Extreme lawn makeovers, or "xeriscape landscaping" is the use of low water plants to save water in the landscape.
I understand its tough for homeowners to rip out their lawns because once the grass is gone; there is a large space to fill.
The decisions can seem daunting, from what plants to use to how to install a new drip irrigation system.
In my show, "Garden Police" on the Discovery Home Channel, my partner, Michael Glassman and I performed an "extreme lawn makeover" on a tiny front yard and replaced it with a xeriscape garden that became a model for the wise use of water in their neighborhood.
I hope it will give you some inspiration as well.
Before- A dull and dry lawn does nothing for the curb appeal of this house
After- The new low water garden plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Tall berms and a dry stone river along the bottom helped to" break up" the deep void left after the lawn was taken out.
We used a 70/30 soil blend that incorporates 70% topsoil and 30% organic amendments to keep the berm from "deflating" after watering.
Medium sized boulders punctuate and accent the gardens.
Yellow, "gold coin" groundcover will knit together and contrast with the burgundy Phormium.
We used weed cloth underneath the entire garden to insulate the soil and retard weed growth.
The plants were selected for bold architectural appearance and contrasting foliage that would keep this garden looking interesting the year round.
Clockwise from top, juniper, Tolson's weeping juniper, Cotinus, "Little Olie" (dwarf olive), Vitex and Plumbago.
Drip irrigation supplies water to each plant.
The shutters and door were painted a warm terra cotta.
The gray concrete walkway was acid stained a golden sand color for an inexpensive and fast color infusion that compliments the gardens.
We top-dressed the garden with 3" of mulch to retard weed growth and preserve soil moisture.
Mulch is a finishing detail every garden should have.
The Plant List for your consideration: (Most plants suitable for Sunset zones 15-24)
Trees: "Tolson's Weeping Juniper"
Shrubs : Cotinus, Dwarf Barberry,Festuca glauca, Plumbago,Phormium tenax,Olea "Little Olie," Pennisetum-(red fountain grass), Lantana camara "yellow," Salvia sinaloensis, Verbena bonariensis, Vitex
Ground Covers: Erigonum "Santa Barbara Daisy," Sedum sieboldii. Asteriscus maritimus-"gold coin"
Other Resources on Xeriscaping Around the Country
"Garden Transformations" on LawnReform.org ( I'm a founding member!)