Garden Photo of the Day

Tracy’s Dry Garden in California

Waterwise and beautiful

garden bed with different types of cacti

Hi! I’m Tracy, gardening in the East Bay, California, Zone 9b. I’ve done 100% of the planting here; the space behind the house was just a pile of mud when we moved in. Oh, the possibilities! The front garden was full of typical new housing plantings and grass, which I have completely removed.

strawberry tree in a sloped garden bedThe strawberry tree (Arbutus ‘Marina’, Zones 7–9) may have been the first thing I planted in the slope in the back.

sloped garden bed next to a poolBecause it is so very dry here, I recently did the entire slope as a dry garden. The plantings are all under a couple of years.

colorful planters full of succulentsDry gardens don’t need to be boring. Here, various succulents grow in colorful peacock planters.

garden path dividing two very different garden bedsThe dry garden is on the right, with wetter perennial gardens on the left. The tall bearded yucca (Yucca rostrata, Zones 7–10) makes a dramatic statement in the dry garden.

gravel garden full of succulents and cactusThe wide diversity of forms, colors, and shapes of succulents and cactus makes the dry garden endlessly interesting.

garden bed with different types of cactiA cluster of tall cactus makes a vertical element, contrasting with the round golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii, Zones 9–11).

dry garden bed next to poolThe dry garden runs down right to the pool.

small palm treesThis ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata, Zones 9–11) was a freebie from half a mile away that I spotted in a cracked pot. The owner gladly let me handtruck the ponytail palm away, and it is an excellent showstopper for the slope.

View down the slope, showing the wide range of succulents, including a couple more golden barrel cactus

cactus and succulents of various sizesA tall Aloe ‘Hercules’ (Zones 9–11) is another favorite. It will eventually grow to form almost a small tree.

Tracy sent so many great photos that we’ll return to her garden next week and explore her perennial beds.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 05/12/2022

    I love it, it’s beautiful, and thank you for conserving water!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you, it's still all very young. It has been a fun project, and lots of hauling rock lol!

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 05/12/2022

    A really fascinating garden taking advantage of your hot, dry environment and saving water.

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you!

  3. User avater
    musabasjoosue 05/12/2022

    Dry gardens are so cool! I love the plant diversity. It's so different than what I grow in CT.

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you! I do have some different banana varieties back there because I just can't help myself.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 05/12/2022

    That Ponytail Palm was a great find, it's going to thrive in your garden... I'd love to be able to grow one!
    The cluster of tall thin cacti is really eye catching, and I love that Bearded Yucca.
    And in your photo that mentions the Aloe ‘Hercules’...there are some really pretty and unique little creature-like succulents snuggled up to a rock- I just love those!
    This is a whole different world of gardening that I'm used to, it's just amazing to see what you've done here!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you! I think the little succulents you are mentioning are Crassula baby necklace. They were so tiny when I put them in I could barely handle them. They love being next to the rocks and have really taken off!

  5. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 05/12/2022

    Very interesting choices and in time, they will all mature and look marvelous. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you, I don't think the pictures quite show how long and large the slope is (my fault, not a great photographer)

    2. jos29803 05/12/2022

      Absolutely stunning!!!I love this. I agree a desert does not have to be boring. We've driven from the east coast to west coast and my favorite areas are NM, AZ & CA deserts. The colors are amazing, the shapes and plants are varied and the rock formations are astounding. GREAT JOB!!!!!👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

      1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

        Thank you so much!!!

  6. user-7392754 05/12/2022

    Spectacular!!! Very different from anything I’ve ever seen!!!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you! :)

  7. nicki_s 05/12/2022

    Thanks so much for sharing your unusual garden - it's fabulous!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you, I enjoy being unusual!

  8. sheila_schultz 05/12/2022

    You have done a fabulous job installing your dry gardens with a great assortment of low desert plants. Adjusting the eye from lush green gardens to desert plants takes time, I know since I have gone from lush green, flower filled IL gardens, to my high desert gardens in Denver to my final low desert gardens in Tucson. Saving water is critical in the western states and you have designed a great garden filled with a fun selection of shapes, sizes and textures that the amazing world of succulents can provide. Beautifully done!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Thank you Sheila! It is an adjustment, and I still have a love for perennial gardens FOREVER. I bet your Tucson garden is fabulous!

      1. sheila_schultz 05/12/2022

        Like all gardens, mine is a continual work in progress. That is the fun in gardening, don't you think? The added benefit is having the reason to need to keep going to the nurseries to see what else is necessary! Enjoy your beauties.

  9. btucker9675 05/12/2022

    Marvelous! This is a perfect example of making a garden that is perfectly suited to its environment. Your pool looks like a gleaming mirage in the desert. You are exceptionally talented!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      Wow, Thank you so much!

  10. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/12/2022

    I have never seen a Yucca rostrata. How unusual!

    1. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

      I love those stumpy guys!

  11. Tz_Garden 05/12/2022

    Hi! I'm Tracy, if you'd like to see other photos of my garden I'm @tz_garden on instagram. Tracy Rinella The front yard is also a no-grass space, but perennial instead of dry. I also "attempt" to grow bananas, mangos, tomatoes + herbs for my little bunny. She's helped me fertilize & mulch the entire place :)

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