Our 1954 Home: Front Yard

Patrick and I aim to do one or two big house projects each year, and we were on the verge of rebuilding the wall between the living room and office, with a list of contractors to call for estimates and then the pandemic hit. While construction is of course an essential business, it wasn’t like we were missing an outside wall, and I didn’t want people in and out of our home, so we decided to put the money toward finally doing the front yard.

Our completed yard, a patch of green goes from the sidewalk to a rock edge pathway, past it features warm, decomposed granite and a variety of cacti. Text overlay reads "Our 1954 Home Front Yard"

When Patrick and I bought our home the previous owners had put down sod to provide a patch of lush green grass (you can see it in this listing photo), but after not watering it for like two days it promptly died and just would not come back. Additionally, I didn’t really want grass. Not in need of a place space for children to frolic in the front yard, combined with frequent droughts, having a front yard of grass simply didn’t make sense. So what to do?

As odd as this might sound, I fell in love with the landscaping on the tram route between the Mickey and Friends parking structure and Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort, which featured succulents, warm decomposed granite, and in one area, a lovely dry riverbed. Inspired by this I sketched out a design, and we set out to make it a reality last October, when it’s the best time to plant here in California.

Our yard in progress, dirt makes up most of the yard with some plants scattered.

We removed a curb that curved through the yard, as well as some plants, and laid it out, making a few changes here and there. We opted to make the “riverbed” a bit more of a path, connecting the driveway with the side path to the backyard, which also happens to be the path that our yard debris bin goes along when we work in the backyard, hence the width. Colonel Whiskers was a big help, as you’ll see…

Colonel Whiskers, our fluffy grey cat walks along a curb we are in the process of removing.

Thankfully, the long period between sketching out my design and beginning the project left me with enough time to propagate additional plants from our existing ones, and we didn’t need to purchase a ton of new plants, saving us some money, which was immediately eaten by rocks. Rocks turns out are expensive, and because I wanted some larger ones, their weight required us to also pay for a crane service to place them.

Our yard in progress. Rocks placed, and edging placed for the pathway.

Colonel Whiskers lays near one of the new rocks.

While not wanting grass per se, I did want a small, grass-like area, near the front portion of the yard, and found a succulent called “Dwarf Carpet of Stars” which serves as a hardy, walkable, green ground covering. It takes ages to fill in, hence the long delay between the start of this project six months ago and now.

Our completed yard, a patch of green goes from the sidewalk to a rock edge pathway, past it features warm, decomposed granite and a variety of cacti.

A rock pathway weaves toward the house, edged with large rocks. Cacti sit between the path and the house.

Close up of red flowers blooming on a prickly pear cactus.

Close-up of warm toned rocks that sit along the path.

Close up of palm fronds

Close up of a barrel cactus.

Close up of some pink flowers growing from a succulent.

Close-up of a turquoise colored rock that sits along the edge of the path.

View of our yard, a palm tree sits in the lower right, and a desert landscape stretches back toward the house with rocks and cacti.

Overall, I’m really quite pleased with how the yard turned out, and we’ve received loads of compliments from neighbors, so I would call it a success! There are still plenty of other projects for the front of the house, including the front door, and porch light.

For those in the Southern California area and interested in drought tolerant landscaping… We used Southwest Boulder & Stone for our rocks and decomposed granite, they were very nice and offered a wide selection of stones. Plants came from a variety of places, including RV Nursery, Martinez Nursery, and Armstrong Garden Center.

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