Landscaping With Succulents – Tips and Tricks

Thanks to the low water usage and minimum care, landscaping with succulents has become a real trend in the recent years. Some gardeners choose to cut off lawns and flower beds completely, while other try to keep them to a minimum. Succulents are perfect if you live in an area with drought, for instance, since they don’t need lots of watering. Today we will show you everything you need to know about landscaping with succulents.

Landscaping with Succulents 101

How to Prepare the Garden

Before going on with the task, you need to know some more about how to plant succulents. Here you have some things you should keep in mind.

Soil

A big part of succulents can live well in the same soil as other garden plants.  The key thing you have to keep in mind is ensuring a good drainage for the plants. The depth depends, in general, on the type and size of the succulents you intend to use. For this, it’s better to look up the instructions for your plant. However, you can take as standard a depth between 12 and 18 inches. This is due to the fact that succulents tend to present some shallow roots.

In case you have a compacted soil or one that is full of clay, then you need to use lots of organic material. For example, you can use compost for solving this issue. You can check the drainage of the soil by digging a hole that is one-foot deep. Fill it with water and wait. If the water will drain in maximum 30 minutes, then the soil is perfectly porous for succulents. If not, add some more organic material, then check again for drainage.

Spacing

It is important to pay attention to spacing when landscaping with succulents. Check the labels for each individual plant for the spacing requirements. As a general rule, succulents can do with being placed close to each other, but it’s better to know exactly what each plant needs. One of the best things about this type of landscaping is that you can adapt your garden for as much or as little space you need. Square foot gardening can be perfect for succulents, for instance.

Watering

As previously mentioned, succulents grow perfectly in conditions of low humidity. For this reason, they are great for arid areas. Once you establish them, they are quite hardy. However, they still need enough moisture during the growing season. An often-encountered problem with succulent plants is rotting. Usually, this appears because of too much water. Ideally, you should water the plants deeply whenever the soil is dry. Water a couple of inches down, and only water again when the soil is dry.

Design Suggestions

The most natural choice for landscaping with succulents is to recreate their natural environment, namely a desert area with little vegetation, rocks, and sand. In your garden, you can keep this look by using rocks, boulders, pebbles or gravel. They will make a nice contrast with green or colorful cacti, as well as other succulents. In case you already have some rocky outcrops in your garden, you can plan it around them.

If not, you can bring some boulders or rocks and plan an arrangement for them. You can substitute mulch with gravel, which will cover up the space between succulents. Moreover, you can choose between various types and colors of gravel.

Walkways

It is a smart idea to add walkways when landscaping with succulents since it can help you enjoy your garden to the maximum. The paths let you look closer at each plant, do your maintenance work with more ease and harvest edible parts in case you have edible succulents. Besides, if you choose to go for cacti, they have spines, so it’s safer for you to include walkways in your design.

You can use gravel and pebbles to line up the walkways. Alternatively, choose flagstones, bound aggregate or granite tiles. If there are high-traffic walkways next to the house, pave them, but try to keep natural materials for an authentic feel.

Ledges and Slopes

Landscapes that have a natural slope are perfect for succulent gardens since you can ensure a good drainage with them. If you don’t have a naturally sloped landscape, you can use some earth moving equipment to create them. Another suggestion would be to stack large pieces of granite on top of each other. In this way, you will offer succulents the nooks and crannies they love to grow in.

Water Elements

It’s true that adding a water element in a desert design can seem a little off. However, it’s interesting to have a small pond or a stream. If you have lots of drought in the area you live in, go for a dry creek or pond. For this, you can use pebbles in a contrasting color to create the illusion of water, such as almost black or very light colored. You can even run a stream of water sometimes through the dry creek with the help of a pump. Even so, when the weather is dry, a lot of water will evaporate.

This clip shows you some more tips and secrets for landscaping with succulents:

Choosing the Best Succulents

Now you know a thing or two about preparing the design or the conditions for succulents to grow. It’s time for us to show you a selection of the best succulents you can choose for your garden:

1. Aeonium

The Aeonium comes from the Canary Islands and prefers more moisture than a regular succulent. If you choose to go for a darker variety, keep in mind that they tolerate the sun more than their lighter counterparts. You will see that most aeoniums have the shape of flowers and rosettes, which makes them extra pretty for container gardens, bouquets or other arrangements.

2. Agave

The agaves grow naturally in the Americas. They present strong forms and come in large sizes, being perfect for landscape plants. The leaves are smooth, shaped like a sword and toothed. They rarely bloom, but when they do, the result in huge (even more than 14 feet sometimes) and splendid. After they flower, the big agave dies, but before that, they produce pups that will live.

3. Aloe

We have all heard about the benefits of aloe vera. Originating from Africa, Madagascar and the Mediterranean, aloes present some fleshy and pointed leaves. They are organized in rosettes, which is why they look a lot like agaves. However, as opposed to them, the aloes bloom regularly, having the best display of flowers from February to September. Some of the blooms have a tubular shape. The colors are red, yellow or orange, while some plants can also be bicolor.

4. Crassula

Coming from South Africa, this is the name of a small and medium succulent with fleshy leaves. The best thing about them is that they have a huge array of patterns. Some varieties present branching stems, while other have a dense foliage. The latter can be used for a good ground cover.

5. Dasylirion

Though the name may be unfamiliar, you might have seen this plant before. The appearance resembles a palm tree, but in fact, it’s a succulent. It’s very popular in xeriscaping and it offers a southwestern feel. Indeed, this species loves water but can adapt to drought and desert conditions. You can make them particularly attractive by planting them in containers.

6. Dudleya

This is yet another species that offers a great flower in the shape of a rosette. The “petals” are fleshy and come in colors such as gray, purple, red, green or a mix between these. You will notice that gray and white varieties can be covered in a chalky powder. The powder can be spotted or washed off when it rains, which is why it’s better to place a pergola above the plant.

7. Echeveria

This species is also native to the Americas. They give away some gorgeous rosettes that come in various colors: pink, white, green, gray or red. They present fleshy leaves of a green shade, sometimes mixed with gray.

8. Euphorbia

The euphorbia is also called spurge. There are over 1,000 species in this family. Some of the varieties look like cacti, others like a globe, while others can bring some strong accents in your garden. Perhaps the most famous euphorbia is the poinsettia. The latter can be grown into trees or shrubs if you live in a milder climate.

9. Graptopetalum

Coming from Mexico and the SW of the U.S., most of these species present fleshy white or gray rosettes. As opposed to other species of succulents, this one can survive a freeze and even revive after being exposed to -20 degrees. For your garden, you can use it as a ground cover. Alternatively, place it in rock gardens, over garden walls, in hanging planters, containers or on your rocky slopes.

Conclusion

Landscaping with succulents is one of the easiest choices you can make for your garden. They require little care and can survive without water for long periods of time. However, the part that is slightly most difficult is to arrange a beautiful design for them. The tips above can help you create a nice and organized structure. Moreover, you can also draw some inspiration for the types of plants you can use.

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Bonnie Enos
Bonnie Enos
I spend my time in my garden trying to create the greatest outdoor space possible. My garden is my happy place and where you will always find me on a nice day. I take my experience and share it here for you to read!