A modern xeric yard for a mid-century home in Austin, TX.
This morning started out rocking and rolling. I got a fair amount of granite and cloth in place. My neighbors have convinced me to use the “contractor grade” landscape fabric, and I’ve got to say it already seems to be much heavier than the black stuff. It lays flat when you work with it. It’s really tough. I can roll a wheelbarrow over it. Seems to be good stuff. Anyway, I got a bit of the yard done when those same neighbors came over to talk to my daughters. I was talking about what a pain the hills were going to be with the steel edging and George told me I needed a retaining wall. I spent about an hour grumbling in my head that I didn’t need a retaining wall, before realizing that really the retaining wall was pretty much necessary and would solve my hill problems. So when my dad got over we got to work and built the wall in 3 hours with brick from my backyard. We all think it looks great. And Julie’s really liking how the yard looks with the granite. It just makes everything pop. Especially the rose bushes. So tomorrow hopefully we’ll rock and roll and get the rest of the edging in place, and crossing my fingers the rest of the granite. I think with my Dad laying the fabric and spreading it we’ll get it done quick.
So today I took another day off work. We had the granite and mulch ordered. We had a lot of edging. I started out cleaning up the rest of the river rock and putting it in that weird area to the right of our front door. It looks nicer over there, but still lacks any real purpose. We need a fountain or piece of art or something.
My dad came over (he rocks) and we started on edging the garden boxes. We knocked the entire West side of the yard out before lunch. We went out for lunch, and picked up some more edging pieces and the RIGHT landscape fabric from the Muller Home Depot. I cleaned out the Woodward Home Depot yesterday morning. In case you’re looking for brown steel edging corners.
We came back, and ate, then finished the East side after the dump-truck came. Then using kitty litter buckets left by the previous inhabitants of this home we trucked all the mulch into the two garden beds. Endured some more taunting from neighbors (you are going to put plants in there right?) and more confusion from Julie. But it’s getting close.
I’ve just got to have faith that people are going to like it once the plants are in. You people are really bad at visualizing landscapes without plants.
It’s gone! Finally all the grass is gone. I’ve still been working on the yard, but mostly with the fiddly little stuff that doesn’t take fantastic before and after pictures. I ended up renting a sod cutter after my neighbors generously offered me the use of their truck. It took a bit to figure out, and unfortunately couldn’t be used on the parts I’d already started removing grass on, but it took out most of the rest of the front yard in less than 2 hours. A bit of a pain if you’re by yourself as you have to roll up a row before you can start the next or everything gets tangled in the cutter. I also now have a massive pile of dead grass in my backyard.
After that I spent Saturday and Sunday just cleaning up all the patches that had been missed. Which took quite a bit of work. I’m working on getting my sod and decomposed granite delivered tomorrow, and still need to work on getting the steel edging to go down hill, but things are actually starting to look like the end is in sight.
So after much leveling finally got to start shoveling stone. This is how it looks after an hour of work this morning. It needs a lot of cleaning up, but it’s definitely starting to resemble something and looking sharp.
On a sad note while hammering in edging this weekend my trusty rubber mallet splintered in two. It was both a gardening and cooking tool as I had used it to flatten many a chicken breast and pork chop. It will be missed.
Went third round of leveling pavers and got edging in around path. Gonna push to get river rock in the path and remove the rest of the grass.
We went out to Julie’s parent’s land in Evant this weekend. We managed to secure some free river rock, that just requires us to load it into a trailer, and then our neighbor is driving it over to our house. That loading is quite a lot of work, though. We’re probably a little over halfway through and that first picture is how much we’ve done. A lot more work than we were expecting. But Julie and the girls helped.
While in Evant we picked up a bunch of yucca and cactus. Not much variety out there. Obviously grazing has left pretty much only stuff that cows and deer don’t eat. But we brought some back to pot and get ready for the front yard.
This week I’m focusing on leveling the path. I’m work mornings and nights. This project was bigger than I expected. Gotta rent a sod cutter and buy some decomposed granite for this weekend.
Not a lot of interesting work yesterday. Both my mom and dad came over and helped pull up some grass. We’re now about ¾ done with the South side of the yard.
So in the spirit of doing landscaping projects, I noticed yesterday that there was a massive dead branch in one tree in the backyard. Last night we had a rainstorm and that tree basically appears to have exploded. It fell apart. So we spent today scrambling to find someone to cut it down. And worrying about the cost. And I moved almost a ton of pavers today. At the end I was cleaning up. We had one extra paver and it completely fell apart while I was attempting to lift it. Lovely cut and bruise on my middle finger. Fun day. But we got a bunch of grass out. We got all the pavers moved. We got some free river rock lined up. Tomorrow I have to level the pavers and move out some more grass.
Spent the morning pulling back out the existing brick border and concrete pavers. I think those pavers were cast in place. They’re super heavy and weighted oddly. The second picture is my boneyard after putting everything back there. The majority of the pavers and yellow bricks on the left came out of the front yard this morning. This afternoon we’re going to try to get the landscape fabric and new pavers down and start pulling out grass.
One of the big issues I had with this conversion is that there are very few examples of entire front yard conversions. Most xeric designs involve turf with bordering xeric flowerbeds. Very few are a large standard suburban lot with no grass. And most of those are in Arizona and look a bit spare. So this plan is very much an experiment.
At this point we are still very open to conversion ideas. Feel free to attach any photos or ideas you find inspiring in the comments.