I have a long driveway on the South side of my home that does not have a water source that is convenient. When we first moved into the house it was painted a faded khaki color and so it blended into the gray of the pavement and had no curb appeal whatsoever. I took a huge leap and painted the house green with a darker green accent color and an off white for the trim. This would not normally be a leap for me except in this neighborhood the most adventurous color on a house was mine with the khaki. As we were painting the neighbors began to drive by and walk by without comment. We do not have a neighborhood association so there were no written rules that I was breaking. I am a painter by trade and so normally I get a rash of compliments or at least comments when I paint something so I feared that I had pushed the neighborhood too far. Despite these thoughts I kept moving forward. I knew the green was just right for my house and it would definitely help my driveway to have more curb appeal.
We joke about our driveway being large enough to be a landing strip. It is about 154 feet long as well as the length you see in the picture.
You may be asking what this has to do with gardening and I am glad you asked. I knew that just paint was not enough to give this driveway the curb appeal it needed so badly. I knew there needed to be pots of plants to help bring a bit of color and softness to this hard scape area. So I began experimenting with different pots and plants.
This is a south facing area on pavement against a brick wall in Texas. There is a bit of shade from the overhang of the eaves of the house and this would also prevent it from receiving as much water from any rain. The water would have to come from a hose pulled through the garage every time I watered. I compounded the problem because I do not like to use the dish that holds water under my pots because they tend to breed too many mosquitoes. What in the world will grow under those kind of harsh conditions? I finally found some answers after a lot of trial and error.
I learned to cluster 3 or more pots together in areas like this because it helps the humidity level to be a bit higher and lessens the impact of the high levels of heat reflecting from the pavement and the brick on the house. If there is only 1 pot then it needs to be larger so that there is more plant material to help raise the humidity level. I also found that clay pots tend to dry out a bit too fast for a spot like this. I had much more success with plastic, foam and wood pots.
I used succulent type flowers like rose moss, portulaca, dew plant, ice plant, and some other plants such as celosia, pentas, and butterfly weed to give the pots some height. Bougainvillea and vinca are also good plants for this area. To give my driveway a punch of color, I used all terra cotta colored pots, and I used flowers that were hot pink, bright orange, and a tiny bit of yellow. I knew I had hit the winning combination for curb appeal when 1 year later I began receiving compliments on how nice my house looked. That was 2 years ago and this year I am still getting compliments from the neighbors. I have even had requests for help on paint colors for their homes.
Before summer is over the succulents will continue to fill the pots and the celosia will grow a bit taller and fuller.
To aid in water control I used Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil which has the water absorbing crystals in it. I also add pine cones as mulch on all my pots to help it look nicer. This helps with moisture and deters my cats from using my pots as their personal litter box or sleeping bed. I have found another unexpected reason for using pine cones in that they help to keep the potting soil from splashing around on the plants or out of the pot when I water. The greatest news is that I only have to water every other day even on the hottest of days (and it can get really hot here). I have been told that if I add some pot feet under my pots it will help even more by providing air circulation. I might give that a try.
This garden success was not a quick thing for me. I experimented with plants from the time I moved into the house and finally found the winning combination 2 years ago. I have learned that the difference between a green thumb and a black thumb gardener is simply that the green thumb doesn't give up. This is true for success in any area of life. Just do not give up. Every failure is another lesson that you get to benefit from. You learn so much from failures and every successful person will tell you this. If they do not then they are probably not being truthful.
Albert Einstein said, "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." He is touted as being a genius and the greatest thinker of the 20th century as well as the greatest physicist of all time. Did you know that he failed the entrance exam to the Swiss Institute of Technology? What is the lesson here? For me it is to keep trying new things and not to fear failure because with those failures I grow and learn.
That is true in the garden too. Many gardeners are successful with one plant or another because they kept on watering what looked to be dead or they tried it again in one spot or another. There are many plants that I have had to try many times until I found just the right spot and just the right amount of water.