For proof that inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places, just look at the Venice front yard of Steve Morris, a colorful landscape that was influenced by the grounds of the Brentwood School.
“When I saw the landscaping at the school in 2010, I was reminded that you can have a garden that is visually pretty and saves water, too,” Morris says.
Impressed by the school’s low-water makeover — landscape and irrigation consultant Jerry Budnick removed 5.9 acres of turf at the school and replaced it with drought-tolerant plants — Morris contacted Budnick to help him rethink his front yard.
“I was concerned with water conservation and decided to do a complete makeover,” says Morris, who spent about $10,000 on the new yard including design, materials and labor. (He also received a $600 water rebate from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power).
Budnick kept the mango tree and removed all else including fescue grass, horsetail plants and bamboo. Morris would later install artificial turf on the parking strip.
He then inserted a drip irrigation system, low-voltage lighting and a weed barrier composed of newspaper and cardboard.
Mexican beige pebbles and Malibu landscape boulders came next, followed by aloes, succulents, Beaucarnea recurvata, ocotillo and camellia.
Morris says he has grown to love the small but dynamic landscape.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to see how the landscape changes,” Morris says of the plant palette, which includes Echeveria Afterglow and Gibbiflora, Sticks on Fire, Aloe Brevifolia and Kalancha Thyrsifolia. “You never know when something is going to bloom. When the ocotillo is flowering, it’s like a moving picture.”
Adds Budnick: “People have a relationship with plants. I fall in love with plants all the time and try not to covet them. When I walk the grounds at Brentwood I think, ‘I knew you when you were little.’”