This Old House: Dressing Up The Exterior Part II

Last fall, both the front of our house and our front yard underwent massive makeovers. You can refresh your memory by clicking here.

This July, we had Debbie and the crew of Sagebrush Landscaping back to redesign the back yard. I must preface this post by saying that, generally speaking, it is not a good idea to be landscaping in the 100 degree heat that consumes this part of Texas June through September. It is much preferable to tackle such a project in the early spring or fall. However, hubby’s family reunion was scheduled for mid July and he really wanted the back yard to be a little more functional before the big event.

For this part of Texas, we have a pretty big yard. It was mostly dust and weeds when we moved in with patches of good grass scattered throughout. Dean would “mow” this with his riding lawn mower and create quite a dustbowl! Debbie walked us through the yard, and we told her we had two goals. First, we wanted to xeriscape wherever we could. Austin has been in a drought since we have been living here, and it is was not feasible to water all this grass. We wanted to add gravel, mulch and decomposed granite where we could to break things up and add texture.  Secondly, we wanted to actually make use of the entire yard by adding zones of interest. Our requests were a playscape area for J, a hammock area for relaxing, an area for gathering around a fire pit, a picnic table amongst the trees and a herb garden wall opposite our raised garden boxes. She incorporated all that into the design as well as adding a “man cave” area for outdoor games. We were more than impressed with the results.

Basically our backyard went from this (picture taken after grass was removed and yard was filled with base dirt):


To this:

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In addition to the xeriscaping, we took additional steps to save water by converting the garden and all landscape beds to drip and upgrading the sprinkler system over the turf to more efficient MP rotator heads. The City of Austin offers a rebate for such upgrades. Sadly, it is still more costly than I ever imagined to water the back and front yard, but once the turf is well established in both these areas, it will hopefully become more drought resistant.

Now, we actually venture into the backyard beyond the pool. We have yet to test drive the fire pit (better once the nights get cooler) and have not done nearly as much relaxing in the hammock as we would have liked BUT J loves her play area and the house with the slide that her uncles built. It gets nearly daily use.  Our only real complaint is that the back yard being on a downhill slope, rainwater tends to take the path of least resistance down the decomposed granite pathways and wash them out. This is even after all our downspouts were rerouted via drains to the turf. This picture was taken after two days of heavy rains. Not good!


We are currently trouble shooting this and will let you know how we make out. I also have been busy planting the herb garden and succulent beds. Pics to come once those projects are finished. Fall is an ideal time for planting in our neck of the woods so my green thumb should be getting a workout very soon 🙂