Valley News -

By Lucette Moramarco
Associate Editor 

Landscaping with rocks takes some imagination


Last updated 8/30/2018 at 5:44pm


The Wilsons' landscaping designs includes a rock and brick path leading out to an arbor and a horseshoe pit.

Editor's note: Any residents who would like to share their garden or landscaping projects with Valley News readers can email their information and photos to [email protected] for consideration.

Considering the chronic shortage of water in Southern California, many homeowners decide to replace their water-hungry green landscaping with hardscaping – rocks and gravel. While the results may sound boring, it doesn't have to be.

Fallbrook residents Greg and Debbie Wilson came up with a solution that keeps watering to a minimum but provides plenty of color and interest.

In 2010, the Wilsons bought a house on a 1 acre lot in the southern part of Fallbrook. It had no landscaping except for elephant grass on the slopes to hold the hillside in place, giving them a blank slate with which to work.

They wanted to keep the cost of installing landscaping down, so they decided on a do-it-yourself project. Greg Wilson installed the irrigation system and worked with Debbie Wilson to create the design. 

"Keeping the cost of watering in mind for a yard this size, we decided to incorporate a fair amount of decorative rock into our design," Greg Wilson said. "While the cost of rock is a considerable expense, it gives the yard a finished look, does not require water and is fireproof." 

To add interest, they decided to use geometrical shapes when laying out the rocks. They did plant some myoporum, a low-growing evergreen plant, as a ground cover for an area in front of the house. They also used various types of ice plant to add color and a large variety of succulents and tropical plants for shapes, colors and texture. 

The variety of trees in the landscaping included olive, jacaranda, cassia, podocarpus, ornamental plum and crepe myrtle trees for shade, interest and color.  The Wilsons also planted a few fruit trees and a few avocado trees, which are typical for Fallbrook

Their most recent project included additional decorative rock with a black rock path leading down to the vegetable garden and macadamia nut trees. 

"To give it an artistic flair, we decided to try our hands at a mosaic project. We made a 9-foot long mosaic gecko with 3/8-inch and 7/8-inch glass tiles," Debbie Wilson said. "We had not attempted any mosaic projects before this, so we watched YouTube videos and found information on the internet to learn how to make a mosaic. It was quite a process."

First, they found an image of a gecko on the internet and converted it to a computer-aided design which was enlarged to 9 feet in length.

"We printed the drawing (about 20 pages) and then put the puzzle together to make one large pattern," Debbie Wilson said. "We placed the pattern on the dirt and outlined it with landscape paint. We dug a hole about 8 inches deep and added rebar for strength."

She added that they "got a little overzealous with our digging as it took 16 80-pound bags of cement to fill the hole."

The cement formed the foundation for the mosaic. Next, they applied the tiles in a base of thinset, added charcoal gray grout and finished the mosaic with a sealer.


The 9-foot long mosaic gecko is made of glass tiles set on a concrete base.

For year-round color, they planted 30 bougainvillea and eight plumbagos around the perimeter of the property. To enjoy the yard in the evenings, Greg Wilson built a wooden structure that holds three solar lanterns that light up at dusk and stay lit until dawn. He also installed yard lighting when they first began their landscaping project and more recently added some solar accent lights.

To complete the look of the property, they also installed a driveway gate, but whether they are completely done with their landscaping projects is undecided.

"We have always enjoyed gardening and it has been really fun to see the yard evolve over the past eight years. Every time we finish a project we think we are 'done,' but then our imaginations get the better of us and we come up with one more idea," Debbie Wilson said.

Lucette Moramarco can be reached by email at [email protected]


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