Tag: Drought

Drought Design for Wildlife Habitat: Bruce McDonald

In Hudson Bend above Lake Travis Dr.

Bruce Mcdonald responded to severedrought.

He replaced his front lawn with waterconserving plants bordered by scavenged rocks.

In back, wildlife spends time withhim in his courtyard garden with ponds replenished by rainwater collection.

Nowa member of the Hudson bend Garden Club, gardening hasn't always been his groundinghobby.

I was recently retired and I have ahandicapped daughter and I have a wife who was very sick at the time so i waspretty much here all the time and had to find something to do that was around the house and so Istarted doing some gardening and the backyard was mostly a jungle and we were having wild fires so I was cutting down the cedar trees and it just left this big desolate area with a slope down to an alleyway.

One of my neighbors and I as a project built a retaining wall a hundred and thirty-five feet long by six feet tall and filled it up with the excavation from swimming pools in the area.

The wall is made out of cinder block andthen it's reinforced with rebar and concrete in the holes in the cinder block and then has acoat of stucco on the top of it.

Since Bruce always has extra pups in divisions he inserts them into cavities on theback side.

Inside the wall, he broke up the empty terrain in to defined destinations with granite walkways.

Then he started filling beds along the route.

i enjoy just playing around with different plants and see what you can do with them and I like planting seeds and seeing them germinate and become plants.

It's kind of like an ongoing sciencefair project for me I just I'm always fiddling with things and seeing howthings work.

Then my wife at the time said she wanted water feature and so westarted making a pond.

Now we have two ponds and we've been on the pond societytwo or three times now.

Dedicated koi ponds are a little more formal if you look at the Japanese they're very, the ponds are more geometric andformal looking.

The ones that are typically water gardens tryto look more natural and so that's the two contrasting styles.

We have a totalof three thousand gallons capacity and the water is replenished by the rainwater collection.

There arelittle float valves that control the water level just one thing leads toanother.

I have a bit of a slogan that isanything worth doing is worth overdoing and this kind of leads credence to that.

The dry stack wall was just rock that came in with the excavation from theswimming pool and also rock that I got from Lake Travis when the water levelswere down I just thought it'd be a nice area for aplanter and something a little different.

So I started stacking up rock and putthe plants in it.

On memorial day we had a flood come through here andwashed all that down the hill and so had to rebuild it.

Now i'm rebuilding it with a littlemortar instead of just dry sack I think that will be a little bit better.

A dry creek bed helps control flooding water.

It's just fun to arrange the rocksbecause these are like bricks that fit together on one pattern or oneof several patterns.

Each rock is different and it's kind of fun to startarranging things and then seeing ok here's a little crevice for some toput a plant and then you look around you find the right plant to put thereand just fun just go out there and start doing something and watch it evolve overtime and it's like taking a lump of clay and modeling and finally coming up withsomething that's the satisfaction of it.

I come out and commune with nature every day and I just I walk around the yard and decide what I want to do andi'll spend an hour or two with that and it's, it's just a nice quiet time to to do alittle yard work and be out here with all you hear is the sound of the water it's just a nice place to be Lattace fencing at the side promotes air flow through the courtyard.

In the sunny side yard Bruce built raised vegetable beds overthe rocky ground for fresh food year round here in transition between seasons.

In front he took out grass, peppering his new entrance with drought heartystructure and charm another dry creek siphons water to theback away from the house.

Curbs also slow water heading to the foundation.

That area initially was all grass and when bought the place and I wasfinding that I was spending three hundred dollars a month on water to justkeep that area in the front growing and I, and then it ended up dying out inthe middle of the summer anyway so i would just say i don't want that and our lake levels are down and there'sno reason that I need to be pouring water on this so I got out there and little bylittle I remove the grass but in decomposed granite and brought rock upfrom lake travis and started putting little rock gardens and that's the look we have out there.

Out by the road there's a little barrier strip there that was between my lawn out there at the time and when I was building that Isaid well I'm not just going to put rock here i'm going to put someplants here and the first thing i found was some cactus that were just sittingout there at the edge of the road right across from my lot and I said I wonder if these will grow if I stick them in the ground here.

