Post a reply

Avatar for TrinaLou
Aug 16, 2021 12:38 PM CST
Thread OP
West Hills, CA (Zone 9b)
I have a rental house in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, CA. There has been a drought, and hardly any rain so water is an issue. But right now we have a lot of dirt, gopher holes, and weeds. Please help? Something for a good size backyard that can handle dogs and kids potentially. And for the large front yard to look better.
Aug 16, 2021 1:47 PM CST
Taos, New Mexico (Zone 5b)
Crescit Eundo
Greenhouse Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Mexico
What's your budget?
Aug 16, 2021 2:03 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
If you need to relax, grow plants!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
I don't believe that a budget does not matter. Drought produces deserts, not Gardens of Eden.

You can accept the drought, grow cacti and succulents but an extreme drought does not produce greenery.
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Avatar for MsDoe
Aug 16, 2021 2:14 PM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
First, are you the tenant or the landlord?
I'd start by just mowing or trimming down the weeds, that helps a lot.
Aug 16, 2021 4:04 PM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River Twp, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Welcome to NGA, @TrinaLou Smiling

I had the same question, about "are you the tenant or landlord?"
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer
C/F temp conversion
Avatar for TrinaLou
Aug 16, 2021 9:46 PM CST
Thread OP
West Hills, CA (Zone 9b)
Hi and thanks,
Sorry, I am the home homeowner and I live out of state unfortunately. My mom lives two hours south of L.A. My aunt was living there for a long time and we're trying to prepare it for a rental. We have a gardener taking care of the weeds but it's mostly hard dirt, with gopher holes. And it's a pretty good size lot, about 1500 ft.² in the backyard and about the same in the front yard. some sprinklers keep breaking so if we do some desert scape we need irrigation. And I'm looking for possibly a living wall, hedge or vines instead of replacing it with that expensive fence.
Somebody mentioned cape honeysuckle. We would need to do a drip type of irrigation. ?? And there maybe rocks or Decomposed granite, in the rest of the yard. We have two orange trees and a small lemon tree that I'd like to keep alive
Avatar for TrinaLou
Aug 16, 2021 9:49 PM CST
Thread OP
West Hills, CA (Zone 9b)
Again, I am the landlord from a distance. But we're not ready to sell it for some personal and tax reasons. And if we do decomposed granite with an old gray block wall it may look like a prison yard. So I was thinking of some plants. How much water do you think some cactus or desert plants will need? Thanks
Aug 16, 2021 11:10 PM CST
Taos, New Mexico (Zone 5b)
Crescit Eundo
Greenhouse Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Mexico
Drip irrigation is the most water efficient method. When properly set up it puts just the right amount of water on just the right spot. And almost no water is lost to evaporation.

At a minimum I think you'll want drip irrigation for the fruit trees. And if you're going to irrigate those you might as well irrigate whatever else you put in. Cactus and other extremely low water plants don't need much water at all but they look better when they are regularly irrigated.

For ease of maintenance hard surfaces are best. Things like pavers, bricks, etc. Rock on top of landscape fabric tends to look crappy after a few years because the weeds will start to grow in the rocks.

And get rid of the gophers before you plant anything else. I prefer gopher bait but hard traps work well too. The voodoo sticks and crystals that are supposed to drive the gophers away don't work.
Aug 16, 2021 11:18 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Bee Lover Salvias Region: New Mexico Herbs Container Gardener Composter
Cat Lover Butterflies Bookworm Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
TrinaLou said: ... Something for a good size backyard that can handle dogs and kids potentially...

I wouldn't recommend cactus where kids or dogs might be (I'm not sure they are a great idea for a rental at all). There are many shrubs and trees native to your area which, once established, require little water and would be a more attractive alternative to the prison yard approach. Plus, trees provide shade. A local independent nursery could be a good place to start getting ideas. Are you planning to do the work yourself or will you hire a landscaper?

Planning (the right plant choices, layout) and preparation (soil, irrigation) are critical to your success and are often the parts that people overlook in their eagerness to get plants in the ground. If you install plants appropriate to your climate and soil conditions with proper irrigation and spacing, they will require less maintenance in the long run.

