Ideas for flower garden beds....

patty_cakesApril 25, 2012

I've taken the plunge and had the backyard completely removed, now I need ideas of what I should do with the empty space. I've had trees/bushes(Crepe Myrtle/Wax Myrtle/Plum trees)planted around the perimeter of the yard, which is a good start. I also had 5 yards of soil brought in, but don't know if that's enough to begin planning and planting beds.

First, do I need to put any sort of weed preventer on top of the new soil so I don't get those dang dandelions or other weeds?

How do I go about creating *mounds* with soil? Do I need a base that won't wash away, or just compact it good?

What sort of beds will do best in a westerly location? I want to incorporate small bushes as well as perennials/annuals?

If you have ANY ideas, I would greatly appreciate them~~pics too!! ;o)

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's my first question..when you say you had the back yard completely removed what do you mean? How was it done?

Did you have grass back there? If so what kind? Is it just bare dirt now? Do you have beds marked off?

It would help some to know what part of Texas you are in, how much sun the area you are talking about gets, and what are your goals?
Do you want something you can plant and forget about (won't happen) or are you willing to work on things over time and put in the hours and water necessary?

There are tons more questions to be asked before we can get to the point of "how" to do it.

Hang in there and you'll get on the road to getting what you want.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Melva, thank you so much for coming to my rescue~~looks like you're the only taker!

#1/the yard was completely dug on on Tue., by HAND! The landscaper didn't think *my* suggestion of using a tiller was a good one since all that would do is bring more clay to the surface.

#2/Yes, I had some grass(St. Augustine), but last year decided to let it die, so didn't use fertilizer this spring or last fall. It was sporadic grass, at best. Several yards of soil have been brought in, leveling off the space. I've only marked off what will be the flagstone patio, which will connect w/the existing patio.

#3/i'm in Austin, zone 8, dry and HOT, w/the majority of the day getting full sun(west). My goal is to have several smaller beds w/pathways, and absolutely no grass. Don't want a garden that doesn't need some 'tending' since I like being outdoors, and 'messing in the dirt'. I'm hoping to have something close to a cottage garden over the next few years. I don't mind the work, but would like to reduce the amount of water after the plants are firmly established.

I DO know i'm trying to create something in a few years that will look like it's been around for a long time. The trees that were planted are 4-7 years old, and are fairly fast growing~i'll have some shade by next summer. One of the corners seems to be shaded, and I was wondering how Hostas or ferns would do under the tree there since it seems to remain damp for quite a few days after watering.

I appreciate you're trying to help with what could be a major undertaking, but I feel it will be worth it in the end. ;o)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm so glad to see that you are very clear on your goals! You know exactly what you want. That's the biggest part of the battle!
There are several posters here from your zone who have posted beautiful photos of their gardens over in the gallery. I'm sure once they've seen this post of yours they will chime in plenty to help you out!

Right now, for that shady moist area I would suggest getting some fern in there. Wood Fern is native to Texas and should do really well in there. Hostas would probably work there as well if you can keep up with the pill bugs and slugs. :)

Holly Fern should be evergreen which is a huge plus in my book and its very easy to find.

There is a wealth of info for beginning from scratch laying out your landscaping to be found in the Landscaping forum.
I would suggest you start now.. reading at least most of the threads on the first 2-3 pages.. even the ones not for you zone--just to get the hang of what to do when laying things out. Some of them are long but you'll understand what to do first and why. Feel free to post in that forum but be ready to post pictures of the area. They like to see what you're dealing with.

Landscape Design Froum

Get everything laid out on paper.. a general diagram of your beds and paths. Then decide what to use to outline the beds, what kind of path materials you want to use.
There is a nice discussion in the Cottage Garden Forum about paths you might want to take a look at.


Once your hard scaping is figured out you'll know where to put your plants even if you haven't finished building the hard scaping and not have to move things around too much later.

I usually save photos I like in a folder so I can look at them later. Don't be afraid to change your mind on something when you see something you think is better.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Awww melva, you're a real sweetheart to take so much time with a question i'm sure you've seen posted 100 times!

I was over on the landscaping forum, but didn't see much I was interested in, but will scroll down some more~~I could be missing some good ideas/directions.

Not sure what Wood Fern or Holly Fern look like, but will find pictures. I love those beautiful Hostas so will probably make an attempt w/them. Would you have any ideas for a climbing rose other than the white Iceberg? I would really like a pink climber, with a good-size bloom.

