Friday, May 23, 2008

The Transformation

As I was strolling around my garden yesterday, I was thinking about how my yard has been transformed from a monoculture bermuda grass landscape into a place of gardening goodness. I dug around and found a photo of the house when we first bought it:

A blank canvas for sure! That tiny Japanese false oak tree in the front there was given a quick death by hack-saw and replaced by a Texas Ash. I have spent the last 5 years slowly ripping up grass and replacing it with drought tolerant natives and adapted plants.

The front yard as it appears today:

I lost several plants in the deluge that was last spring, those have been replaced but are still kinda small. I also extended this bed out this spring and so those items haven't filled in yet. It should fill out quite a bit by the end of the summer.

A few other angles:

And here is the west side of the house. All the grass has been removed and replaced with native and adapted trees and plants:

A little closer:

So that is where the yard stands now. It is still a work in progress. I have been getting a lot of compliments lately from the neighbors. They stop and ask what the plants are, how I went about it all, and how much work it is to maintain. They mention how they are thinking of doing the same thing in their yards. Nice! I am starting to feel a little warm and fuzzy inside! I think I might buy some of those little metal plant identifier tag dealies and stick them by the plants. That way, people can just read the tag and know what plant is what. I am spreading the gardening love!


Ralph said...

Very Impressive. It takes some guts to make those changes, well considered and good as they prove to be. What's next?

Bonnie Story said...

I really love what you are doing - and it sure does boost equity and curb appeal! Bravo for thinking outside the box. Are other neighbors inspired? Very nice blog and good photos. Hey, thanks for faving me at Blotanical!! Happy gardening! Bonnie

Rachel @ in bloom said...

I really like what you've done. The gravel mulch gives a very tidy effect (maybe I should try that somewhere), and you've got a nice mixture of shapes and textures in your garden. Great work, and something I can learn from. :)

Lee17 said...


Thank you! It did take some guts. I started cutting out all that grass, and I thought to myself - 'Oh, I so hope I know what I am doing!' But it did turn out really nice, didn't it?

My next project is to build a flower garden around the new fountain I just put in ;)

Lee17 said...


I am glad you like it! I did it because I love plants and find lawn boring. And yes, I see some of the neigbors starting to put in flower beds here and there. It makes me smile to see that happening.

You are quite welcome! I am originally from the Pacific Northwest and I miss it so much! At leat I can follow along with your blog and get my Northwest fix that way ;)

Lee17 said...


Thanks! The reason I used gravel was because the front yard is on a slope and when it rains, any cedar mulch washes right down the drain and makes a BIG mess on the sidewalk. Trust me on this one. Slope = wood mulch BAD, gravel and rockery GOOD ;)

Iris said...

Wow--you've done a great job!! I know from personal experience how much work (both physically & mentally) it is to convert a conventional sod lawn into garden stuff.

Isn't it COOL when the neighbors decide you're maybe not a complete nutjob & start asking about what you've done? I still have one neighbor who tells me how much she likes "that weed stuff", referring to the Mexican feathergrass. And that still makes me happy, too!

Rock on!

Lori said...

Oooh, nice! I especially like the side yard. If mine were any wider (they're both only 6 feet wide), I'd do the same thing.

And it's nice to hear that the neighbors are following your good example. There's nothing more boring than a neighborhood of blank green lawns!

ConsciousGardener said...

Awesome job Lee! I love your blog and photos:) Cheryl

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

That's the way...lead by example. Perhaps gardeners will someday triumph over suburban monoculture.

I love looking at the progression over time through the photographs.

East-Side patch said...

Love what you have done to your front yard - if only more people would do what you are doing in suburban Austin! I find it so depressing that most lots are devoid of anything other than grass. Imagine an oak in each front yard - what a transformation it would be in a few years.
Keep up the good work. I would be forever grateful if you would include me in your Austin bloggers listing.


Pam/Digging said...

Very nice! It's wonderful that you're changing your neighbors' perception of what an attractive yard must be.

Lee17 said...


Thanks! Yes, it WAS a lot of work. All that grass came out with just the work of me, my trusty straight-edge shovel, and a whole lotta determination! I tried solarizing it once, but the bermuda grass came right back - evil stuff it is!

It IS cool. I am known in the neighborhood as 'That crazy plant lady' ;) I have neighbors dropping off plants at my door they don't know what to do with once in a while. I am all down for free plants!

That 'weed stuff' HAHAHA! That is AWESOME. At least your neighbor likes the grass ;)

Lee17 said...


I really like the side yard too. It is sorta like my wilderness area part of the yard.

The other side of the house I struggle with becuase it is only like 6-7 feet wide and you have to have room to walk to the back yard gate down that way too...but that is another blog!

Lee17 said...


Thank you! All I have to take photos with is a crappy 5 year old digital camera, but I do my best!One of these days I am gonna go buy myself a fancy new one ;)

Lee17 said...


I hope more people will be moved to eliminate the out-dated 1950's lawn! Especially in hot climates where is just really isn't very practical and sucks water like there is no tomorrow.

The progression IS cool. I wish I had taken more photos of the back yard when we first bought the house. It also was nothin' but lawn.

Lee17 said...

East-Side Patch,

It IS depressing when the developers come in and scrape off EVERY SINGLE TREE and replace it with boring lawn. I wish more people would at least put back in trees that are adapted to their region. It would make eveything so much nicer.

I don't know how I missed your blog! I am so sorry. I added you in to the list. I am trying to keep a list of all the Austin garden blogs. I love to see what each person comes up with to make their garden unique ;)

Lee17 said...


Thanks! Your blog has been an inspiration to me - I lurked on your site for quite some time ;) I hope to see more gardens popping up in our neighborhood. Yards don't have to be all boring to look beautiful!