Anything you put in will require extra water for about the first year. Fall is a good time to start planting. Well, in your area, maybe late fall or winter (or your version of it Big Grin )

Can you post some photos of the yard?
Avatar for TrinaLou
Aug 17, 2021 2:46 AM CST
Thread OP
West Hills, CA (Zone 9b)
I live on the east coast and the house is on the West Coast. We have some pavers that are 1 ft.², and they get weeds popping through. I agree that rocks don't look good. I guess I need to find a landscaper who can help me with some sort of groundcover. I looked into the artificial turf and that would be $8000 for the backyard and wouldn't even cover the entire thing
Avatar for TrinaLou
Aug 17, 2021 2:48 AM CST
Thread OP
West Hills, CA (Zone 9b)
I live on the east coast and the house is on the West Coast. We have some pavers that are 1 ft.², and they get weeds popping through. I agree that rocks don't look good. I guess I need to find a landscaper who can help me with some sort of groundcover. I looked into the artificial turf and that would be $8000 for the backyard and wouldn't even cover the entire thing
Thumb of 2021-08-17/TrinaLou/3bb9e4
Thumb of 2021-08-17/TrinaLou/18aa28
Thumb of 2021-08-17/TrinaLou/b88e8e
Aug 17, 2021 3:07 AM CST
Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
Adeniums Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Procrastinator Plumerias Houseplants Growing under artificial light
Frugal Gardener Foliage Fan Dragonflies Container Gardener Cactus and Succulents Butterflies
There are truly spineless opuntia that grow up instead of sprawling out. But, I agree that most cacti are not going to be a good idea with kids and dogs running around.

I would start by looking into the plants that were native to the area before all the irrigation. That might give you some ideas on what will survive with minimal care.
I have found that coffee, tea, and rose can all agree on one thing... water everyday.
Avatar for MsDoe
Aug 17, 2021 10:48 AM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
Hello TrinaLou, and welcome.
Thanks for the pictures and added info, that helps a lot. Here are a few suggestions for you, just my opinion of course.
Most tenants are not landscape oriented. They will not keep an eye on it like a gardener/homeowner will. You'll need a landscape maintenance company, and they won't be there every day.
Gopher holes create a liability issue in a rental. Get rid of the gophers!
It's very difficult to manage a rental from a distance. You might want to touch base with a property management company. What is customary in your area? Here, most rentals have minimal to no landscaping. If the tenant has a dog, it's very hard on landscaping. Also, who pays the water bill? If you do, the drip irrigation is covered but the tenant has no motivation to conserve. If they do, they're not going to want to pay for the irrigation.
I strongly suggest you have a complete, professional landscape plan before installing anything. Figure out the hardscape and landscape design, where the irrigation system will run, where do the trees, shrubs and vines fit in. Then you can implement the plan either all at once or a little at a time. You can pay for a plan without the installation, if you wish. Search for "San Fernando Valley Landscape Design" and you'll find lots of choices. Many now emphasize drought-tolerant, fire-wise, native, etc. You should be able to find someone you can work with.
All of this will cost money. Have a budget in mind, but also remember that, on the positive side, good landscaping can add a lot of value to a property and possibly increase the rent amount you can ask for.
Not having a prison-yard look is a great starting point!
Avatar for porkpal
Aug 17, 2021 11:31 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
Cat Lover Charter ATP Member Keeper of Poultry I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Keeps Horses
Roses Plant Identifier Farmer Raises cows Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 2
Everyone says get rid of the gophers - ha! Perhaps they can suggest HOW that can be done. My only contribution is to try planting horse herb as a ground cover. It requires much less water than grass, tolerates foot traffic, and can be mowed. I agree that you should not count on tenants to maintain any landscaping. Do the bare minimum, then if you get an enthusiastic tenant, work with them to make improvements.
Aug 17, 2021 12:13 PM CST
Taos, New Mexico (Zone 5b)
Crescit Eundo
Greenhouse Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Mexico
Your fruit trees look great. They are a wonderful focus for your yard.

Here are some suggestions. They are made with simplicity, ease of maintenance and durability in mind.

