Ready to get inspired? Start here!
Updating the Midcentury Lawn
Remove any tired grass that is shaded out or needs too much water and replace it with architectural plant specimens or color that compliment the straight lines of a mid-century home.
A Dry Edge
This homeowner removed the grass and retro-fitted her drainage easement with agave, yucca and muhly grass to give the property a strong ornamental edge.
Agave as Groundcover
At the Valero headquarters in northwest San Antonio, artichoke agaves provide a strong sculptural form to a sunny mulched bed.
Sedum and toothless sotol are both examples of strong low-maintenance architectural plants, used here in a raised bed in a hotel courtyard. Flagstones in a bed of crushed pink granite define the walkway below.
Blades of Glory
Mexican feathergrass and purple fountaingrass give dramatic form to a mulched bed which the homeowners installed as a buffer between their turfgrass and the hot streetscape. Note the dry streambed in the background, which directs water across this steeply sloping site
If the site is level, decomposed pink granite can provide a durable groundcover that resists the compaction common in heavily-used activity areas.
Designing with Walkways
Without the burden of a sweeping yard, the landscape becomes a better outdoor living space. Flagstones wind through the landscape; smaller patches of turfgrass turn out to be much easier to keep green than big ones.
On a steeply sloping North Side site, custom-built walkways of flagstone and wood invite visitors to stroll through an informal native landscape of persimmon, cedar elm and whitebrush. Horseherb is among the most durable of groundcovers for an unirrigated site. Potted succulents adorn the landings and seating areas.
Groundcovers for Shade
On a shady site, specimen sago palms provide large sculptural form, on a groundcover composed of hardy, spreading airplane plant.
Cenizo and softleaf yucca provide strong drought-tolerant form, along with the constant motion of pink muhly grass and the bright perennial color of mint marigold.
Liriope, plumbago, and cast-iron plant provide a classic shade-tolerant combination for an irrigated site defined by long linear beds under an allée of locust trees.
Landscaping with Rock Borders
Sometimes, too much gravel can look a bit too xeric. Instead of using river rocks as a default groundcover, try using them to give the landscape beds a strong design edge that resists washing out.
A simple grid of lavender provides an elegant pattern for a mulched front yard in Monte Vista.
Use a narrow, informal border of river rocks along a sidewalk, a driveway or the street. It helps moderate the impact of a harsh concrete edge on the landscape plants. Plus, it doesn’t have to be watered to look good.
A patio of crushed granite fitted with stepping stones and a central fire pit. This cozy outdoor living space was installed in the midst of what was formerly a St. Augustine lawn.
Plants in Motion
Small groupings of mint marigold and soft-leaf yucca provide a stable recurring pattern along a walkway, with Lindheimer’s muhly waving in full bloom in the background.
Dianella tasmanica and foxtail fern provide a soft evergreen edge for this organic woodland perch, in the midst of a bustling neighborhood. This shady garden was grown without in-ground irrigation.
Softening the Hardscape with Herbs
Santolina softens a bed of river rock in the thin limestone soils of northern Bexar County.
Spikes and Mounds
Instead of a lawn, this outdoor space is composed of a simple walkway bordered by ornamental muhly grasses and mounding perennials.
The Art of the Dry Streambed
A dry streambed is paired with boulders and muhly grass to define and enliven a landscape without resorting to turfgrass.
The Modern Inferno Strip
On the thin limestone soils of northern Bexar County, turfgrass tends to be short-lived. Here, red yucca and autumn sage step in to provide a tough Texas-sized groundcover in an inferno strip along TPC Parkway.
The Raised Bed
Horsetail fern, prickly pear and agave are paired with a Mutabilis rose to enliven a raised bed.