Assessing Your Landscape for Change

Perhaps you’ve been thinking of updating your 1990s grass-dominant landscape, or you’re a new homeowner who hasn’t had a chance to personalize your preselected landscape, or you realize that you’ve spent a small fortune just to keep your full-sun St. Augustine grass alive.

No matter your reason or how big or small of a project you’re taking on, making landscape changes can be daunting. To help organize your project and set yourself up for success, start with a simple assessment of your current landscape.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Plant inventory: You might have plants that are more appropriate than you think, or you may find out you have too much of a bad thing. The grass is usually the culprit. If you need help identifying plants use the Garden Style San Antonio plant database.
  • Sun exposure: Where are the sunny and shaded areas of your garden? And how does it change throughout the day? Knowing how much sun your landscape receives is key to having a thriving garden with minimal water use. It may be the reason some plants, such as sun-loving cowpen daisy may not perform as expected when in full shade.
  • Soil: What type do you have? If you live in the northern part of Bexar County you’re likely to have thin, rocky soils. If you live inside Loop 410 you’re more likely to have deeper, clay, moisture-retaining soil, whereas the southern county transitions into sandier soil. While some plants will perform well throughout our area, most will do better in their preferred soil conditions. To pick the right plants, use the soils selection feature in the advanced search of the plant database.
  • Functional space: Yards are not just for gardening — they’re for outdoor living, too! What has been the past function of your yard and how would you like to use it in the future? Might it be a hardscape where you grill and entertain, a firepit, or a personal retreat space? Think about how you want to experience and share your yard.
  • Automatic irrigation: If you’re making changes to your landscape you’ll have to make changes to your irrigation system, too. Your system’s layout will change along with the landscape’s watering needs. For help, schedule a free irrigation consultation. Changes you make to your system may qualify you for the irrigation design rebate, but you must schedule a consultation first.

Once you assess what you have, identifying the good worth keeping and the bad you need to get rid of, and the underlying conditions in your yard, it becomes easier to address the issues, and envision the landscape you’ve always wanted.


Picture of Juan Soulas
Juan Soulas
Juan Soulas is a conservation planner for San Antonio Water System. Since joining SAWS in 2007 his duties have focused on residential water use. He works with his Conservation colleagues to help customers find ways to reduce outdoor usage without compromising the health and aesthetic quality of their landscapes. Juan also coordinates engaging outreach efforts with SAWS’ conservation partners -- Bexar County Master Gardeners, Gardening Volunteers of South Texas, San Antonio Botanical Garden and Mitchell Lake Audubon Center – to increase community access to vital conservation information.
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