Our realtor wanted to keep driving when she saw the front yard, and did not want to even stop to show us inside the house. After moving in, the new neighbors and friends dropped hints that we should do something about the yard. The problem? Just a sea of gravel under the live oaks with a few shrubs dotted around as shown in these scanned photos from 1995.
Definitely more "zeroscape" than xeriscape. It would be considered odd now, but back in the mid-1990s it was looked at as downright weird.
My husband saw it as a bonus -- no lawn mowing meant more time on the golf course and I was intrigued by the challenge. The concept of xeriscape was just taking hold in San Antonio, so we began to research our approach. After reading a few articles and checking out yards on the Watersaver Tour, we decided there was no point in planting a lawn, either front or back. Driveways and sidewalk cover a significant part of the east side (front) and south side (garage side), creating hot spots while closely spaced trees near the front door would make maintaining a lawn difficult at best.
Busy with our respective careers, we planted a few additional shrubs in the two years we lived here before the Air Force moved us to Boston, Alabama, and Washington, DC. Eleven years and four renters later we returned to a neglected yard that needed an overhaul.
The above photo was taken after we had started trimming for the city's brush pick up. That's a lot of cleaning up and we were just getting going in early 2009.
We began at the street by removing the gravel, black plastic and metal border trim originally installed. We live on a curve and discourage street parking so larger rocks from the back yard were used to fill in because the gravel often ended up in the street. A small crushed granite path runs through the middle, and existing salvia greggii was divided and replanted.
Replacing the old composition shingle roof and powerwashing the house made a big difference by October of 2010, plus the new plants started to look more established
Next we tackled the island between the circle driveway and the sidewalk. This time we reused the original gravel and added some gentle berms for dimension.
After, with Spanish Lavender in bloom
Starting to reap the rewards of hard work
Then we took on the area near the front door, rearranging and planting this tree circle with iris, inland sea oats, and ruellia. We'll continue working on this area through the winter
After, plants are beginning to fill in
The large rocks near the house in the above photo are part of a water feature currently in progress. There are many more changes and additions planned for this area which is a somewhat private garden room behind the trees.
Across the way by the front walk we used limestone blocks to build a bed for shade plants in Spring 2010.
Next up was the gravel garden by the garage and I documented the changes in a previous post about the Hesperaloe parviflora.
Two views from October 2010 similar to the first two in this post to show all the changes over the years.
This year has brought a few changes and since it was a tough year for the garden things don't look quite as good as last year in this photo from November 2011.
Most of the tough work is now done and we can enjoy the yard as it fills in and grows. It certainly is more fun to drive up to the house than three years ago. And not a blade of grass....even better!