Lusher look

Low-water landscaping made easy


After: The palm remains but the lawn and ferns gave way to a colorful island bed designed to be admired from the sidewalk or front porch.

Steven Gunther

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  • Before

    A flat lawn a few ferns and a lone palm made for a dull yard.

Can a novice gardener successfully revamp a landscape? Absolutely.

Just take a look at Claudia Armann's old front yard in Ventura, California. When she and her husband, Kurt, moved in, the first-time homeowners faced a boring patch of lawn and little else. Two years later, they enjoy a vibrant landscape composed of succulents and drought-tolerant perennials that win admiring looks from passersby.

Armann accomplished this transformation without professional help.

Plants with strong forms predominate, notably agaves and cycads, which complement the existing bird of paradise and queen palm. Mediterranean plants like rosemary add softer texture.

Running through is a bold stripe of color provided by rosy pink lantana and Jupiter's beard, plus purple Mexican bush sage and orange California poppies, as shown on the next page. Sedum and other small succulents trim the edges.

The new landscape uses much less water than the old lawn; most plants need irrigation only once a month. And it's a lot more fun to be in the garden. "There are always bees, butterflies, and birds," Armann says.

Next: Get Armann's makeover basics


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