When we built the large mounded succulent bed by the front door, we fully intended to top-dress it with rocks. It certainly would have been easy to do in the spring of 2009:
|Front yard succulent bed in April 2009|
However, thanks to inertia and indecision, we never got around it. In the meantime, the succulents we planted matured and the need for mulch decreased somewhat.
Still, there were uncovered patches here where the soil dried out very quickly.
|Same bed in May 2012|
In addition, bare dirt is not very exciting visually. Still, it’s amazing how long you are able to live with a situation until you final make that long-planned change.
|Before rocks, April 2012|
|Before rocks, April 2012|
|Before rocks, June 2012|
(Yes, that is another planter made from a hollowed-out pumice rock,
planted with an Agave polianthiflora)
A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I went to a rock yard in Sacramento to finally buy some rock mulch. However, the gravel mix I liked at the rock yard didn’t look good when we brought it home: too small and too rounded. It reminded me too much of what you’d find along the banks of a river, not in a desert environment. So I nixed the idea of putting it on the succulent bed and it will be used as top dressing for potted plants instead.
Last weekend, I finally found the rocks I wanted. Approximately 1½ inches in size and a fairly neutral color, with flecks of gold and black. The color was a compromise. My wife wanted a darker gray or brown and I wanted a lighter desert gold. What we finally settled on is called California Gold. This is a fairly good closeup although at a distance the color looks more like a light gray.
Here is the finished product:
|Succulent bed after top dressing with California Gold rocks|
I found it to be fairly difficult to set the correct color balance in these photos to show what California Gold looks like.
It is definitely a neutral color that allows the plants—after all, they are the stars of this area—to take center stage. The rock we got was very dusty so after a good rain shower (many months away for us) or a good hosing down the golds and tans will be more visible.
Now that we’ve finally gotten this area mulched, I’m thrilled with the results. The plants that grow toward the front and bottom of the mound where the soil dries out quite quickly are sure to be happy as well—especially as we’re heading into a spell of temperatures in the upper 90s.
P.S. I’ve noticed that many photos of rock and gravel products show the product when wet. What’s up with that? Isn’t the color when dry more important? It certainly is here in the Central Valley where our annual rainfall total is less than 20 inches and it doesn’t rain at all for six months out of the year.