Tag: McDonald

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