Where to Begin

Early Decisions To Make

We recommend you dream big but start small, especially if you are new to gardening and doing the work yourself. Here are a few things to think about first. 

How you will use the space.

Relaxing, entertaining, child’s play area, a haven for wildlife? Maybe all of them.

Maintenance requirements.

Some landscape designs take more maintenance than others.  A sleek and modern garden with perfect lines will take much more planning and maintenance than a looser cottage garden look. And both can be beautiful.

Your time and budget.

Starting small will let you gauge how much time and money it will take to achieve your goals. Starting small means early mistakes will be small too. You may adjust your goals accordingly. 

If you’re new to gardening, welcome!

Take solace in the fact even the most seasoned gardeners make mistakes. If you’re a gardener new to Texas, a big howdy. No matter where you live gardening can be a challenge. Be sure to identify possible new challenges you’ll find here.  

Check out our Basic Design Principles page for additional considerations.

Location, Location, Location

Choose a spot you’ll see and enjoy daily. Gardens need attention, especially the first one or two years, depending on the design. Avoid “out of sight, out of mind” locations.  Always understand gardening is a trial and error proposition.

Full Scorch or Shady?

Now that you’ve picked your spot, note how much light your garden bed receives over the course of the day. Match your plants to sunlight conditions. A shade-loving plant will not be happy in the full Texas sun and most plants like a little afternoon shade in August.

How Deep is Your Loam?

Before you start, dig a test hole. You’ll need at least six inches of soil to grow turfgrass; the less you have, the more inputs, jackhammers and water you’ll need to grow anything but native plants. In northern Bexar County and the Hill Country, you may be gardening in solid rock, so design accordingly.

Design Starter

As a rule of thumb, plant tall plants in the back and shorter plants in front except when you are planting close to windows. Remember your views. Planting three or five of the same plant together is often used by professional landscapers for visual appeal.

Right Plant, Right Place

By now you should know how big your bed will be, if it’s sunny or shady, and your soil type. Measure your new bed and research the plants you like. Pay particular attention to their soil and sun needs. Remember to check how tall and wide they will be when full grown, especially if you are planting near a window.

Transform Your Yard

GSSA Orange Flower graphic

Turn turf into gorgeous landscape beds with help from our Landscape Coupon. Bonus: You’ll save money and water!

SAWS residential customers can apply for the $100 coupon each spring and fall.

Outdoor Living Rebates are also available.

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