Landscape help around our new outdoor living space

We spent some big bucks having pavers installed along with an fireplace and pergola in front of our house. The plan is to provide outdoor living space for the whole family to enjoy. We love the result but we now need to add some landscaping around the area for both beauty and privacy since this is on the front of our house. We live in the Central Valley of CA so planting a must be heat tolerant and preferably as low maintainence as possible. Not asking much am I ?
landscape help around our new outdoor living space, gardening, landscape, outdoor living, The photo is taken from the left side of the paver patio so hopefully you can see the areas on either side that need landscaping Right now there is wood piled on either side of the fireplace which could should be moved The area is defined somewhat by a line of bushes in a half circle There is temporary electric fencing around that to keep the horse from camping on the patio The road which is pretty busy as the dump is on it is directly behind the fireplace hence the need for some privacy planting We have oleanders planted outside the chain link fence but they have never grown huge like everyone else s in the world
The photo is taken from the left side of the paver patio so hopefully you can see the areas on either side that need landscaping. Right now there is wood piled on either side of the fireplace which could(should) be moved. The area is defined somewhat by a line of bushes in a half circle. There is temporary electric fencing around that to keep the horse from camping on the patio! The road which is pretty busy as the dump is on it, is directly behind the fireplace hence the need for some privacy planting. We have oleanders planted outside the chain link fence but they have never grown huge like everyone else's in the world!
  39 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Mar 17, 2014
    Congratulations on your beautiful makeover. The UC Davis Arboretum has resources that I think you will find very helpful, including a list of 100 "Arboretum All-Stars," plants that have proven their worth in terms of water thriftiness and lack of problems. They also have a planting plan that shows how to combine them.

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 17, 2014
      Thanks for the suggestion, Douglas. I always forget that UC Davis has other resources besides the vet hospital!

  • Melissa Leach Melissa Leach on Mar 18, 2014
    How nice...I'm sure the family will enjoy many activities together in this beautiful area. Good luck with your landscaping. I hope you incorporate some loose stone paths.

  • JoieBK JoieBK on Mar 18, 2014
    Zeriscape plants would be what I would ask about, once established, very low maintenance & water. Some I loved in Colorado high mountains were sage, some varieties grow to be lovely large bushes. Galardia is also a great one, Indian Paintbrush, Lupine, ooh drawing a blank. Google Zeriscape plants, you will get some great information. Happy Planting!

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 19, 2014
      Thanks for the suggestions! Galatia is one I'm not familiar with at all. Ill definitely check it out.

  • Heidi Pepin-Clark Heidi Pepin-Clark on Mar 20, 2014
    Oh please let me at it!!!!

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 25, 2014
      Too bad you don't live a little closer, Heidi ! I'd be glad to. I just look at the empty space and wonder what the heck to do. The paver people also do artificial turf which I can see as part of the answer but I don't want to cover both areas with just that. Boring! I'd like these areas to be an extension of the patio area.

  • Susan Butler Susan Butler on Mar 20, 2014
    For ease of maintenance you can't beat succulents....MANY many varieties too

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 25, 2014
      Hadn't thought of those. I did make a broken pot succulent planter last year and I also tried to create one of those succulent "ball" but I don't think I chose all the right plants and then the freak freeze killed most of it. I haven't had the heart to explore all the damage in my backyard yet.

  • Rhonda Rhonda on Mar 20, 2014
    Everything is a bit square...round things off and ease up the sharp edges with landscaping that may grow over the edges a bit. Good luck.

  • Judy Batty Judy Batty on Mar 20, 2014
    You might consider some freestanding raised beds. You could even have benches as part of the structure on the patio side for extra seating. It might even be fun to include vegetables or herbs which could be used as part of the outside cooking you're likely to do. Have fun.

  • MariAgnes Malkonian MariAgnes Malkonian on Mar 20, 2014
    @ @Janet F : Your makeover is so inspiring! While Im not familiar with CA specific plantings... just wanted to add to all the other great suggestions here, esp if you're looking for privacy, (ie big?), low maintainence, with the added bonus of gorgeous fragrance during long bloom periods & the ambiance of butterflies, I totally recommed some cultivar of Buddleia davidii ('Nanho Purple'?) or Butterfly Bush.

  • Caroline Hargrove Caroline Hargrove on Mar 20, 2014
    Bottle Brush Bush is also a good one. One apartment I lived in when in Stockton, Ca had some.

  • Paula Snodgrass Paula Snodgrass on Mar 20, 2014
    I personally love lilacs, oleander, tall grasses and lavender. Be sure to mulch to help keep the ground moisture retained. And I agree with Judy about growing herbs. They make a lovely border and can be added closer to the actual patio. Consider some large boulders, rocks to add some interest, plant succulents around the rocks. Have fun, just do your research on space that the plant will need when mature. Hostas plants in a variety of colors. Use some large containers to add color and raise low growing plants. Enjoy!

