Hardscaping For Xeriscape Gardens
You look out of the window at the end of the hot summer and see what’s left of your lawn, burned brown and in some parts down to bare dirt. You look at the latest water bill and shake your head. How can you spend so much money on something and have it look so bad? It makes you want to tear the whole thing out and replace it with gravel! If this is you …
YOU ARE ON THE WRONG PAGE
At Xeriscape Austin we only use these types of materials as part of a design plan. Hardscape has its place in a landscape, but not to the point of exclusion of plants or grass. Large areas of gravel or rock may be cheap to maintain but, let’s face it, they can look bland and boring; colorless and characterless. They also add to the “Heat Island Effect” which can raise air temperature in a city by as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit, increasing energy consumption for cooling and exacerbating pollution problems.
That being said, there’s nothing like a cool patio amid the dappled shade, or a rustic pathway leading away through the flower beds. It leads the eye and gives texture to a designed landscape.
Let’s look at some examples and discuss them from a design point of view. And look at some of our favorite materials to use …
Here we see a path at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin. The gentle curve of the gravel walkway softens the lush greenery of the landscape and leads the eye toward the next turn. Your mind asks: what is around that bend?
The decomposed granite pathway sets off the shade garden with a brightness and clarity you would not get from a similar path made of darker material. The white limestone border adds a clean edge dividing hardscape from planted beds.
Here we see a mixture of textures in a very shady back yard. The plantings here are minimal and yet still pleasing to the eye. The pathway of Cibolo rock curves through the yard organically from house to shed to back gate. The bed areas are mulched with Tejas Black rock to great effect and accents are provided by large limestone boulders and plant containers. It is a combination that highlights how effective simple but well thought out design can be.
And here is a nice combination of hardscape and landscape. Again, the patio and pathway curve away through the yard drawing the eye. Planter beds around the tree and borders of the garden form the colorful backdrop, and a small grassy area in the center completes the picture.
All the elements of good design are here and the results are not only pleasing to the eye but demonstrate that a proper amalgamation of elements can result in a beautiful xeriscaped garden.
Always bring a balance to the landscape. Remember that Xeriscape is all about harmony and does not exclude things like areas of turf grass or hardscaping. Bringing it all together is a challenge, but also an opportunity to express yourself in the combinations offered by plant material and stone textures. The possibilities are nearly endless.