They're impossible to kill which is goodfor a gardener like me and then you notice that there are a lot of theagaves.

I have numerous variety of those what I did with those I ran into myneighbors who had them growing and I would tell him you know that would look a lotnicer if it were trimmed up and all those pups were gone and they would sayoh but you know we don't like to do that and ihave the time to do it so I'd go over there my trailer and I clean it up forthem and I'd come back with a trailer load of pups of various types and then I juststick them in the ground and they grow pretty fast it's just a gradual evolution andsometimes so sometimes I'll go around I'll not do anything for a couple weeksthen some week so maybe have a couple hundred transplants and make a few new beds.

I come out in the garden with a cup of coffee in the morning and I say well what am I goingto do today and then I see some area that I want to play with and move andchange and it's always kind of a state of evolution.

I've never had a master plan it's just Igo out and do what feels good that day.

Source: Youtube

Stylish No Lawn Drought Design: Pam Penick

In 2008, Pam Penick stepped up to the challenge when she and husband David moved to a neighborhood that's literally home with the armadillos and deer.

To put her stamp on this new garden, she tackled shade, floodwater control, and yards of grass.

Really it was just a process of from the time we moved in until now just been kind of nipping out pieces of the lawn around the house just kinda working my way around to wherever was most interesting at the time.

We had inherited the pool and the pool patios were circles.

Building on the circular theme one of her first projects was to replace grass with an 8-foot stock tank pond.

At first it was just decomposed granite around it, but I emphasized the circle with the strips of stone, the sawn strips I had.

There was a pallet leftover at a stone yard and I bought the whole palette and laid those in a sunburst pattern.

So that was like the first major circular edition, and then I did plant in a formal shape those boxwood balls at each entry way into that garden space.

Bamboo muley and Colorguard yuccas hug the part-sun border against the upper storey patio.

On the opposite shadier side Pam spanned culver pipes and planted up with squid agaves.

One side is much lower than the other.

The culver pipes will elevate that to be sort of the same height as the color guards and because they've got those ridges, those spiral ridges, they kind of echo the stripes in the colorguard.

From the start, Pam had her eye on the existing limestone beds across the back.

Gradually, she replaced struggling plants for water thrifty layers strengthened with foliar contrasts.

She added graceful uplifting Alphonscar bamboo to a resident Texas persimmon and crepe myrtle to complement the tall lines of the house.

At first Pam moved plants from her old garden like her beloved Wales tongue agave, Moby.

As she got acquainted with her new garden, Pam discarded some of the past in favor of better fits.

Then I also paid attention to what you looked at in each direction, which ever way you looked I wanted there to be a focal point.

And then most recently, the other circular project I added were the stucco walls.

We already had the terraces from the limestone beds, but there was nothing behind the pool except this feeling of space like your chair might slip off the edge of those little patios if you weren't careful and so the stucco walls were to give us some structure and stability and to echo the feeling of these limestone walls but with a more contemporary kind of colorful look.

She built her first stand-alone wall with cinder blocks to frame a patio against a downhill path.

Always looking for ideas to display intricate succulents, the multi-storey design makes the perfect showcase.

And because you can see on both sides I experimented with ways to have the parts that stick out – they stick on both sides.

Everyone asks how do you keep the soil in the pockets and the way I did it was I jammed a nail down in there – like diagonally into the holes just to kind of – like a large nail – to support a chicken wire basket that's then filled with landscape fabric.

So there's a chicken wire basket with landscape fabric to keep the soil in and then there's just a little pocket of well-drained soil, and then the succulents are planted right in that.

To color up this patio that Pam views from her office, she picked bright shades that accent rather than clash.

I like blue, and blue to me is cooling.

I always had a bottle tree and this is a newer version of a bottle tree.

The bottle tree traditionally has blue bottles and so that was probably the starting point and I just bought some more blue pots, but I have consciously echoed the Blues partly because we have a blue pool, and when you have the blue pool you're gonna have to run with the blue pool.