  • Rae E Rae E on Mar 20, 2014
    Depending on your area for what will grow successfully. I would go to your local Botanical Garden if you have one or to the BEST Garden Center in your area. Usually there are a few Landscaping companies that will actually come out and give you an estimate and bid of what would work and ideas for landscaping. Many actually get the info and do the work DIY instead of paying to have someone do it. Jasmine would be great for the trellis but it does cling and wrap when growing you could probably add wood or metal latiss to one side and paint it white my favorite is a night blooming jasmine.Agree Bottlebrush is gorgeous in the Spring and Summer it is actually traced back to the times of Christ. Crown of thorns is a beautiful plant but wouldn't put anywhere near small children or pets the thorns are painful x ten thousand. From your photos it looks like your patio/outdoor living area is mostly FULL sun. I have had good luck finding well informed garden center workers at Home Depot and plants are really reasonable provided they are well cared for.

  • Mclines Mclines on Mar 20, 2014
    Plant some roses, begonias, geraniums.....lots of color

  • Susie Allread-Jones Susie Allread-Jones on Mar 20, 2014
    I would use the wood for borders, if I wasnt going to use it I would give it away to someone with a repurposing shoppe.

  • Susie Allread-Jones Susie Allread-Jones on Mar 20, 2014
    Oh and some peonys and dahlias in there some where too, maybe a few lilac and rose bushes.

  • Christina L Christina L on Mar 20, 2014
    Nail trellises to 12 foot 4x4s. Bury the remainder of the 4x4s space them around your pavers. Plant different vine perennials and watch your garden grow each year. Roses, petunias, hunny suckles. And inbetween your trellises you can plant sunflowers each year. I love the amount ofnature that fills my yard from all the different flowers

  • Debby Debby on Mar 20, 2014

  • Vicki Menton Vicki Menton on Mar 20, 2014
    I would ask at a nursery or if you have an Agriculture Extension talk to them about native plants to your area.

  • Karen Chiavaroli DeIorio Karen Chiavaroli DeIorio on Mar 20, 2014
    Not familiar with the native plantings in your area, but I would add some Arborvitaes, Maiden Grass and Zebra grass. The ornamental grasses are very low maintenance, grow quickly both in height and diameter and also provide soft movement. You can then add some lower growing florals for color. I'm on the east coast, but my Maiden grass grew to 6 ft high and 6 ft wide within 2 years and survived the harsh winter after being cut back in the fall. They provide great privacy. You could also pot some Hibiscus too grow up the trellis, then you can enjoy the hummingbirds too!!

  • Fran Fran on Mar 20, 2014
    I am thinking grasses. Or even a hedge of box. Out by the fireplace some tall column ar evergreens.

  • Lisa Lisa on Mar 20, 2014
    Beautiful! You could ask a landscaper or two for ideas..and then do it yourself if you need to save some money. If you have some favorite plants or flowers, you ask them how you could incorporate them into your landscape and what plants would do well in certain areas, etc.. I would also think some pretty planted pots of flowers would be nice on the patio area.

  • Susan B. Anderson Susan B. Anderson on Mar 20, 2014
    @V"icki Menton Vicki! What a great piece of advice! I am a Master Gardener Trainee in Northwestern PA. My first thought was: " I can't answer her question because I don't know the native plants in her region. She really needs to "GO NATIVE"! And her Agricultural Extension Office is a perfect place to start!

  • Chris Ridpath Chris Ridpath on Mar 20, 2014
    Well I am a landscape designer first things first,,, trees for shade and frame your views

    • Susan B. Anderson Susan B. Anderson on Mar 20, 2014
      @Chris Ridpath WOW! You have my dream job! Just got my Master Gardeners Certification and have an Associates in Architectural Design, I have AutoCAD....I am hoping to combine my education into becoming a Landscape Architect! Tell me about your career passion and give me any tips on how to succeed please?

  • Chris Ridpath Chris Ridpath on Mar 20, 2014
    who is the manufacturer of the fire place?

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 21, 2014
      The whole job was done by a company called Systems Paver. They also do artificial turf which I'm thinking of looking into. I love grass but then there's the watering which concerns me around the pavers and the mowing. We have some grass in the back but it's a mess.....very uneven growth, not notice to walk on. Probably will replace it with sod one of these days.

  • Andrea P Andrea P on Mar 20, 2014
    I would plant boxwood and some perennials like hydrangeas, if shady enough. Put pots of annuals in and around the perennials for continuous summer color.