LOL~~as one woman to another, you don't have to remind me I can change my mind. I know that's *always* an option. LOL

Thanks again for ALL your suggestions!!!

ps~~I had a best friend named Melva back in IL. It's not a name you hear often. She was named after her Dad, Melvin, first born daughter of 6 kids. ;o)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 12:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Its not that the threads in the landscape forum directly apply to your situation.. its the theory and process of developing a plan that you'll find there. You'll learn things you've never thought about when reading those threads. At least I do.

One issue that may be of concern is drainage. If your yard is all level, where is the water going to go when there is a heavy rain?

There are sight lines to consider... is there any view you want to block? Both looking out and looking in.

I'm not a big rose person, but there are several here on the forum. You might want to ask for rose suggestions in another post so they will be more likely to see it.

You might get some ideas at the link below. Be sure to look at all the before and after pictures.

If you see something that knocks your socks off get the url of the page and post it here asking any questions you want. We'll be glad to help you figure it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: native landscapes

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How exciting! Any you have Sun so you can have a great time with all sorts of seeds that attract butterflies and bees in at least part of it.

When I took over the front lawn...yes I did! I left a patch of it and while it looks pretty, it is annoying to have to mow even that much.

The first thing I did was gover the yard with newspaper wet it and put the good stuff on top. That took a long time to break down so your hard work will pay off.

When I did mounds, I took clay from one area and put it where I wanted a mound. We have red clay here and it is hard but holds some moisture. We also laid flagstone pathways and put in a fountain in the middle.

But that come over time. If you aren't certain what you want and how it will behave, you might try moving the soil around, seeing how and where it drains, play with some seeds and plants that can later be moved if need be and enjoy!

If you do know just what you want, drainage may be your biggest challenge and greatest gift. Make your mounds where the runoff feeds others but has a place to go when the torrential downpour comes.

Oh, recently I heard of someone so excited about his new beds. Planted them only to discover that the soil was full of nut sedge. I hope that doesn't happen for you.

I can't wait to see what you do with it. It sounds like you have a great beginning...and a lot of shoveling to do.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 11:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You might be able to glean some useful ideas from the Austin garden bloggers. By way of example, you might try Go Away I'm Gardening!, Digging, The Sun Is Killing Me and Lazy Shady Gardener. These will list links to other Austin bloggers.

I don't see any serious shade trees mentioned here. Most Austinites will expect to see these in a back yard. The Monterrey oak seems to have become the tree of choice.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I was also going to suggest checking out some garden blogs. I've been looking through a couple trying to find some posts about no grass back yards. I love what East Side Patch has done with their back yard. You may not want to use as many thorny plants as they do, but you can get an idea of how lush it can look with grasses, clumping bamboos, salvias, etc.

The biggest problem for me when first starting was laying out a plan of beds and paths. Once that is done you can concentrate on what plants to use. Before the internet days and we relied on books. I got a lot of ideas from Sally and Andy Wasowski books such as 'Native Texas Plants, Landscaping Region by Region'. Check out bookstores and libraries for other newer books. Maybe there will be some suggestions forthcoming.

This is all I've had time to come up with so far.

Here is a link that might be useful: Central Texas Gardener video about East Side Patch ...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Sorry, I didn't say it was the third video down. Below is the video to which I meant to refer you.

Here is a link that might be useful: East Side Patch

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

You may see some other videos to check out too ...

Here is a link that might be useful: Third time's a charm ....

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's an older thread with links to lots of Texas Blogs. Many of the earlier ones posted haven't been updated in a long while.. but the more recent ones have.
A lot of them are from areas very close to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Garden Blogs

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No pics yet since my camera is "out of commission"(thanks to my 6 year old grandson!), but want to give an update for anyone interested. We're on to the second phase, creating a stacked flagstone border, giving the trees/bushes more prominence. It curves gently, and is 3 stones high, just enough to add a little interest. The "paint line" has also been drawn for the semi circle patio that will connect with the existing cement patio. There will be a pathway coming off this patio leading to a semi-shaded back corner where i'll create a small seating area out of the flagstone. Another semi circle flower bed will be under my bedroom windows(opposite the patio)where i'll have climbing roses as well as flowers/dwarf bushes. The work on the flagstone will continue on Monday.

It's *my* vision that's doing the creating, and it won't be only a large, flat area~~i'm creating mounds thru-out the yard, not huge, but noticeable.