The pool determines a lot more than I really realized at first.

In the terrace backyard different pathway treatments keep things moving right along.

Alongside the cinderblock patio, Pam replaced grass with crushed limestone gravel and treated pine curves.

She matched the technique on the other side.

The gravel and wooden curbs prevent rainfall wipeouts and downpours.

Flagstones promote destination through the shady back.

Where the woodsy walk meets the pond and concrete pool surround, Pam installed a more formal flagstone design.

She didn't need to haul in the limestone slabs, nature offered them for free.

Since the back abuts a greenbelt, former owners wired cedar post to the chain-link fence.

Although it keeps out deer, tunneling armadillos are a challenge.

On both sides Pam installed trellis stall fences for open-faced privacy.

She modified the new gates to be more invitational.

I just got a little jigsaw and cut out the window, the peekaboo window is what I like to call it.

And then I had some old cattle panel leftover.

I put that in the window just as a grid.

In front, her first project was to create privacy screening on the central driveway berm.

She ripped out ground cover Jasmines and Nandinas under the oak trees for intriguing depth with deer resistant plants.

Then she modified the main section's berm.

The berm was slippery with St.

Augustine, you couldn't walk around the front of the house without tripping over old stumps of shrubs that were long gone.

A few years ago I had a guy come in with a bobcat and dig out a pathway along the driveway and along the front of the house and that kind of gave the house some breathing room, it gave us a pass so that we could walk through the front and to the back yard.

At the sunny curb, it gave her level planting ground for pollinator and hummingbird plants.

Since deer are on the street, Pam's learned what they might not munch.

A decomposed granite path allows passage and observation between the sunlit curb and the shady Berkeley sedge lawn that replaced St.


And my daughter and I planted them, I think it was about how many? 700 plants, 700 plugs.

It was a lot of plugs and I made holes with a broom handle, so I was just standing there with a broom handle you know doing this to make the hole and then she was dropping the plugs in.

And it took about two years for it to fill in as it is now so at first it was a little I call it like a hair plug look for it to really fill in, but now it has filled in great.

She and neighbor Donna collaborated on a garden where the properties unite.

Pam added a functional path that also shows off the natural rock formation.

Later, Pam installed a neighborly cedar lattice stall fence staying dark to recede into the background.

I wanted to kind of create a more enclosed garden feel where I wouldn't be looking straight into their driveway but I wasn't also blocking it all off.

It's not really for privacy is just to make you feel like you're in a room.

For wall hangings in her new room she cut legs off trellises, stained them to match the fence and backed with acrylic mirrors.

On the other side of the driveway she created a gentle screen in a narrow strip once home to grass.

It's widened over time as the neighbors wanted less to mow.

They saw that I was planting like crazy so they asked me if I could just kind of continue those beds.

At the front door she updated the architecture with a gable porch.

Since grass scorched in the house-side nook, she replaced it for a sun hearty succulent gallery.

It just adds a little bit of a modern flair to the front.

I used tractor rims which I got off craigslist and then I had a friend who I think he had found the big steel pipe on his dad's ranch and he offered it to me for sale and I snap that right up.

I like to put the sculptural plants, agaves and things like that in pots anyway because it protects them, it protects you from them.

The first heavy rain sent her back to the drawing board.

We took out the existing sidewalk that dipped down and put in the concrete strips and the idea was that water could flow between the concrete strips but once I took out the grass the ground was leveled in a strange way and it didn't end up draining so well.

Her solution? An underground sump pump and a water collecting bin.

When it fills up with enough water it takes it through a pipe through the concrete pavers into the dry stream and carries it through the dry stream around the corner of the house.

And then it comes through the backyard and slowly with baffles and stone I try to slow down as it comes through the garden.

To diminish downpours, off the main berm she added a limestone retaining wall.

In the corner stone raised bed native wooly stemodius spills over, even in drought.

Author of two best-selling books and and award-winning blog, Pam champions how to turn yards into creative adventures.

To me it's the invitation.

It's part of what gets you out of the door.

It's connecting your house to your garden.

Source: Youtube