A Tucson garden makes a smooth transition to the desert

In the backyard of their Tucson home, Mohit and Sherry Modi enjoy dining and relaxing in a setting that blends seamlessly with the natural scenery. Perched atop a ridge, the garden takes full advantage of views that include a verdant gorge below the property and the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north.

Previously a patch of dead lawn with a few random shrubs, the yard was transformed under the direction of landscape architect Philip Van Wyck. By building a series of low walls, planting beds, and walkways (sometimes including natural granite boulders), Van Wyck solved several of the property’s drainage issues. At the same time, he fulfilled the Modis’ wish list by including a spa, outdoor kitchen, fireplace, and water feature. Drought-tolerant and native plants ― including bougainvillea, Dalea capitata, desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri), Salvia clevelandii, and Verbena rigida ― soften the hardscape and add color and texture to the design. Beyond the walls, several blue palo verdes were planted to screen views of neighboring houses and further integrate the landscape with its surroundings.

DESIGN: Philip Van Wyck, Van Wyck & Associates, Tucson (520/731-8454)

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