August 4, 2022 · Filed Under Events and News 
This month’s award-winning yard at 2105 Carleton Avenue is a perfect example of what you can plant to withstand drought, unrelenting heat, and the scorching sun.

When Monika and Derrick Merchant bought the hopelessly dilapidated house next door to theirs in 2016, they initially planned to build a new home there. After demolition they decided to connect up the empty lot with theirs, resulting in an extra big yard for their kids to play in. But, what to do with the large empty space between the fence and the sidewalk?

Derrick didn’t want more grass to mow, so he turned to his brother Chad to help him put in a low maintenance xeriscape they now affectionately refer to as The Rock Garden. It helped that Chad, a trained horticulturalist, owns Merchant Landscaping Company.

First step was digging deep enough to put in a layer of weed barrier cloth, along with a drip line for the plants and bubblers for the trees. Together Monika and Derrick selected a variety of variegated yuccas and agaves, along with sotols, Mexican feather grass, Texas sage and lantana, and artfully arranged them around an Arizona Cypress and a Chitalpa tree, a cross between a desert willow and a catalpa. A generous top dress of large river rock from Whiz-Q Stone provided the final finishing touch.

Despite this summer’s punishing heat, The Rock Garden is abloom, courtesy of the red yuccas, the Chitalpa tree, and the recently purchased purple rose of Sharon at the northern end of the property.

The Merchants were named this month’s Yard of the Month winner for The Rock Garden in front of 2105 Carleton, but the landscape in front of their home at 2109 Carleton is nothing to sniff at. This side of the two properties is mostly in shade and includes a number of trees that came with the house, including a purple Mexican plum tree, two pecan trees near the house, and two Shumard oaks closer to the street. The Merchants filled out the beds near the front door with dense yew, pittosporum and ligustrum.

The Merchants received a $25 gift certificate to Archie’s Gardenland, courtesy of Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association, and a free year’s membership in AHNA.

If you’d like to nominate a yard, even your own, please send the address to



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