Gary Haygood > Landscape Architecture > Succulents > Grow a Succulent Garden in Your Side Yard

Grow a Succulent Garden in Your Side Yard

Jun 29, 2017 0 Blog, Curb Appeal, Garden, Green, Home Improvements, Improvements, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Staging, Succulents , ,

Although you and your family may not spend as much time along the side yard as you do in the back, that part of your property may be noticeable from the street – and how it’s viewed is a reflection on you and your tastes. And if that’s not enough to get you caring about the state of your side yard, remember these two little words: curb appeal. Real estate agents are especially attentive to this term, as well as what it means for their clients. And rightfully so, because “curb appeal” is at the top of the list when it comes to what homebuyers look for in a landscape.

Succulent plants are generally fleshy plants that are able to store water in their leaves (such as cacti and aloe). Succulents are easy-care plants that require little maintenance besides weeding. Some varieties grow as large as trees, but for small side yards look for succulents that stay small. Succulents have two main growing conditions, good-draining soil and plenty of sunshine. Planting succulents in a small side yard creates a garden full of interest, texture and color. A succulent plant has a thick, often waxy (or hairy or thorny) “skin” over a juicy, fleshy interior. Virtually all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.

Creating a succulent planting bed is a great option for the busy home gardener. Not only do succulents offer unique interest with their unusual foliage and incredible textures, they’re naturally drought-tolerant beauties that won’t mind being ignored from time to time if given the proper growing conditions. What’s more, you don’t need to live in the desert or semi-arid regions to grow them! Given the wide variety of succulents available today, there are at least a few that will work for you and your location, no matter where you live.

Succulents need full sun – preferably 6-8 hours of direct, unfiltered light a day. They also need outstanding drainage. (Many adore poor, sandy, gravelly soil.) Many selections flower but don’t require deadheading. In fact, some – like sedums – look wonderful with their dried flower heads left on all winter.

Fertilizer needs are minimal for succulents. Just work in a good, all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer (or plenty of compost) into the soil around the plant each spring.


Accent plants provide vertical elements in a succulent garden consisting of of shorter plants. Use taller succulents to attract the eye to the yard.

  • Blue beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata) produces a thick trunk covered in bark topped with bluish-green leaves in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10. This very slow growing succulent reaches 6 to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide with white summer flowers. Keep this succulent trimmed back to control its size.
  • “Golden Sword” yucca (Yucca filamentosa “Golden Sword”) grows yellow leaves striped with green color in USDA zones 4 through 9, with white spring flowers on spikes reaching 4 to 6 feet tall. This yucca forms clumps 3 to 4 feet tall spreading 5 feet wide.
  • “Ray of Light” variegated fox tail agave (Agave attenuate “Ray of Light”) grows to 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide, with tall yellow flower stalks appearing on mature plants in USDA zones 9 through 11. The wide green leaves with white stripes form rosettes at ground level. If your side yard is very small, use shorter accent plants.

dramatic colors

Dramatic colors add splashes of unexpected color to the side yard when planted in small groups.

  • “Desert Rose” paddle plants (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora “Desert Rose”) grow round blue-green leaves edged in red with clusters of yellow tubular-shaped flowers in mid-spring. In USDA zones 9 through 11, this succulent reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
  • “Zwartkop” purple crest aeonium (Aeonium manriqueorum “Zwartkop”), USDA zones 9 through 11, produce 3- to 4-foot long stems with large dark purple rosettes spreading 2 to 3 feet wide. Yellow star-shaped flowers appear from late spring through early summer.
  • Other colorful succulents to use include Tip Top aeonium (Aeonium arborescens Tip Top) and “Macho Mocha” mangave (x Mangave “Macho Mocha”).

ground covers

Ground cover succulents quickly cover bare patches of ground and need only a small amount of water to produce year-round color.

  • Blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens) grow in USDA zones 10 and 11 producing a low-growing carpet of powdery blue-green leaves 12 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide.
  • “Campfire” crassula (Crassula capitella “Campfire”) reaches only 6 inches tall and form mats of light green to bright red leaves 24 to 36 inches wide. In USDA zones 9 and 10, fragrant white flowers emerge in summer.
  • “Hallmark” orange stalked bulbine (Bulbine frutescens “Hallmark”) reach 12 to 24 inches tall in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 11 spreading 36 inches wide with narrow green leaves and orange spring flowers.


Tuck-ins are smaller succulents that are added around stepping stones and other groups of succulents. These plants usually are planted singly or in small groups.

  • Retro Succulents Carmine aloe (Aloe hybrid) produce pale green leaves with orange speckles and edges. This succulent grows slowly in USDA zones 9 to 11 reaching 8 to 10 inches tall and wide.
  • Tiny buttons stonecrop (Sedum hispanicum) grows an inch tall and spreads 6 inches wide in USDA zones 2 through 9 with blue-green leaves that turn reddish when the weather turns cold.
  • Other succulents to tuck into small areas includes Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginea), Retro Succulents Red Glo echeveria (Echeveria x hybrid Red Glo), “Lipstick” echeveria (Echeveria agavoides “Lipstick”) and blue rose echeveria (Echeveria imbricata).

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