Landscape Design Challenge

Karen Guz

Winter is the perfect time to take on a landscape project in San Antonio. It’s comfortable to work outside, and plants will get a chance to get their roots started before the hot weather returns.

Last year I pledged to remove many of the aggressive non-native plants in my home landscape. These are species that tend to spread to natural areas pushing out plants that benefit wildlife. It took persistence, but now a big area has been emptied of vinca groundcover, nandina and pyracantha. While it is exciting to contemplate the many options for replacement plants, I also want to use this opportunity to pull together a more unified design for the entire front yard.

Luckily I have some talented friends in Heather Ginsburg and Brad Wier. They have promised to help me overcome some of the landscape challenges in my neighborhood: deer, exposure, and thin soil.

Neighborhood Deer

It is difficult to find plants that will not be decimated by my hungry neighborhood deer. Every herd of deer has a different notion of what they will and will not eat. I have a good sense of which plants will be unharmed based on what is still thriving in nearby neighborhood landscapes, but I look forward to trying some new, hardy native plants.

Deep Shade and Full Sun

It is wonderful to have enormous live oak and cedar elms shading much of my front yard, but some plants can’t thrive in the dense shade. An adjacent section of the driveway receives a full blast of direct sun from the West, requiring plants that can handle the punishing heat. Choosing plants that can meet both conditions will keep things interesting.

Thin Hill Country Soils

There is very little native organic matter in my neighborhood on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. While I have added compost and mulch over the years, the truth is that I will get best results working with a palette of plants suited to the thin soil conditions. Anything needing constant moisture or deep soils will not thrive in my yard.

Winter is the perfect time to take on a landscape project like this. It’s not too hot to work outside and my plants will have a chance to get their roots started before hot weather returns.

Watch GardenStyleSA.com for the designs Brad and Heather propose. I’ll let you know which plants survive and thrive.

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