Monday, September 17, 2007

Drive By

Several months ago, Matthew at ¡Ay Chihuahua! took a desert walk near his neighborhood. He brought along his camera so that his readers could see some of the flora he sees every day. Since then, other garden bloggers have provided a visual tour through their neighborhoods, pointing out the different landscape and housing styles of their areas. I really enjoyed reading those posts, so I thought I would do the same in my neighborhood.

My tour was done by car for two reasons. First, it's still too hot to walk. The properties are quite large and spread out so I would have a heat stroke before the end of the block. Second, there are no sidewalks in my neighborhood. In addition, I was nervous about blatantly taking photos of others' property--so I took the stealth approach and used the drive-by method.

I took photos that represent the prevailing architectural and landscape styles in the area. My neighborhood is new--only a few years old, so there are no towering trees, mature landscaping, or anything of historical significance.

This home is what I call faux Tuscan. It is typical of this popular style with its use of a rounded turret entry. Both the entry turret and pony-wall are faced with stone. The landscape is considered "desert landscaping" and it utilizes both artificial turf and granite. The house color is a common southwest color.

This home is considered a Southwest Traditional style with a pony-wall courtyard entry. The landscape ground cover is granite and rip-rap, another common feature in desert landscaping. The small blue-gray palm tree on the left is a Mexican Blue Palm.

This is another faux Tuscan with the rounded entry turret and clay tile roofing. It has a paver stone circular driveway. The landscape granite is a darker color to match the dark neutral color of the house. Notice the ubiquitous pony wall--something that is used extensively to create a modified front courtyard. The palm on the left is a Queen Palm, commonly used in the Phoenix area, but not really suited to this climate. These palms never really look good here. It's just too hot and dry for them.

This is a Southwest Contemporary with a high pony wall and courtyard entry. The circular driveway is decomposed granite that has been treated with a product that hardens it. The landscaping plantings are all native to the Sonoran desert.

The deciduous Chinese Elm shown here is another popular tree in the Phoenix area. It takes more water than the typical desert trees, but homeowners like it because it grows fast and can provide a tremendous amount of shade as it gets older. The house and landscape have all the elements that are common here; granite, riprap, courtyard pony-wall, stone facings, and iron entry gate.

This is my favorite. It is a combination Pueblo/Santa Fe/Southwest Ranch with a wood entry gate. It's a great example of well-balanced desert landscaping. This place also has artificial turf, which is being used more and more.

This home has two other elements that are very popular here, a rounded iron and glass entry door and a courtyard fountain.

Well, I got through the tour without anyone calling the police to report suspicious activity, and I think I've hidden any identifying elements that neighbors would find objectionable. Hope you saw something interesting.


Julie said...

WOW...those homes are so gorgeous!!! I particulatrly like the one that is your favorite! It seems so funny the idea of using artificial turf...and seeing all the rocks and gravel. I just adore that desert look. The Adobe house is my fav desert style home.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Thanks for the tour, I enjoyed it a lot. The area where you live looks very different from mine. In my country the main colour of the landscape is green thnaks to all the rain we're getting. But it is lovely to see how much can grow with little or no rain at all.

Today we are looking at houses and gardens on my blog too. We are going for walkies though, so wear comfortable shoes if you want to come too.

sisah said...

Thanks for that interesting tour around with all these fashionable houses. It is funny to see the false "tuscany style" is also popular in your country. Opposite of our (very simple old) house somebody built a new house in faux Tuscan, not as luxurious as the one in Arizona though...
I like the way the gardens are planned, it looks very stylish and tidy.

CG said...

Oh I love these houses! I like tjhe contemporary style the best.

Alice said...

I was interested to read that many gardens are using artificial turf. I think there's only a few gardens in this city where that has been used and it will be interesting to see how it lasts. We have cold, frosty winters and fairly hot summers, although not nearly as hot as yours.

What would your coldest winter temperatures be?

No Rain said...

Hi Alice,
Our average low temperatures are around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit, and we average not more than five days with temps at or below freezing. Last winter we had that rare fluke where the temperatures fell to 18 degrees F. for three nights in a row. That's what devastated so many gardens, including mine. Those rare events only happen about once every 20 years.
Artificial turf use is becoming widespread here as water conservation measures become paramount. Our water utility companies are providing rebates for those homeowners who convert from grass to artificial turf. I understand that artificial turf can withstand snow and freezing temperatures, but I don't know about prolonged, frozen ground areas.

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kate said...

This was a wonderful neighbourhood tour. All the houses are so big and opulent looking to me.I like the different styles, quite different from what we see here. Those turrets look somewhat odd to me ... I'd be expecting medieval knights to come riding out on horseback or something.

The vegetation is interesting and I am curious about the artificial turf. At least it wears well and requires no maintenance ... and one could always play football on it!!!

No Rain said...

Hi Kate,
I agree about the Tuscan style with those turrets. This style has been really popular here for about seven years now, along with Tuscan furniture and all the accessories. It's not my favorite. The house next door and across the street are both Tuscan, as well as six others on my street and the next, so I have to look at them daily. At least the houses around here are big, which mitigates the effect somewhat.