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 21, 2014
      I love hydrangeas but I think there's probably not enough shade for them to survive. I like the idea of pots with annual for color. I have a bunch on the porch which you can't see in the picture. My petunias survived the winter....that's how mild it's been except for one week or so of freezing weather that killed my beautiful potato vines in the backyard.:(

  • Linda Woolever Linda Woolever on Mar 20, 2014
    First thing would be to come up with a design - where you want turf, beds, and/or a pathway. There are Landscapers out there that can help you with the design and help you choose plants that would work in your area.

  • Sallylynn James Sallylynn James on Mar 20, 2014
    I would plant a row of Bamboo because it grows fast and is very hardy. Leave a border for perennials and a row of annuals. Enjoy!

  • Fiona Loper Fiona Loper on Mar 21, 2014
    do a little research for plants that repel night time insects like mosquitoes etc....... and plant those around accordingly.

  • Vivian Hansen-Aulet Vivian Hansen-Aulet on Mar 21, 2014
    Can you put a stone fence by the road? It will reduce the noice, and give you some privacy to start, then edge it with bushes, tall flowers or small trees that works for your area, not sure where you are but gardenias or maybe butterfly bushes, they cover nicely and have a great scent.

  • Janet Janet on Mar 21, 2014
    Please don't do Bamboo! That is so invasive and you can never get rid of it after you've planted it! I have it all through one side of my home and it is spreading to all the other sides of the house......We didn't plant it here it was already here! I dug and dug last Summer thinking I could get rid of it to plant perennials and it is still there even though I dug way down and got at the roots! Now I am not looking forward to trying to get rid of it with plants there.......:(

  • Tanya Morris Daub Tanya Morris Daub on Mar 21, 2014
    If you go to you can research plants in your area, make a plant list and save it for later. Lodi is very HOT, my daughter got married there last year but its beautiful country. Take pictures from different angles, from where you would sit or look out and draw ideas out based on the pictures. I would keep anything tall away from that beautiful fireplace. If you want privacy push it back, keep things short so it wont take away from that beautiful design.

    • Janet F Janet F on Apr 20, 2014
      Thanks for the suggestions Tanya. Ill check out the Monrovia site for plant suggestions. I get frustrated sometimes when I hear of the perfect plant but when I go to the nursery, I can't find it. Guess I need to go to Sacramento. It can get pretty warm here for sure. Both of my sons were married in the Japanese Tea Garden, one in June and the other in September and we lucked out both times and had perfect weather so you never know.

  • Cathy B Cathy B on Mar 21, 2014
    Search for fast growing shrubs, trees and grasses for your growing region. Plant for ultimate growth - tall to the middle and back, medium round to the front and low blooming perennials to the inside. Use a dark mulch to give the plantings a "groomed" look. In my region I would use a hedge shrub that grows tall and then boxwoods and hostas, then geraniums, pansies and moss.

  • Dawn Dawn on Mar 21, 2014
    I love tall grasses and sedum. All are drought tolerant and provide color all year round. Best of all the need little maintenance,

    • Janet F Janet F on Apr 20, 2014
      Ahhhhhh....drought tolerant and low to my ears! Thanks for your help.

  • Robin Norris Robin Norris on Mar 23, 2014
    We have a huge flower bed around a cross at our church. When I asked the garden ctr.what to plant she suggested lorapetulum. It has dark red foliage, can get quite big and blooms in spring and fall....and we're in coastal Louisiana so it is HOT here, too.

    • Janet F Janet F on Mar 24, 2014
      Sounds interesting. Ill check our local nursery for it. I love red!

  • Janet F Janet F on Mar 24, 2014
    Wow! Sounds like my kind of plants for sure. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Janet F Janet F on Mar 25, 2014
    Very true. Curves are nice for sure. Ill keep that in mind. Thanks?

  • Janet F Janet F on Mar 25, 2014
    Ill check but I believe that grows well here. I wasn't aware that they grew large or quickly though. And butterflies are a nice addition.

  • Janet F Janet F on Mar 25, 2014
    Oh great idea! We're planning on building a large table for eating, game playing etc. but I do want to use the area around the patio as an added extension so extra seating is good. I had herbs growing in this area but the one rosemary bush you can see is all that remains. The rest had to be removed:( I've been thinking about putting in raised beds in my other garden area but some here could work as well. Thanks

  • Susan Butler Susan Butler on Mar 25, 2014
    Quite a few succulents are cold hardy. Even here where winter temps can get to minus 20 degrees.

  • Janet F Janet F on Mar 26, 2014
    I guess I didn't choose the right ones but then I know little about succulents. I just picked what I thought was 'cute' !