I'm very excited seeing it come to fruition, and like to think of it as my place where i'll have my little talks with God. Since i'm "getting up there", I feel in years to come when the trees are bigger, my "park-like garden" will be my sanctuary, hopefully year round.

A big part of my budget is going for the flagstone/crushed granite/mini-chips(mulch), and other materials used to cover the bare ground~~remember, I have NO grass. I feel it's really necessary to give separation to various areas and *hopefully* i'll get the look I want.

Create the space, and plants will follow!

Stay posted! ;o)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 5:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for the update! It sounds like you're well on your way.

I was thinking of you last night when I read the thread linked below.
There is tons of info for a yard with no grass and how to make it look good.

Here is a link that might be useful: no grass yard

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not altogether convinced that xeriscape water rationing and "cottage style" are a good mix.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

patty, sounds like you're well are on your way. You might try Pam Penick's Facebook page below. She's the author of the Austin "Digging" blog and is writing a book about lawn alternatives. She has some good pictures of no grass cottage style gardens.

Xeriscaping and cottage gardens go together very well as long as you stick to a Texas cottage theme. Native and well adapted plants will give you the cottage look and after they are established are pretty low maintenance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn Alternatives

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Posted a picture in the image gallery

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 7:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for coming back to hurrah me on even further, and for more pictures, melva and txspice! At the moment the plants aren't the issue, it's planning the space and the layout to accommodate the plants~i'm trying to *think* in small increments.LOL

whitecap2, I wasn't really thinking of xeriscaping when I started planning the backyard~I just couldn't stand *that* St. Augustine anymore and still have it in the front yard(it will be 'dealt with' later). Anyway, less water is always good since I don't even use the dishwasher, and am almost fanatical when it comes to wasting.

Cottage 'style', was 'in my head', but not necessarily plants you would find in a cottage garden because of the drought-like conditions~~don't want the mess of too many perenials/annuals either. That's why small bushes and other plants will work better, imo. I watched my best friend with her cottage garden, and before she knew it, her plants had gone wild and she was spending way too much time weeding. She eventually had to pull out a lot of plants which meant MORE work and a loss of time AND money!

melva, cynthia, roselee, adn whitecap2, I also want to thank you for suggesting various blogs~~very helpful and makes for great reading of what others have done. Now I have to finish reading what I did't have time for earlier. Thanks again! ;o)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 2:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

Patty, I remember you from the cottage forum.
I moved to a different house Nov. of 2007. Now I have grass paths and the rest is beds. Let me know if you want any pictures.

plantmaven at gmail dot com

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

plantmavem, i've been 'coming and going' for a little while. and have finally decided to stop talking and DO something! LOL

I would LOVE to see some pictures! Did you do only the back yard or the front too?

Bring 'em on!! ;o)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

In the beginning, Feb 08

Sept. 08....7 mos later

This spring

I am putting this one so you can see how well some columbines do here. They really give a cottage look.

Copper canyon daisy

This was after a storm last year, but you can see the path better.

Before the arbor was torn up'

Early spring before the grass greened up

June 09

May 09

March 09 before the brick border was installed.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 8:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

We have semi-annual plant swaps here in San Antonio. The next one is most likely Oct. 13. The date is not firm yet.
Several people come from out of town. Come on down!

I think there is a spring swap in Kyle, but I have not been. You might post a guestion regarding that.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 8:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As someone who lived in Austin, may I humbly suggest that you buy the mulch *first*.

You can take your time planting & putting in hardscape if you don't have to fight weeds.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 5:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Burntplants, I was planning to use the mulch *on top* of the fabric~~no?? I want to be asssured i'm not setting myself up for extra work.

I have the hardscape in and am going to step #2 on *my* list since it's me doing all the planning of this landscape *project*. I'll accept the errors/mistakes, too. ;o)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:52PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
WANTED: San Antonio Plant Swap
Mark your calendars: Sat., April 18, 9 am, Rogiers...
Plant Quiz: What are these?
Here's a quiz. I pulled these seeds from a plant in...
Christopher (Dallas Garden) Miller
Please name this succulent.
Bought from Lowes sale rack and it just had a generic...
roselee z8b S.W. Texas
Can you ID this bird?
These pictures are from Carrie. Can you ID this bird? Thank...
roselee z8b S.W. Texas
Need suggestions for a privacy hedge along my fence line
My backyard is about 3/4 of an acre and our HOA requires...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™