Ideas for a desert courtyard garden

I desired plants which didn't require too much water to pay homage to the fact that we were in a desert climate.

Desert garden cactus
What is a desert garden without a cactus?
Desert garden cactus
What is a desert garden without a cactus?

One of the projects on this visit to our home in Loreto, Baja California Sur is the continuation of a project we started on our last trip down in March: planting our courtyard garden. Our Casa del Lagarto Azul is a small home, hence there is only a tiny garden area. This suits me just fine since we wanted a low maintenance vacation home.

Having pulled out the vines and branches of overgrown plants on our previous visits, I wanted to design a garden that was slow growing and maintenance free during the many months we were not in Loreto. I also desired plants which didn’t require too much water to pay homage to the fact that we were in a desert climate. Finally, the garden must have its own unique character from the one I created in my Bay Area abode. All these factors led me to create a garden design that incorporated mainly succulent plants.

Our courtyard garden now includes a large cactus, two Agave plants, a desert rose and a black olive tree.

Courtyard garden. Low maintenance and also reflects the native plant scape of the region.

This visit I also picked up two new plants. However, in my excitement, I didn’t write down the plant varietals, so instead, here are the photos of them. If you know what they are, please drop me a line.

Striking purple.
This plant caught my eye because of its striking purple color. I thought it would add some nice contrast to the greens already in the garden. I also liked the sculptural quality of the leaves.
The other plant I procured on this trip is in the background of this photo. I like it because as it grows, it will give the garden some height and also a splash of intense magenta color.

Finally, I covered the soil in gravel and lava rocks to provide a more finished look to the garden and also deter invasive weeds from sprouting up.  Since my last visit, uninvited vegetation had taken root in my garden and required me spending a part of my first day back pulling out weeds. This rock coverage will hopefully provide an end to this.

I am pleased with the results. It will take some time before the garden will develop a settled-in, mature look. However, the foundation is set for a maintenance free, sculptural courtyard garden. I will know on my next visit if I’ve truly succeeded.

The next landscaping project in our little Loreto home will be the back garden area. Right now, it is just paved with flagstone. I’d like to remove most of the flagstone, add a colorful tile fountain on the end, and a tall tree and some plants along the walls. Since this is an area I’ll be walking through, the plants will need to have softer leaves, not the spines found on most cacti.

Back garden area. I look forward to transforming this space with some lush plants.
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