Two years ago, before & after: 2011 ~ 2013

A friend asked me yesterday to share some “before” photos of our front garden- photos from before the 2011 major revamp, when it was a very thirsty and tired yard.   This is the perfect cue to also update the blog with “after” photos showing the current garden, a la May 2013.  At the bottom there is also info. on the watering and fertilizer upkeep.

I’m surprised I didn’t post comparisons long ago!   I love before & afters, and it’s been nearly two years since we removed the lawn and improved the hard-scape.  I’m tickled that someone has interest, tickled enough to clear the hurdle of perfectionism and not wait till I have good current images to post.   The below recent photos are via my phone and in not-great light. But, they are better quality than what I’ve been posting recently- that is, they are better than nothing.

Notice the healthy sago palms. They've not looked as healthy since due to back-to-back hard winter freezes.

Before, late winter 2010 (just before our purchase of the home)-  I like the curves and contrast, but it looks ho-hum to me.  It does have neat and tidy going for it.

After, May 2013


Before, 2011

After 2013

After, 2013


Before, 2011- view from back gate, and shows line in dirt for future wood plank path


After, 2013- view from gate


Before, 2011, entry path / porch

After 2013- entry path / porch

After, 2013- entry path / porch


Spring 2012–  Taken about a year ago and one year after the big revamp.

After, Spring 2013

Spring 2013
Compare with above photo to see how the butterfly agave has grown this past year.  It kinda needs to stop.

The garden is hand watered:

– about 3x per week when newly planted during the still hot Sept.- Nov. 2011,

– then once per week during the first winter,

– then 2x per week during the summer of 2012 (the first summer),

– once per month this past winter,

– and every other week this recent spring.

Though I (usually) enjoy the 30 minutes spent hand watering, I hope to only need to water every other week this summer, the garden’s second summer.

Before planting in 2011, the soil was tilled and plenty of compost was added. Since then I’ve only added “compost tea” (brewed at a local nursery) about 5x per year and used a palm fertilizer around the sago palms.

Rookie Mistake

When we replaced our lawn with a garden last month, I knew that I wanted to start with two elements – a mass planting of tall ornamental grass (we planted Gulf muhly), and in the narrow border bed between our yard and the neighbor’s driveway, I wanted to mix boulders and native plants in a way that, hopefully, looked more natural than contrived.    I got what I wanted, but there is a little “oops!”;  I didn’t consider that the tall grasses would hide a large portion of the boulder plants. 

I was initially inspired by this lovely photo I saw at the blog Creative Country Mom…..

I don’t have near as much real estate as CCMom, but here’s our new boulder-border below (on the left) sitting behind the tall muhly grass.  I like this view, but it’s only seen if you stand at the curb in just the right spot.   


The rock bed is more visible from the top of the stairs near our driveway (where visitors usually pass to the front door); hopefully the plants in the rocks will thrive and get taller while the muhly shouldn’t get much taller than this since it’ll be cut back each year in late winter.   

I really like this combination of  light green Bamboo muhly and silver Texas sage with a purple boulder.  I wonder if I can keep the TX sage pruned so it stays full at the bottom and not leggy as it matures?  I think low Creeping (wandering?) rosemary (for its dark texture) at the base of the rock would make this even better! 




Here’s more bamboo muhly planted in a culvert pipe- this visually anchors the end of the long boulder bed.  Inspired by Pam Penick’s Digging post about culvert pipe planters.    The dense sago palm and tall pipe shield the afternoon sun from a saucer of fresh water left for the wildlife.    

Garden Concert

If my new garden is a concert…
…then the dense Gulf muhly grass is the mosh pit,
which is easy to imagine when it thrashes and sways in the wind.
Pictured below, a leaf took a stage-dive and is carried across on grass finger tips.