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Granite Or Gravel As The Ground Cover

Here in a Phoenix landscape design most landscapes use granite for the ground cover. Some people refer to it as gravel hence the title but the material itself is actually granite. In other areas of the country mulch, wood chips and plain old exposed dirt is the ground cover of choice.

It still surprises me when doing a Phoenix landscape design for someone new to the area, when they want to use wood chips, mulch or some other ground cover they are familiar with. I then need to explain the problems the ground covers they are suggesting will cause. Wood chips are filet migon to scorpions. I never really need to elaborate much on that one. It’s funny here in Arizona it’s not whether or not you have termites but when you are going to get them.

Mulch falls into a similar category to the wood chips. Mulch has both twigs and wood chips in it.

I was at one home where the homeowner used broken up bales of hay
as the ground cover for their jungle gym, other times I have seen old carpet. All I could think was sure it’s a soft landing, but what was living under there? People are surprised when I point out that rubber chips, rubber padding or artificial turf is a netter choice in a Phoenix landscape design. They are surprised but only because they didn’t think of it and it seems to make so much sense. I not only look at the practicality of the solution but the ascetics also when preparing a Phoenix landscape design.

I have been to many homes where there is nothing in the yard except dirt. For this reason I am always surprised when someone wants to have just dirt as the ground cover. I realize they are envisioning this rich black loam acting as a blanket for the plants in their Phoenix landscape design and not our 1/4″ minus. This is not a reality. In my mind I see all this dirt being blown around during our monsoons or even just a windy day. Imagine how much of this dirt would make it into your house.

Let me hit the most common ground cover for a Phoenix landscape design directly. The smaller the granite or gravel the quicker you will need to top dress it. This means adding more. “Code” for depth of granite is 2″ deep.

I have 1/8″ washed for my backyard. I like the look but I don’t like the tiny pieces of rock that attach to my sneakers and make their way onto the house. Washed means all pieces are sized at 1/8″.
When you hear the terms 1/4″, 1/2″ or 3/4″ minus means that the material is that larger size and smaller. If you see the term “sized” used think of it as you are buying that size.

I am preparing a Phoenix landscape design now where the homeowner does not want to use granite or gravel. There are no children or pets so I am not thinking artificial turf or rubber as a ground cover.

I have a few thoughts; one is a “Cobble Look” which is sort of a Rip Rap Minus. Another is Mexican Beech pebble. I could use River Rock but it just seems so 70′s to me. Another possibility is turf between pavers, however this can become expensive. I could also go with plant material as the sole ground cover in a Phoenix landscape design. However, this to me can seem kind of boring.

One other I thought of was using annuals. This would mean mixing about four inches of potting soil into the earth. You would need to do a total inventory every three to four months. This would not be very costly. The ongoing maintenance would be increased and the cost of the materials would be buying six packs of annuals. It would make for an exceptional Phoenix landscape design. Imagine have some roses or agave added to the mix. If you added elevation changes to this concept you start to develop an over the top Phoenix landscape design. This would also allow you to create smaller color pockets that you could concentrate on rather than just a singular scene. Now I am excited about seeing this through as a Phoenix landscape design.


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