Succulent Garden Design

Fill your yard with the eye-catching beauty of succulents. Count on these easy-care plants for a stunning landscape.

Mexican Succulent

Mexican Succulent

Plush plant (Echeveria pulvinata) is a Mexican succulent forming rosettes of fleshy, slightly hairy, green-gray leaves with red tips.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Indulge in beauty without big maintenance requirements by creating a succulent garden design. These water-wise plants boast a wide range of leaf colors and forms, from common cacti to lesser known Graptoveria hybrids. Succulent garden designs bring drama to any setting, with their unusual plant forms. Crafting a succulent garden design is akin to creating living sculpture.

Succulents possess modified leaves designed to conserve water. These leaf adaptations result in striking plant textures. Water-conserving leaves vary from leafless cactus spines, to fat and fleshy water-hoarding paddles, to pudgy beads or fingers. Many succulents form a rosette of foliage, which makes an unusual textural addition to a garden.

Hen-and-chickens (Sempervivum tectorum) and Spanish bayonet (Yucca filamentosa) are two of the most well-known landscape succulents across all regions. Their leaf shapes and plant forms reflect the variety you can find in succulents, from small toe-tickling rosettes to shoulder-high mounds.

One of the most effective ways to create a succulent garden design is to blend these quirky plants with rocks. Succulents and stones go together like peanut butter and jelly. Showcase succulents against a backdrop of rocks, or tuck them between and behind rocks. If stones have shallow depressions that hold soil, tuck succulents into that spot for a head-turning planting. Use rock mulch in succulent garden designs to retain heat around plants and enhance drainage.

Succulents demand well-drained soil. The quickest way to kill a succulent is to plant it where soil stays soggy in winter. Add berms and mounds to your succulent garden design to provide the drainage these plants crave. Use stones to help build elevation into your landscape, and you’ll instantly have a natural-looking setting for succulents.

These water-storing plants come in a variety of sizes, from tiny plants best showcased in containers to showstopping large-scale beauties that can easily form a focal point in a planting bed. Select succulents with a size that’s in scale with your garden space. You’ll purchase most of the larger plants at smaller, affordable sizes, so make sure you plan your succulent garden design with mature plant sizes in mind.

A beautiful and goof-proof way to spotlight succulents is to surround a larger, anchor plant, such as a large agave or barrel cactus, with smaller succulents, such as ground cover blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens) or Echeverias. You can also paint a landscape using ground-hugging succulents that unfurl leaves in various hues, like Sempervivums.

Include container gardens in your succulent garden design. Containers provide the perfect space for showcasing some of the smallest succulents, many of which have outstanding foliage color or texture. If you garden in a region where succulents cannot be left outdoors year-round, choose containers that are easily shifted to protected or indoor overwintering locations. Succulents pair very naturally with the stone look of hypertufa pots.

Research any succulents you plan to add to your garden. Not all of them thrive in full sun, especially in Southwestern regions. Many, including Haworthias, Echeverias and Kalanchoes achieve best growth in bright shade and may actually burn in full sun. Check with a local succulent nursery to discover the best choices for your yard.