Front Parkway (continued)

Download PDF

The front parkway project continues, while I try to figure out exactly what I want. I have tossed around lots of ideas, such as:

  1. Striking, architectural succulents. A kind of modern look. Too modern?
  2. Dudleyas and juncus – odd combination, succulent and wiry, powdery gray and shiny dark green –  flowing from the front yard across the sidewalk and spilling into the parkway.
  3. Decomposed granite and almost no plants at all.
  4. Collection of boulders.
  5. Sagescrub plants like the parkway on Milan, only smaller.
Parkway view from my office window.

None has grabbed me, so I have decided to write down some of the properties/conditions I want for the parkway. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Locally native species for better habitat.
  2. Little to no supplemental water needed.
  3. No new materials purchased and carted into the garden. That includes buying rocks, boulders, decomposed granite, or lots of new plants (a few new plants and seeds are fine).
  4. Very low maintenance, even during establishment.
  5. Lower-growing, neater, less wild looking than the planting along Milan, but similar in feel.
  6. Capture runoff from the sidewalk and street if possible.

All of this leads me to clumps of bunchgrasses interspersed with wildflowers, especially when the garden is young. I have lots of small cobbles throughout the yard that can be grouped to form mounds that drift across the parkway. 

    Medium-sized rocks from other garden beds are being placed in the parkway, massed for more impact. Also the soil is being graded so that water does not runoff into the street or sidewalk.
    Soil level is slightly higher under the rock piles where the water will have an easier time soaking in.

    Many of the grasses will come from the sidewalk garden on Milan. The needlegrasses (Nassella species) and purple three awn (Aristida purpurea) have reseeded, mostly along the sidewalk. These will be dug out and replanted in the front. I will try some other locally native grasses to see how they do, such as: squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), melic grass (Melica imperfecta), littleseed muhly (Muhlenbergia microsperma), California brome (Bromus carinatus), and Diego bent grass (Agrostis pallens).

    Needlegrass (Nassella species) growing along sidewalk on Milan will be transplanted into the new parkway garden on Monterey. (I do not know exactly which needlegrass these are because over the years I have planted N. cernua, N. lepida, and N. pulchra. These are probably hybrids. Maybe I’ll try to key them out when they go to seed.)
    Squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) that I bought at the Grow Native Nursery-Westwood plant sale last weekend.

    The springtime will be a riot of color from phacelias, tidytips, poppies, madias (tarweed), chia and gilias. Although these do take some work, cleaning up the beds after the wildflowers are done blooming, I cannot miss out on the great, colorful wildflower display in the first spring after lawn is removed.

    4 thoughts on “Front Parkway (continued)

    1. Wonderful post. Thank you for letting us in the process. I'm curious about the awn grasses — do they produce the armored seeds like foxtails? (From a dog owner..) I bought some grass seeds from rancho and am thinking of starting them in pots rather than sowing to make editing easier later on. What say you?

    2. Hi Emily. I would avoid the purple three awn with a dog. It is not at all like the foxtails but it will get caught in fur, clothing, etc. and it seeds profusely – all year long. Needlegrass is similar, though it seeds in early spring and then the needle-like awns fall off. Both, though, are softer than foxtail. As you can see from the picture above squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) is very stiff

    3. Too late to take advantage of it, I read some advice about combining grasses and flowers in a meadow-like setting: Plant the grasses first and let them grow for a season. This prevents the faster growing and often taller annuals from overwhelming the grasses in their first and most vulnerable year.<br /><br />Other mitigating circumstances: Perhaps your transplants will be large enough to elbow

    4. Thanks, Brent. I will keep this in mind and try to separate the annual wildflowers and the grasses. I actually think the transplanted grasses will be fine – they are pretty good sized. Barbara

    Comments are closed.