A large privacy hedge of Bissett's bamboo, Phyllostachys bissettii, occupied the site for several years, helping to screen out an unsightly and poorly maintained apartment building slightly uphill and across the street. Originally the bamboo was planted and contained on a small berm, but it eventually escaped and I no longer had time to properly police it. Reworking the space will cut down on bamboo maintenance as well as providing one last new place to fill with interesting plants.
The bamboo before removal. Scale is hard to judge here, but the bamboo ranges from 8' (2.5m) on the left to over 20' (8m) on the right:
Here is the site after bamboo removal but before some shrubs were relocated, including a Lonicera nitida 'Baggensen's Gold,' Fatsia japonica, and a few potted plants. The broken concrete on the right will be recycled and used as a retaining wall to support and contain the new garden space:
Free fill dirt. It has a high clay content and so will need to be amended, but the price was right. It will also compress less than topsoil would, and has the lower fertility the new plantings will prefer. I will reshape it into a berm for the xeric shrub border:
The plan is to fill the space with evergreen, drought-tolerant shrubs which will eventually grown large enough to offer some of the privacy and screening provided by the bamboo. I put together an idea board with some of the main planned plants in roughly the relative positions they will have after planting in order to get an idea how the different foliate sizes, colors, and textures would work together. Plants include Grevillea victoriae 'Marshall Olbricht,' Olearia lineata 'Dartonii,' Pittosporum heterophyllum, Fremontodendron 'California Glory,' Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. debeuzevillei, Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata, Laurus nobilis 'Monem,' Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy,' Buddleja loricata, and Eriobotrya japonica:
Planting diagram with the street (south) at the top of the picture. (It has been rainy for several days and I didn't want to work the clay soil while it was waterlogged, so I have had some time to think about this - maybe too much time!)
Weather permitting, the next phase will involve building retaining walls around the berm, amending the soil, and ensuring proper drainage. After that comes planting and mulching. Something to look forward to despite it being the off season for most gardening activities.