My mother is a self proclaimed “black thumb” and has a never-ending battle with weeds in her yard. One large section in particular used to house two dwarf cherry trees, which she eventually gave to Jay and I for use in our landscape. The spot has sat bare for a couple years now and the battle with weeds raged on.

I finally convinced her that if she planted something in the space, it may help with the weed problem. Open spaces equals an open invitation for weeds to go crazy. She agreed to pay for the plants if I designed the space. She generally shys away from fruiting plants, loves grasses, enjoys watching hummingbirds visit her bird feeders, and would benefit from drought-tolerant plants. Although we are in the middle of moving to Eugene, I couldn’t turn down such a fun project.

I began by scouting out ideal plants at my local nursery. She didn’t want to spend more than $200, so I needed to ensure the plants were thrifty and practical. Here is what I selected and why:

  • Ceramic birdbath – on back order from the nursery, this cobalt blue bird bath will create a focal point area and bring in more birds to her backyard, which she really enjoys watching from her back windows
  • Lavender – I choose a variegated variety planted around the birdbath. They will provide long-lasting blossoms throughout the summer, bees love lavender, they are evergreen, and they are also drought-tolerant
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)- yellow and pink flowers bloom from May-August in our zone and are a favorite with hummingbirds. They are very low-maintenance plants, which can be divided in the fall and replanted for more spring lilies
  • Festuca Glauca “Elijah’s Blue” – this is an evergreen, blueish-grey grass that is drought-tolerant. It is also fairly low growing, so it won’t block her view of the retaining wall
  • Moor grass – I choose a variegated dark green and white variety for added interest. This evergreen grass requires very little maintenance.
  • Blueberry “Sunshine Blue” – this is an evergreen blueberry bush! It only grows about 3′ tall and will provide my mom a few berries to add to cereal, and berries to share with local birds
  • Euphorbia “First Blush” – this variety has lovely pink edging to the leaves, is an evergreen and is also drought-tolerant. The addition of this plant adds a nice texture to the landscape.
  • Crocosmia – these bulbs require little to no maintenance, but lovely red flowers emerge every summer, which are favored by hummingbirds

There were a few other plants that didn’t make the final cut, but in the end my mom has a landscape she doesn’t need to maintain. After the first year, her plants should become drought-tolerant and not require additional watering. Next Spring I would like to add in some flowering ground covers and perhaps some additional perrennial flowers. This was a great start though and we only ended up spending $150 on the plants, plus the birdbath which was my gift to her (currently the glass jug is a placeholder until the birdbath arrives).

I will try to take pictures this Fall when things have grown in more, but I am really pleased with the turnout. Everyone can enjoy beautiful landscapes – you just need to find the one that fits your needs. In this case, it’s low-maintenance, she gets flowers and birds, and maybe even some blueberries next summer.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson