Wilder Landscape Architects is proud to have its headquarters recognized as the first Tucson Audubon Habitat at Home site. The landscape is constantly evolving to keep up with the maturing plants and knowledge my husband and I have gained. The story starts with what was once a manicured yard (the transformation had already begun in the ‘before’ photo shown) – an even, well-groomed layer of rock, a single south American mesquite, a border of purple-heart. Neat, orderly, and utterly sterile.
I grew up on the east side of Tucson, and played in a yard and neighborhood that took its birds for granted. Cactus wrens, thrashers, Cooper and Harris Hawks, coveys of quail, vermillion flycatchers, the constant murmur of doves. My new mid-town residence was sadly lacking all of these. The only constants were mockingbirds and the occasional verdin and, of course, English sparrows and Rock doves (pigeons).
Flash forward a decade or two. Gambel’s quail, brown-crested flycatchers, curve-billed thrashers, and cardinals are consistent sights. A Phainopepla has shown up the last three springs to feast on wolfberries. This spring a pair of Abert’s towhees nested and successfully raised a baby in a wolfberry-ironwood thicket outside our bedroom window. There are warblers and vireos and birds we call skulkers that have so far evaded identification.
It’s our refuge, and has become a haven for a variety of wildlife. One plant at a time, small additions have blossomed into a desert jungle.
When you have more time than money, seeding can be an inexpensive way to establish an abundance of plant material without irrigation. The time factor is critical for several reasons: a person has to be patient as the seeds germinate with the rains (and sometimes the rains do not come when you hope), and one must be willing to spend time cultivating the desired mix of shrubs and trees that come up where they please (and not, perhaps, where you desire them).
That said, if you have time and patience, definitely consider seeding. Plants established from seed are robust (they establish themselves, rather than requiring weaning as nursery plants do), and the density of plant material is much greater than what would typically be achieved via planting. Depending on what seeds are included in your seed mix, the resulting landscape can be very dynamic - with different species dominating as the landscape matures.
At this home, seeding was used almost exclusively to vegetate the poolside landscape. In less than two years, bare dirt was transformed into a lush Sonoran Desert landscape.
The clients of this eastside home wanted to improve the overall appearance and functionality of their yard, while providing separate enclosures for their desert tortoises.
The landscape design established distinct zones within the yard: a flagstone patio flanked by seat walls provides an entertaining area; two fenced enclosures provide each tortoise with his/her own space; and a plant-screened area at the edge of the yard serves as a secluded seating area.
A variety of tortoise tempting plants such as desert senna, desert willow, globe mallow, sideoats grama, dalea, fairy duster and penstemon were used. Each tortoise area includes a concrete water hole, burrow, and is secured with steel fencing, the bottom 8” buried to protect against escape.
Wilder Landscape Architects designed a steel enclosure to protect an existing water softener from the sun, as well as to screen the appliance from view. The design, featuring a lesser long-nosed bat feeding on an agave flower (a primary food source for the bat along its migration route) stemmed from the clients love of the outdoors.
This three-bin compost system with soil-cement walls and decorative hinged gates was designed by Wilder Landscape Architects. Each compost bin has an original gate expressing the Owner’s passion for all things wild.