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I have recently moved into a quaint (aka needs a lot of work) home in the Los Angeles area.  I have little gardening experience.  The exterior of the home was not taken of and I have stripped out a lot of dying/dead plants and have essentially a blank canvas in which to work with.  I find myself going to the nursery but I get scared to pull the trigger on purchases having  little experience in this world.  So I am asking for help.  What would you plant in these areas?

Front door:

I tore out some grotesque shrub and have hidden the dirt with planters.  I could leave the planters or remove them.  The soil here is very compact, theres not a lot of area and there are pipes and such not that far underneath the soil.  

Front door to the right:

I put in that mexican feather grass and planted roughly 300 bulbs throughout the bed (which you can see sprouting a little).  I have room to plant a small amount next to the feather grass.  

Front of house:

There were two shrubs like the one on the left in the planter.  I ripped both of them out.  The shrub I left wass the smallest of the three.  The planter that is attached to the house is not that wide (1 ft) and not that deep (1 ftish).  There's a trellis which you could grow something up.  I could also rip out the two remaining shrub things.  I have no idea what to plant here.

Side of the house:

I built this above ground planter and planted about 500 bulbs in it.  I was thinking of waiting until they bloom and then planting annuals around the flowers once they bloom.

Back of the house:

I ripped out what was in this area.  Its like 1.5 feet wide, not real deep.  I don't know what to plant back here and have toyed with possibly doing a vegatable garden although I have never maintained one.  That shrub thing to the right of the area I may pull out too or may just leave it.  I don't really like it but it wasn't quite as bad as some of the other stuff that I took out.  

Thanks for reading and any help is greatly appreciated.  I will post after photos as well.


It would be helpful to know what you didn't like about the plants you took out, so we know what to avoid 


A lot of your beds/borders are rectangular, what about adding curves that would widen your beds. Planters by the door look like a great idea but you could go taller with the plants in the planters and maybe really cheerful colours. and I guess as it is so mild where you are. 

That bed by your pool is very narrow, perhaps you can widen it and reflect the curves of your pool. If that is not possible then use big bold planters with big bold plants arranged to reflect the pool curves, still using the bed you have for maybe climbers. put the planters  up by the bed

I can't really say about actual plants as our climate is not the same.

What about getting hold of some good plant/garden books and some catalogues to help you.

PS swimming pool would be a dream, we just have large pools of water, waterlogged ground and floods in many places at moment. They are saying the wettest year for a hundred years!


I would go for lots of Lavenders and Rosemary, they will love your conditions, they smell great and will require limited maintenance.

If you want high impact colour and are prepared to put in a little work Dahlias would be wonderful.

This is wonderful!  Thanks so much for your responses they are very helpful.  @Dovefromabove  I took out a lot of ill-maintained shrubs.  I wanted a least a little color in the garden and the freedom to plant some flowers.  @New Year  I will look at climbers that grow well in my area I think that's a great idea.  @Kate  Thank you for your specificity I will take a look at the ones you recommend.  Great ideas, thank you very much!


We've recently taken over a new garden, which was 'low maintenance'- I'm planning to put in a lot of colourful annuals such as marigolds and sunflowers next year, while the rest of the planting is planned/built up. That could give you time to think and work out what works.

I also love lavendar and rosemary. All mediterranean herbs are useful, pretty low maintenance and great for wildlife. Over time herbs like oregano and marjoram can spread and provide good ground cover.


Before you plant too much make sure the soil is in good condition re: compost, fertiliser. Your climate in Florida must be much milder than in the UK. Do you have frosts, I don't think so. If not, then you can plant all sorts of things that  readers here can't.  I agree with climbers and big planters, but could you go for colourful exotic plants like Bouganvilla, Hibiscus, Oleanders, Lantana, Plumbago and Solanum? Do you have a local garden centre? See what your neighbours have in their gardens.

In these winters planting roses will be the best option.

Roses can be easily plant in this weather.

flowering rose

I do not want grows in your area but it would look nice with some plants growing by your windows ,pyracantha,clematis,honeysuckle or a climbing rose,with small plants in between with a few in pots,even evergreens.I say this as a garden near me is wonderful all year round,yet it is a small narrow garden.The house is a bungalow.It has a green lawn and it has plants everywhere growing in harmony yet it gives the effect of being not only interesting but bigger than it is.But of course your in a very hot climate so I ll have to leave it at that.

Hi Lakerhater,

Not sure what grows in your area. The only experience I have of USA gardens is some friends in Colorado and looking at gardens in that region - Arizona, New Mexico, Utah. Saw some nice ones in Santa Fe, but I guess the best advice would be to look at what seems to grow well in other people's gardens - ask their advice and make friends! - and plant what you fancy. Don't commit yourself to too much irrigation.


