Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
The cacti and succulents are versatile plants that can be used in many ways
throughout the landscape. Here are some ideas.
These are very popular in warm and dry climates. They’re also ideal for those areas where the soil is poor and infertile. Creating a gravel garden does require careful preparation before the planting is done. Once the plants are in place and the gravel mulch is applied, there is little that needs done after that. This is a very low maintenance garden style.
Most people opt for attractively colored gravel rather than plain gray since this is such an important feature in this type garden. For the gravel garden, you can mix various hardy cacti and succulents with other drought tolerant plants.
Terraces and Retaining Walls
For hillsides and slopes where terracing and retaining walls are required, succulents can play a valuable role. These plants are quick to become established and need a minimum of water. These plants can soften the view, especially when you have large expanses of stone or concrete. Those in warm climates might prefer low growing aloes, echeverias, and aeoniums, while sempervivums are good choice for colder climates. In some cases, the smaller opuntias are a suitable choice. Along the edges of the terrace walls plant some succulents with cascading stems.
Berms and Raised Beds
These are specialized kinds of garden beds that are especially suited for cold climates or those areas where the soil is often heavy and unsuitable for cacti and succulents. As a general rule, these plants don’t like wet soil, particularly during the winter months. Both of these bed types provide quick drainage and good growing conditions for cacti and succulents so excess moisture can drain away from the plants. Raised beds can be constructed on any flat area. It might take a little effort, but these are well worth the effort.
Berms are often installed on special trouble spots in the landscape, such as sloping spots on the side of a driveway. You can use suitable sandy, quick draining soil and mound it up to create the berm. For sites that slope, it is important to have a means of holding the soil in place so it won’t wash away during heavy rains.