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Southern California Gardening: Add Texture to Your Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Adding texture to a garden can help improve its curb appeal. Lowe’s Southern California garden contributor shows how.

grasses on terrace
A cypress meshes well with its companions.

By Bonnie Manion

Texture adds interest to a garden by drawing your eye. For instance, as a focal point to the entrance of my property, I have added many different types of plants with texture and in complementary purple, bronzy and green. View the video.

New Zealand myrtle (Lophomyrtus ralphii x ‘Lilliput’), a small shrub that reaches 2 to 3 feet, features bronzy foliage and a touch of green. This compact shrub keeps a 'Tiny Tower' cypress company.

'Tiny Tower' cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is a dense, blue-green evergreen with tight foliage and a pointed, upright shape. ‘Tiny Tower’ is a slow-growing cypress and appears demure, but it can reach 30 feet at maturity. 

Next to the cypress is a large, 4-ft purple fountain grass (Pennisetum). This beautiful ornamental mounding grass blooms late summer into fall, adding movement and interest. It is especially striking when backlit by sunlight.

A large purple potato shrub (Lycianthes rantonetti) adds height and a splash of color to this garden spot. I leave it in a free-form shape to help conceal a necessary utility pole. You can train these versatile shrubs, which bloom from spring to late fall, into many shapes.

Just past my graceful purple potato shrub is a hedge of purple hop shrubs (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’). This is a great hedge to grow in Southern California, as it is drought-tolerant and prefers sun. Purple hop shrubs have narrow bronze leaves that turn a slight purple in cooler weather. Purple hop shrubs can reach 12 to 16 feet tall.

Here is another striking example of texture in the garden. This landscape emphasizes textures, line and color.

Bold, linear flowerbeds repeat ornamental pink and white grasses, with contrasting horsetail (Equiseteum) in the top flowerbed.

Grasses on a terrace help emphasize texture, line and color.

You can choose from many varieties of ornamental grasses that add color, texture and accent, and can even act as screens in a garden. Most grasses are low maintenance and very appealing to the eye.

Horsetail is a dramatic, upright, reedlike perennial that prefers to be moist. It makes for a very interesting modern hedge. It can be invasive, so plant it in a controlled flowerbed.