Congratulations on your new home!

For the front door:  what about Pentas for the wall? I saw a house lined with this and it looked very nice. Dig some of the lawn on the right and line with very contrasting low mounding plants fitting the seasons, like Lobularia, Violas, Alyssum, Brachycombe, Linaria moroccana.

For the front of house: don´t pull out the shrub. Find a moderately growing climber (as the trellis is not tall enough) to provide a backdrop for the star-spangled banner: Mina lobata is fiery, Mandevilla is romantic, Bougainvillea is not a real climber but always stands out (with some proper tying) and is now available in many colours like pink, red, white, yellow and orange. Plant a flowering shrub to match the other (whatever it is...); find a contrasting colour to the climber: Coronilla for yellow, Justicia has red too, and Tibouchina has pink or purple flowers (see the following:


So I managed to make the little strip of dirt for when you walk in look a tad bit better.  The result is below.  I decided the area wasn't big enough to grow anything and the plants would probably just grow over the sidewalk.  I put down some landscaping fabric and covered it with rock asphalt.    I plan to take down the screens on the windows and put a windowsill box on each window and put some flowers in there.  The house needs a coat of paint and that green thing needs to go but thats for a different forum.  I am fairly pleased with the result, so thanks so much for your advice.

I also went to the nursery and actually bought stuff instead of just looking around and leaving.  Here's a picture of my stock:

I got 3 rosemary protrate, 1 cat scat, 1 scabiosa, 2 6 pack of linaria, 1 unknown and 1 curly willow tree (yes I got a curly willow tree, why I have no idea).  I got recommended rosemary prostrate as it will trail down the rock wall.  That seemed like a good idea and then to have flowers mixed into the bed.  I like the idea of planting a moderately growing climber behind it and will look into that.  I'm not sure that I will plant another shrub.  They seem so boring.  I have a few questions if youre not to busy to help a total noob, I would appreciate it. 

Here's where I am looking to plant:

First,  do I just plant the three rosemary's where I marked the red ice cream cones and then plant the flowers around it?  How much do I need to separate the flowers?

Two, is there anything I need to do to train the rosemary to trail down the wall?

Three, what type of soil mix would you recommend?

Four,  what type of daily/monthly/yearly care do I need to think about?

Finally,  What the heck am I going to do with this tree?  The planter in the second picture above is that too small to plant it in?  How big does the planter need to be?  I don't just plant it in the front yard right, I put it in a planter and put it by the pool out back?  What type of soil is required and any daily care I need to know about?

Anyway, I really appreciate you guys helping out someone with a million questions who doesn't have an eye for painting with the landscapers brush.


When you say "Dig some of the lawn on the right and line with very contrasting low mounding plants fitting the seasons, like Lobularia, Violas, Alyssum, Brachycombe, Linaria moroccana."  Do you mean right next to the sidewalk?  Line the sidewalk with these types of plants or are you referring to another area?

I also plan to get taller plants for contrast in the little strip area I did btw because I like that idea, but thats low on the priority list currently.


Rosemary Prostratus will fall down the wall by itself. It needs a fairly poor well drained soil, but it does like some moisture so you could add some grit if the soil is heavy and you will need to water it when it's dry. It will, after a few years spread out to about 3 or 4 feet sideways, so you could plant colourful annuals to fill the gaps each year. Annuals have a very long flowering season so although you have to do it every year it's worth it. Surfinias will also tumble over the wall and are like petunias. You buy annuals in the spring when the flowers are starting so you can see what they look like.

Have you looked at the plants you have bought on Google on the computer? You can learn quite a lot like that.


 Petunias and surfinias in my garden. The pink surfinias tumbled down the wall a bit later.

If you do plant flowering annuals between the rosemary they will need fertiliser and regular watering.


I´m not sure window boxes would be a nice pick for the front door area. The eyes may be misleading me, but I think there is something casting some shade over it; in this situation, the higher the plants the least daylight they have (but I may be wrong!). Plant something modest (as I said, or perennial phlox, that thrives in half-shade; as well as perennial salvia or perovskia), and it won´t be trouble. I meant the following (please forgive my poor imaging):




Here are some landscape design ideas that can help you imagine your landscape and select appropriate plants -


Thank you so much.  The imagery really helps to see what you are describing.  You are not wrong about the light that area gets.  I will definitely consider your suggestions. 


Your simple explanation and picture was extremely useful for a beginner like myself.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Oakley Witch

You guys have all made some lovely suggestions. I have no idea what would grow in your area larkehater but I would be putting lots of fragrant plants in. Lavender's would do well like Kate has suggested.You are soo lucky as you could grow so many exotic plants that I have seen in books and online where as they wouldnt even come out their seed packets here in Scotland lol. Im enjoying following this thread