Xeriscape w/Pics Need Bones

pricklypearsatx(z8)August 24, 2010

I posted the thread "Xeriscape- no grass", but didn't get a response.

So, here are some pics approaching house from the street. Eye is automatically drawn to the driveway. (We keep cars in driveway)

I've got good decent shade in the summer, which softens the driveway considerably, but in the winter, it looks very hot and it glares. (I'm in Texas and summers are very very hot and winters are hot too)

Driveway view summer:

Driveway view winter:

Summer shade is from, oaks and pecan which are deciduous.

Most of the low growing plants, along this sidewalk strip: lantana, purple heart, and salvia are partly deciduous.

The lantana in the winter pic is blooming, but it is wirey and looks messy.

Do you think I need to provide a soothing horizontal evergreen monotype interest, like a hugging groundcover in the foreground? (In place of the lantana)

But it also needs something taller to screen the driveway a bit....

I just don't seem to know how to go about doing this.

Although the area might appear a bit "overgrown" in the summer, here is the neighborhood view. House blends in well:

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You need an overall picture from the street showing the whole area, house etc. It is hard to give you any direction when all we see are a few puzzle pieces. 2 of your pictures make me think of a kid with their hair hanging down to their nose--I want to get the scissors after them. Is your objective to showcase your home? Define your objective and give an overall view of your whole yard/home and I bet you will get some responses.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 8:02PM
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I'd cut trim the trees a bit higher to give the space breathing room. Check out the preplanned gardens at High Country Gardens in my previous post for ideas for that strip. Be aware that even in Texas, you'll need to fill in your winter bare spots with annuals.

You can trim things up and neaten it and still have a "natural" look. It took me a while to realize that in my "natural" garden!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 11:07PM
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Here is a street view of my yard in winter. My objective is to soften the driveway a bit, in the winter.

I showed a close up of the bed in my OP because it shows the flaws.

Reyesuela: Thanks. The annual thing sure gets old..LOL

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:44PM
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Here is a blueprint pic.
We have a sidewalk that connects the driveway to the house. (Used primarily by visitors)

However, we also have an informal "path of least resistance" in red.

We have a beautiful maturing Bur Oak that is wedged within this "path of least resistance".

I can't move my sidewalk, but I think I can improve the "path of least resistance". I would like to get some pointers on how to change it. Something just isn't right with it. I can't quite figure it out.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 10:34PM
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Close up of area (sidewalk in white - path of least resistance red) Something about the way the paths intersect doesn't seem right to me. The driveway is 25 feet long. The sidewalk and path of least resistance are only a few feet from each other.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 11:10PM
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I checked the weather sites, and don't see 120F temps even as records - San Antonio is not as hot as Phoenix. Maybe if you put the thermometer in the reflected heat from the driveway, but that doesn't count.

Remember that the USDA "Zone" system is only considering the winter lows, not the summer highs and not rainfall or humidity. They put Phoenix, AZ and Tampa, FL into the same zone. :-(

Central Texas is a tough climate, because many of the cold-hardy plants hate the hot, humid summers, and the stuff that loves the summers freezes dead in the winter.

Here's most of the problem ... your "winter" landscaping is depending on sun-loving but frost-tender plants such as lantana, and USDA Zone 8 regularly gets below freezing.

And your "summer" landscaping is buried under those low-hanging tree limbs so it's not getting enough sun. By the time the leaves fall, it's all straggly and light-stressed and ugly.

1 - Prune the lower limbs of the trees so you can see the landscaping under them, and the landscaping gets sunshine. That increases the number of plants you can grow.

That will also improve summer safety because you will be able to see what's coming down the street when you back the car out.

2 - Get a copy of Sunset Western Garden book (from the library) or go to the website's plant finder ... San Antonio and Fresno (in Sunset's Zone 8) have a lot in common weather-wise, including the summer humidity, so use that as a starting point.

TAMU.EDU resources (Texas A&M has great gardening info)

http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/HomeHort/index.htm for a list of plants that do well locally.


http://texassuperstar.com/plants/index.html Apparently the best of the best.

General plan, after pruning up the trees: some low permanent spreading stuff, with a mature size that is SMALLER than the width of the landscaping area so you aren't pruning a lot.

A few taller things to give some variety, but don't block the view of the street for the driver who is leaving the driveway.

For summer color, drought-tolerant portulaca loves heat and sun and is gaudy. It also self-seeds so if it's happy it keeps coming back.

More links:

Here is a link that might be useful: Sunset Plant finder

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 8:02AM
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