Garden Photo of the Day

A Succulent Bed in Florida Comes to Life

Putting together a creative new planting

Raised round garden beds filled with mature succulents

Today’s photos are from Joyce Laubach.

I am a Florida Master Gardener, gardening at my own home and as an active community volunteer in Punta Gorda, located on the Gulf Coast in southwestern Florida. My last submission to the GPOD (Planting a Public Garden in Florida) described the creation of a succulent bed in our city’s Nature Park, where the succulents joined over 20 themed garden beds designed to delight visitors and inspire creation of Florida Friendly landscapes.

Encouraged by positive feedback, we decided to create a succulent space in the Punta Gorda History Park, where several historic homes have been relocated within the park setting. The park garden beds had already been significantly updated with an array of colorful plantings that are refreshed every winter thanks to the generosity of benefactor Alan Schulman and with the assistance of dozens of talented volunteer gardeners. The park is visited daily by people young and old who walk, garden in the community garden space, and attend the weekly farmers market.

I thought GPOD readers would appreciate seeing the step-by-step process by which the latest succulent creation took shape. Because of the wonderful drought tolerance of these tough plants, we were able to locate them in a section of the park without irrigation. To give this relatively small space a real presence, we knew we wanted to create tiered height.

sump pump barrelsWe started with these large, sturdy sump pump barrels.

Two men slicing a plastic barrel into ringsVolunteer John Iredale used power tools to cut the barrels into slices of various heights.

Black pastic rings arranged to make a layered garden bedJohn, Alan, and I designed the arrangement.

Two men painting black plastic rings with glue and covering them with sandThe next step was to make sure the barrel surfaces blended in and looked like planters. First, we painted them with glue.

Rings set in the ground covered with sand and painted to resemble stoneThen we literally threw sand against the surfaces to create texture. Our final step was to spray-paint them after the glued sand had set.

Garden bed made out of circles of different heights filled with soilWe then reassembled the circles on the ground and filled them with a custom mix of garden soil, perlite, and pea gravel—the type of well-draining substrate that succulents need.

Round raised beds planted with a variety of succulent plantsThe fun part for me was seeing this bare design come to life with a fairly wide variety of succulents. Plants include desert rose (Adenium obesum), Agave ‘Ivory Curls’, Agave lopanthe ‘Quadricolor’, Agave ‘Blue Glow’, Mangave ‘Indian Princess’, Kalanchoe luciae, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, Echeveria ‘Afterglow’, Echeveria ‘Autumn Glow’, an unidentified ruffled Echeveria hybrid, Senecio mandraliscae, various Aloe hybrids, Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’, Sedum ‘Angelina’, Sedum ‘California Sunset’, and Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’. Around the outside is vining Carpobrotus.

Raised round garden beds filled with mature succulentsOver the course of about five months, the plants have matured and knitted together. The planter space is accented by a ring of native coral stone and top-dressed with several types of decorative gravel. Even though our rainy season has begun, the good drainage has allowed our plants to continue to thrive, to the point that we have begun a new outer ring of plantings that will eventually grow taller and accent the perimeter of the inner original design.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    simplesue 07/01/2021

    That's a nice way to plant succulents with the various heights of circles.
    The project turned out quite well- nice design!

  2. sandyprowse 07/01/2021

    Well done, so much thought went into the project and it worked out beautifully. You must be thrilled! It is a true work of art.

  3. gardendevas 07/01/2021

    Wow, what a fun project!

  4. Rebeccazone7 07/01/2021

    Great seeing the project from beginning to end. Sometimes I see the end and have a hard time visualizing how it all came together. It might be relatively easy to recreate a similar area using perennials using any kind of different size buckets. Thanks for the ideas...great job.

  5. User avater
    user-7007816 07/01/2021

    Great job guys!

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/01/2021

    How very original. Love how the barrels were used.

  7. btucker9675 07/01/2021

    Love this and am planning to steal your idea... Especially the coating with glue and then sand - just fabulous! The plants look very happy and healthy.

  8. sheila_schultz 07/01/2021

    Brilliant idea with so much potential for color. The sand technique is excellent, but for those that like color, the possibilities are endless! Thank you for the step by step process.

  9. bsavage 07/02/2021

    Love it!

  10. user-5117752 07/02/2021

    Just fabulous!!!

  11. RealMe 07/08/2021

    Thanks for the ideas. It might be relatively easy to recreate a similar area using perennials using any kind of different size buckets. --- Kitchen Remodeling Contractor

  12. Karenlove000 09/17/2021

    I really like gardening. thanks for the easy idea. I will try this soon! Apply Rite

  13. Karenlove000 10/25/2021

    This site is really great!
    done here

  14. Jayden45 10/27/2021

    There something special in this site that makes me want to click and read more.

  15. AnnaSmith 07/12/2022

    Wow! This is awesome. I love succulents.

  16. BreanaM 08/22/2022

    Thank you for sharing this great article here.

  17. AmberSmith 08/30/2022

    Nice article, my grandma will be interested in reading it too. Thanks.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest