This week I tackled a different kind of project; I drew plans to update a backyard in Las Vegas! The backyard is for a friend of my brother’s. She has a 14′ x 55′ rectangular backyard in the lower desert region of Las Vegas.
I live in Philadelphia, where the backyards are also small but with a much different plant palette, so this was a fun project to tackle where I researched a little more about xeriscaping (gardens required no or minimal water) and desert plant species.
I made plans and renderings to show what this could be and sent it off. I am looking forward to seeing how it comes together!
“A basic cool thing for a Vegas backyard with not really many plants. Just some concrete, fake grass, and maybe and awning”
That was my direction, which was actually the perfect amount of detail while still letting me think of some creative ways to organize space. The budget was $2,000 and they were not looking for too much DIY. With a long narrow space, I decided to break it up into 3 zones; planting, patio, and lawn.
The planting zone is mulched with gravel and planted with low maintenance perennials and succulents that can thrive in the heat without much water. They are spaced further apart so each plant acts as its own feature within the landscape.
I chose one plant, the Century Plant, to act as a sculptural focal point. These plants can get massive, living for 100 years and concluding their lives with one enormous bloom as a final grandiose gesture. Scattered around the Century Plants are Angelita Daisies which produce small yellow flowers and cluster in short mounds.
On the opposite side of the garden I placed three large planters holding Blue Glow Agave. These planters hide an AC Condenser unit and provide a small space to informally hide storage.
The existing patio remains in place, but I’ve almost doubled the amount of concrete by adding a few additional pads. Between the pads of concrete are strips of gravel, approximately 6″ apart to help visually integrate the existing gravel bed, reduce concrete square footage, and allow for quicker water infiltration. It also helps to define little spaces within the pad. Its divided and organized into a “grill area”, “dining area”, and “lounge area”.
Finally, the largest zone is the artificial turf lawn area. The lawn is bordered with the existing gravel and takes up the most space. The owner has a small dog that would love to play around in grass and this is the perfect low maintenance solution to achieve that goal.
Century Plant is a large evergreen perennial plant forming large spreading mounds. I’m using this plant as a central focal point, grouping it in a set of three within the larger planting bed. Since the homeowner doesn’t want many plants, this will take up a lot of space and keep maintenance low.
Around the Century Plant, we put Angelita Daisy which forms short dense mounts of bright yellow flowers throughout the year. This will give the yard a pop of color throughout the seasons.
Aloe Vera lines the exterior fence, which would painted charcoal. The blueish green leaves on the Aloe Plant provide a cool contrast against the dark backdrop. These plants bloom with a beautiful yellow flower in the summer months.
The Blue Glow Agave fills the large planters along the edge of the garden. These plants, like Aloe and Century Plant are blueish green in color evergreen succulents that are well adapted to a hot desert climate.
|QT||LATIN NAME||COMMON NAME|
|3||Agave americana||Century Plant|
|6||Agave x ‘Blue Glow’||Blue Glow Agave|
|10||Aloe vera||Medicinal Aloe|
|11||Hymenoxys acaulis||Angelita Daisy|
- Pillow 2. Pillow 3. Pillow 4. Love seat 5. Arm Chairs 6. Area Rug 7. Dining Table 8. Dining Chairs 8. Planter 9. Coffee Table 10. Pergola 11. String Lights
The existing house has a small concrete patio currently big enough to squeeze a grill, a couch and a couple chairs. The goal was to extend the concrete pad in order to allow room for a shade awning. The grill had to stay where it was since it’s connected to a natural gas line. The concrete slab around the patio almost doubled in size allowing a pergola to take over the additional patio space. This allowed the grill stay where it is and remain outside from underneath the pergola. A small dining area takes up another corner of the patio.
The homeowner has a small dog and currently no comfortable place for him to run around. Since this is the a desert climate, a traditional lawn would be too intensive to maintain, so we opted for artificial turf lawn. Turf comes in all colors, blade lengths and styles now so it’s important to see what your getting. There are some turf lawns made specifically for dog areas (aka allows water and other substances to filter through, not absorb in the top layer!) I’d recommend something like this or this for light residential use.
Class up the area and enjoy it with your dog with a chaise lounge chair and a retro table. I love a colorful piece of furniture, so I might suggest something like this fermob chaise lounge in pink with a cushion to protect your buns from the hot desert sun! A fun wire side table next to the chaise can provide a spot for a drink, book, or phone.