Dreary to Dream Garden in 6 Easy Steps

Creating your ultimate landscape oasis isn’t as complicated as it sounds — if you follow these simple steps. Ready… set… dig into your little corner of Texas!

Your dream garden can be a relaxing escape, add value to your home and create habitat for wildlife — not to mention keep you healthy and fit!

1. Dream Big, Start Small

Imagine your perfect garden and ask yourself the big question: How will you use the space? Your dream landscape might include showstopping garden beds, a patio for entertaining, space for kids to play or maybe even an herb garden.

Consider your time and research the costs. Does your garden plan fit your budget and match the time you have available for installation and maintenance? Start small and add to your garden over time.

2. Get to Know Your Garden

Location, location, location. Choose the right site for your garden, one where you’ll see and enjoy it on a daily basis. Our lives get busy and gardens need attention, so it’s best to avoid “out of sight, out of mind” locations. Also, make sure there is a nearby water source — you don’t want to drag a hose too far.

Check your soil. Do you have sandy soil, clay soil or the very shallow soil over limestone that is characteristic of the Hill Country? Ideally, you would have four to six inches of good soil. Amend your soil with organic material and check for standing water or other drainage issues. Raised beds are always worth considering.

Sun or Shade. Go out and look at how much light your garden bed receives at different times of day. At the nursery, check the plant’s tag to see if it prefers sun or shade. A full shade plant will not be happy in the full Texas sun. Find the perfect water-saving plant for your yard and make sure all the plants in your bed have similar water requirements.

3. Create Your Plan

Measure your new bed and research the plants you like to find out how tall and wide they will grow be. Try planting three or five of the same type together for visual appeal.

4. Water the Right Way

Choose native or adapted plants and you won’t need to water much once they are established. Water newly planted perennials and trees frequently and in small amounts for the first two to three months, following the 3-2-1 method.

Once plant roots are established, switch to deep, infrequent watering and only when there is no rain. If you have an automatic irrigation system, make sure to update the settings to avoid wasting water.

5. Mulch

Add two inches of mulch to your new beds to help retain soil moisture and prevent weeds from growing (or at least make it easier to pull them!). We recommend hardwood or pine bark mulch. Refresh your mulch once or twice a year in April or May and then in September or October (if necessary).

6. Maintain Your Garden

Keep your landscape healthy and looking great with regular maintenance. Stay tuned to our newsletter for timely tips on when to prune trees, cut perennials back or fertilize the lawn.

One last tip for new gardeners: Everyone loses a few plants on their way to a green thumb. Don’t get discouraged — just pick a different plant!

Picture of Sasha Kodet
Sasha Kodet
Sasha Kodet is a conservation planner whose large garden attracts a myriad of wildlife and curious neighbors with minimal water. At SAWS, Kodet develops outdoor programs to help people create their own beautiful, water-saving landscapes. She draws on her two decades of experience as a naturalist, botanical garden educator and event planner. Kodet enjoys (really) long walks in the woods and has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail.
Dig Deeper

Find expert advice on garden basics, landscape design, watering and year-round maintenance.