called Fountain Grass, just without the ‘Purple’.

The problem with regular Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum), is that while attractive – it is considered an invasive plant in many areas including the southern half of the United States and Hawaii.

Native to Africa and the Middle East, it spreads easily and is overtaking areas of the desert, outcompeting the native plants and grasses.

The reason that it’s a problem here is that it was widely planted in the mid 20th century.  Unfortunately, that was before people knew it would become a problem.

In this landscape, the homeowners were probably thinking that they were planting the same type of grass as the Purple Fountain Grass (which is not invasive).

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Well, removal is necessary and requires someone with a strong back to take it out.

A great alternative to Fountain Grass that looks even better is called ‘Gulf Muhly’ or ‘Regal Mist’ (Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’).

Fountain Grass

It starts out green in spring and summer…

Fountain Grass

As fall approaches, burgundy-colored plumes begin to appear…

Fountain Grass
Fountain Grass

Once winter arrives, the plumes fade to an attractive wheat-color…

Fountain Grass

Maintenance is very easy – simply prune back to 6 inches in late winter/early spring.

**For more information on Fountain Grass, including on where it is found and how to manage it, click here.

I promise to show additional “Landscape No-No’s” and how to deal with them in the future.

In my last post, I showed you a photo of a “landscape no-no” and challenged you to guess what the problem was.

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

Were you able to guess what is wrong with this planting?

I gave a hint that the plant in the middle is ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea.

Well, I am happy to report that most of you were right about the problem.

*You see, ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea (or any bougainvillea) for that matter, is too large to be planted in such a small area.

Although this bougainvillea shrub is small now, it will soon grow very big…

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

I planted the ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea, above, in my father-in-law’s back garden. At the time I took this photo – it was less then 2 years old.

Personally, I like this variety of Bougainvillea – it has an unusual shape compared to other types of Bougainvillea and produces less litter.

But, it grows very fast and will soon outgrow a small area.  At maturity, it can reach heights of 8 feet and 4 feet wide.

So, back to the original planting in the first photo.  The problem that will soon occur is that the ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea will grow wider and overhang the pathway to the entry.

Of course, at first, the homeowner will attempt to keep the Bougainvillea pruned back – but he would be fighting a losing battle.  This shrub grows too big.

Did I also mention that this particular plant has THORNS?

You never want to put any type of plant or tree that has thorns, next to an area where people walk.  No one likes to get stuck by a thorn.

This homeowner also had another landscape problem directly across the pathway from the bougainvillea…

bush Rosemary

He has a bush Rosemary planted in a tiny area that was 3 inches wide.

As you can see, he was already busy pruning it to keep it from hanging over the pathway.

Soon, the base of the plant will become more woody with less leaves as it grows, which will make it very unattractive.

In addition, the small amount of soil, will affect the ultimate health of the rosemary as well.

**So what is the lesson learned from this “landscape no-no”?

Take a few minutes to research the plants you select before you plant them (don’t always rely on your landscaper’s advice – check for yourself).  Make sure the plants will fit that particular area once they reach their mature size.

I hope this will help you to avoid a similar mistake in the future in your garden.

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I am still patiently (not really) waiting to plant my fall vegetable garden.  We are buying compost and manure this weekend to replenish the existing soil in the gardens and I hope to have everything planted soon.

I promise to keep you updated ๐Ÿ™‚

Are you the type of person that notices what is wrong more then what is right?

Although I would describe myself as having an outlook as a “glass half-full” and tend to observe the positive – it doesn’t carry over when I look at landscapes.

I think that it is because I am supposed to find problems and help people avoid or fix them.

A few weeks ago, I shared my first “Landscape No-No” post, which showcased a common mistake people make with drip emitter placement and trees.

My hope is that by sharing some “Landscape No-No’s” that I will be able to help you avoid making the same mistakes in your garden.

This time, I am showing you a picture from a landscape consult that I did a few years ago.

This featured “Landscape No-No”  is from a consult I did years ago.  The homeowner was very excited to show me his newly landscaped front yard.

However, I did find a few problems, including this one along the pathway to his entry…

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

Can you tell what is wrong?

Hint: The plant in the middle is a ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what the problem is in the area above.

Please come back for a visit next time, when I will explain why this is a “Landscape No-No” and show you another photo of another problem with this newly landscaped garden.

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I hope you all have a great start to your week!

landscape consultation

Do you ever wonder if you are doing things right in your landscape?

If a plant or tree doesn’t look too well, do you wonder if it is something you are doing wrong?

When I am called to do a landscape consultation, my client usually has a primary concern.  But, part of my job is to also look at the landscape as a whole and point out other problems – hopefully before they affect the plant negatively.

So, I decided to start posting photos of problems I have spotted during consults in hopes that I can help you too.

Below, are two pictures of a very common landscape mistake that I see constantly.  Usually the homeowner/client has no idea that they are doing anything wrong.

Can you tell what is wrong?

landscape consultation

It isn’t always super obvious…

landscape consultation

 I’d love to hear what you think is wrong – just send me a comment, below.

I’ll post about this ‘landscape no-no’ and what problems it causes and how to correct it in my next post ๐Ÿ™‚