Except for adding some sort of watering for the tree, I would leave the area behind the carport as is. You won't get much to grow there with all that shade and its probably not used much anyway. In any event the shade is the main feature of that side yard.

I would do more with the other side yard. Some hardscaping around the big tree and stretching to the back yard. I'm thinking the same pavers you have in the back yard and maybe some kind of border around the big tree. Also irrigation for the existing plants. I would define the back area, with the small citrus tree and two other plants, using some kind of hard border. Maybe you could use those bricks behind the car port?

In the back I would continue to lay down pavers. Yes, weeds will grow up between them, but unless you pour concrete you will have weeds anyway. And you will have fewer weeds with large pavers than you will with most other options. You can put down plastic under the pavers to slow down the weeds for a while. Large pavers will also present a significant obstacle to the gophers. I would also put some native plants along the wall and run some water to them.

If your feeling optimistic you can put some perennial flowers in large pots here and there around the yard.

You might think about painting the wall. Concrete walls are very easy and cheap to paint and they look way better than the "prison" gray wall you have now. If you want to spend a little more money you could have it stuccoed to match the house.

Good luck!
Last edited by Henderman Aug 17, 2021 12:18 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for clehmann7
Aug 21, 2021 5:13 AM CST
Valparaiso, Indiana
Daylilies might be part of your solution. Not the gorgeous modern hybrids, just good old-fashioned orange, the kind known around here (NW Indiana, zone 5) as "ditch lilies." In my experience, you can't kill them. I've tried having somebody dig them up and take them away for transplanting elsewhere, and a year later I couldn't tell anything had been done. They are tough and tenacious as well as exuberantly colorful. You'd need to check their soil and water requirements for the area, of course.
Avatar for Heuchera
Aug 21, 2021 11:23 AM CST
Name: Ruth Moxom

Mulch, mulch, mulch.
If you plant grass, do this in the early spring or fall because grass seed likes cool weather. A light mulch of straw will shield the soil and help germination.
And add in a little white clover. The reason for this is that clover adds free nitrogen to your soil.
Here's a great link that will explain it all:

On the other hand, if you're planning a veggie garden, just take 3 2 x 8's or similar.
Cut one in half for the end panels.
Put a layer of cardboard over the sod or bare soil. Add mulch like your grass clippings, chopped leaves, soil, etc. and let it all decompose and begin your garden.
Keep adding mulch to keep weeds from sprouting and to keep your soil cooler and moist.
Then sit back & enjoy!
Avatar for CBGC48
Aug 21, 2021 1:37 PM CST
Bandon, OR
My husband and I built a house in Escondido, CA. We had a rock front yard and side yards with drought tolerant plants planted in a small circular area in the middle. We build a "fence" of Oleander on the lot line in agreement with our neighbors also landscaping their yard. It's very desert-friendly. We did have sod in the backyard for our two dogs. It was very pretty and practical.

(I recently looked up the property online and the present owners actually planted a lawn in the front yard. What were they thinking?)

Whatever you do, you won't get renters to water the property unless they love plants and gardening like I do, unless you offer to help pay some of the water bill. I have lived in my rental for 5 years, and my nice landlord has never raised my rent even though he could, because he appreciates me mowing and keeping the place looking nice. If I rented your place, I would have a lot of potted flowering plants because that is just too barren for me.
Aug 21, 2021 1:57 PM CST
Name: Anita Droby
Central MA
What do the neighbors have that is working? Check out their ideas and successes. If you can, call or go to a local garden center, not a Home Depot or big box store, that is privately owned and ask them what works in that area. Most of the time small local places are more than happy to help.
Aug 21, 2021 4:06 PM CST
Name: alinda
La Junta, CO (Zone 5b)
I'm glad to be here!
If you're doing drip irrigation, I'd plant the whole front yard in lavender. Maybe the backyard could be native grasses. Good luck!
Thumb of 2021-08-21/thiswildride/8a1f51
When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside, as fate.
C. G. Jung
Last edited by thiswildride Aug 21, 2021 4:10 PM Icon for preview

Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.
  • Started by: TrinaLou
  • Replies: 21, views: 955
Member Login:

( No account? Join now! )

Today's site banner is by Murky and is called "Hibiscus"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.