Home GardeningGarden Diary Drive-By Gardens: Contemporary, lawn-gone front yard

Drive-By Gardens: Contemporary, lawn-gone front yard


June 12, 2024

I walked by this home in my northwest Austin ‘hood the other day and — bam! — the landscaping stopped me in my tracks. A silver-green planting of whale’s tongue agave, woolly stemodia, and grassy Lindheimer nolina (I think) makes a textural, deer-resistant welcome to this 1970s ranch. A low wall manages the sloping grade change and creates subtle separation between the public-facing part of the yard and an inner, more-private patio by the front door.

Speaking of the door, I adore that sky-blue paint job.

Looking lengthwise, you see how the curving lot was accommodated with an apron of gravel, which provides easy access for visitors parking along the curb. There’s no reason your visitors or the pizza delivery guy must squeeze past your plants — or, heaven forbid, step on them — when exiting their cars. A strip of gravel solves that problem. This gravel strip absorbs the curve, and then the modern straight lines of the steel edging and wall take over.

Inside the wall, under the shade of trees, inland sea oats provides more grassy, deer-resistant texture. The small, mounding plants by the potted cactus look like asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’). It looks like the agaves have been troubled a bit by deer-antlering during the fall rut (as mine have been), and I suspect the owners will have to cage them from September through April to prevent further damage. A frustrating fact of life in my part of town.

It was so nice to run across this beautiful design that eliminates thirsty lawn, updates the house, and creates a semi-private front-yard living space. Win-win-win!

I learned later that woman-owned B. Jane designed this garden and Fertile Ground has done some of the maintenance. Nice job, ladies!

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