This Southern California resident wanted to keep her citrus trees but remove the grass for a more water-conservation, low-maintenance backyard that still produced healthy and delicious fruit.  A cleaner and renovated look.

Before and after of renovated California backyard orchard.

We started out with a backyard mix of orange and lemon trees in boxed spaces surrounded by grass.

The grass had become very thatchy (layers of dead and living grass), and both the trees and the grass was being watered with old-fashioned sprinkler heads.  This is not a good combination because the trees need far more deep watering than the grass, while the grass needs more regular watering.

The boxed areas with the trees had also become an eyesore.  The resident wanted to keep the trees but have better water use and an overall low-maintenance backyard.

The first step was to remove the grass and thatch by hand and to level out the area in both the center of the surrounding walkway and also the sides.  A big job!  But look how nice it looks already.  A clean start.

Additionally, bender board was installed for the new shapes around the trees as part of the design and for tree wells.  Also, drip irrigation was also installed so that the trees would receive the needed deep watering using a more effective water conservation method.

Grass is all cleared for the California backyard orchard.

Decomposed granite was used to fill in the non-plant areas, while premium bark mulch offered a decorative contrast in the tree wells and some corner planters.

Decomposed granite and premium bark mulch in the California backyard orchard.

The automatic individual drip emitters make for almost zero water maintenance and the needed deep watering for the trees and plants.  Deep watering like this drives the roots deeper where the soil is more moist, creating a more drought tolerant landscape.  It’s also healthier for the plant to have a deeper root system.

Automatic drip irrigation in California backyard orchard.

In keeping with the new design, additional planters were created to offer color, variety, and a tranquil curving of what was previously a boxy shape.  Flax, lavender, and senecio were some of the installed plants — all on an automatic drip irrigation system.

Curved planter in drought tolerant landscape.

The final product is a beautifully clean and easy-to-maintain backyard orchard.  As the new planters and trees mature, they will fill in the space more.  And the decomposed granite areas will serve as important walkway areas for picking fruit at the ground level or with ladders.  Patio furniture could also be added in the center with some succulent pots.

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Drought tolerant California backyard orchard design.