No Grass- Xeriscape

pricklypearsatx(z8)August 23, 2010

Is it possible for a no grass front yard to look decent?

Several years ago, I removed the grass in my front yard due to water restrictions here in San Antonio, Texas.

The area next to the sidewalk (curb appeal area) often experiences temps in excess of 120 degrees.

Only a few Texas native plants such as cactus, yucca, sage and lantana, and cenizo (Texas ranger -leuchophyullum) have survived long term in this particular spot.

What happens is a sense of "business" in the yard and is not restful.

I would post a pic, but thought I would ask a more philosophical question.

The area next to the curb is awful and unlike grass, my eyes don't flow through this type of native vegetation -

Anyway, just wondering if it is possible for this type of xeriscape to look as decent as plain old grass?

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If you pay careful attention to foliage, yes.

I love the look of agaves, euphorbias, and yuccas together with airier materials. Santolina and Russian sage will survive almost anything. The key is to depend largely on foliage color and texture for interest and not too much on blooms, which can look messy quickly. But moonbeam coreopsis does well. Penstemons do, too. My blanket flower did awesome, but coneflower gave up the ghost pretty fast--my environment was MUCH harsher than yours, though, (lower rainfall and much more brutal sun) and I had a strict no-babying policy after the first year. Scabiosa and liatris also did pretty darned well.

Make sure you have plenty of large-leaved stuff so it doesn't look weedy. And don't, for heaven's sake, plant stuff like prickly pear too near a walkway!

Get drip irrigation. That's crucial. Even if there is no "grass," plan out beds within the space. Even a simple bare circle in the middle can make it look more planned. If it's your style, put something in the center. Are you a modern art person? Bird bath? Fountain? Armillary? Big ol' talavera pot? Even a large planter can create a great focus. And don't forget the role of small trees, including mesquite, and evergreens like juniper (I like the low-growing, compact sorts, not the take-over-the-yard sorts--I think I have one called blue star that would do fine in Austin.)

(I came from he high desert before moving here.)

Also, some more tropical-looking things do great in Austin. Try mixing it up with canna in the background. Elephant ear will have to be lifted even there, but with a water emitter, it'll do great. Oleander loves it in Austin and looks amazing year-round. Crepe myrtle does well, too. So does Rose of Sharon and other hibiscus. Yaupon (which is a holly) can actually be trimmed into a hedge that looks great or left more wild-looking. Heck, roses do well there, too.

YES, you will need to water, PARTICULARLY the first year when things are getting established.

Really, you can have whatever look you want in Austin. There, I'd probably go in a wild desert-meets-tropical direction--the combination of different foliage sizes and textures and colors would be awesome.

Here is a link that might be useful: Check out High Country Gardens for ideas

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 11:02PM
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    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:33PM
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Lazygardens: I posted pics in the thread Xeriscape w/Pics Need Bones

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:46PM
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