Saturday, October 22, 2011

Landscaping 101

Our back yard is plain. Up until last week, it was nothing more than an expanse of grass bordered by a privacy fence.

Our backyard as it appeared in July. Grass had grown in well. Piles of dirt are from beds I was preparing at back of house and along east fence.
As you can see in the above picture, our bermuda grass had come in well, but the yard was simply plain. So, I recently began clearing a 7 foot wide bed across the entire width of our back fence. My idea is to make it a desert habitat of drought resistant and heat tolerant plants.

I began by simply turning the soil and working the grass out. This is a time consuming task because of the vast number of rocks in the dirt. The rocks range in size from marble size to football size. I then dug up the 3 sprinkler heads at the back and capped them. This in the long run will save quite a bit of water. After cleaning out the bed, Donna and I then went shopping. We bought 5 purple sage (cenizo) plants [4 for the back and 1 for the front bed], 2 sotol plants, a windmill palm, and an ornamental pomegranate. I immediately planted those, so now the back of our yard looks like the picture below.

Drought resistant and heat tolerant plants along back fence.

We also purchased 2 bur oak trees, which will be planted in the back half of the back yard. Those should be delivered this week. Once that is done, the yard will take on a completely different look and I'll update the pictures. We've enjoyed sitting out on our back patio so much more with just the plants in the above picture lining the back fence, so I know the addition of the 2 trees will enhance things even more.

I'm currently prepping wide beds along the east fence (would be along the left in the picture above, but not visible in that picture). These beds will be wide enough to allow 2 fig trees to grow over the years. We will also use that bed for growing some vegetables, especially tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

Donna and I visited a desert habitat park in San Angelo this week to look at the plants there. We made a list of several we would like to have in our yard. Our goal is to eventually make the entire back half of the back yard a low water area. I'm also glad to report that all watering of these plants has, to this point, been done with water from our rain barrels.

I'll continue to update our progress as our back yard continues to change in appearance. There is still so much to do, though, such as adding more plants, building bed liners to enhance the appearance and neatness of the beds, adding more bird baths and bird feeders, etc.

Stay tuned . . . .


  1. Hey, Keith! It's been years since this post. How did the landscaping go? I hope it went well. You have a beautiful and wide backyard and there's a lot things you can add here; this place has just a lot of potential.

    Johnson Rondeau

  2. Jason, it has been quite a while since that entry. If you read through the blog, you'll discover that we sold the house nearly a year ago and then traveled for a while. We are in a new house now and, ironically, we just put in sod yesterday. I'll be posting about that soon, showing before and after pictures.