The Perfectly Designed Landscape

One of our most frequently asked questions is, “How do I design my landscape?” Let me simplify the process somewhat by giving you our bare bones breakdown of a “perfect” landscape.

In previous Garden Tips, we have written about design elements such as color, balance, speciessite and xeriscape. All are important, but there are very basic elements to help you get started. We recommend using the one-third rule, or dividing your landscape into three sections: lawns, beds and permeable hardscape.

  • Grass uses the most water and should be limited no more than one-third of the landscape. Contrary to common thought and statistically, St. Augustine uses no more water than Bermuda grass to stay green. Limiting the amount of grass saves water, period.
  • Large mulched beds filled with drought-tolerant perennials use less water than grass and, as a rule, require less maintenance. Species that are well established and well suited to their planted site require pruning and mulching only two to three times a year.
  • Finally, permeable hardscape (whether flagstone, pavers, stepping stones, or decks) use the least amount of water. No matter how much you water rock, it will never grow. Stop the madness.

The problem we see most is homeowners taking this basic concept and applying it to the extreme, making the entire yard rock. This is absolutely not necessary. Applying the simple 1/3 rule will result in beauty, low maintenance and low water usage.

SAWS supports homeowners in achieving a perfect water savvy landscape with its landscape and patioscape coupons. Throughout the year, SAWS offers coupons to our customers that eliminate lawn and offer choices of plants or hardscape. Check periodically to find out when the coupons are offered.

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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