Large expanses of lawn simply aren’t practical here in South Texas. But for decades it’s been the standard in landscape design.
The truth is a lawn demands an absurd amount of upkeep in the form of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and ritualistic cutting with carbon-spewing machines, creating an environmental monoculture that robs pollinators of valuable food.
Do you enjoy being robbed of precious hours every weekend just to keep shallow rooted and water-needy turf grass alive? If you’re constantly replacing turf and pouring precious water onto areas of thin, patches of pitiful-looking grass, then it’s time to listen up. Your landscape is trying to tell you something.
Be realistic, and follow nature’s lead.
- Go native. Though not all of San Antonio has poor, thin soils over crumbly limestone rock, our drought-prone environment makes large expanses of turf difficult to manage. Become familiar with what does grow well here. Native and even well-adapted gardens don’t have to be in the form of yucca and cactus. My personal favorites are soft and symmetrical acacia trees, richly fragrant almond verbena and the American beautyberry with its deep purple berries and soft arching branches. Here is some local inspiration.
- Hardscape. Outdoor living is tops! And with our typically mild winters and pleasant spring and fall weather, lots of it can be done throughout the year. Crushed granite patios, flagstone porches and even shady orchard-like groves of native trees are doable in urban or suburban settings of any size and easy to maintain.
- Nix the sprinklers. Just because you have a sprinkler system, doesn’t mean you actually need it. Did that triple-digit water bill last August make you cringe? Blame the sprinkler system that was set to run at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for two hours each at 20 gallons per minute. That’s over 20,000 gallons of water per month.