Create a Water-Wise Yard, Part 2
By Susan Schieferle
1:13 pm,
August 11, 2023

We did it! We made the (easy) decision to say goodbye to our front lawn forever! You can do it, too!

Sod cutting method: We chose this quicker method and began one week before lawn removal by spraying the lawn with glyphosate, an herbicide. We dug around the sprinkler heads, flagged them, and capped off the ones we did not want to use [FYI, we capped off 14 out of 19!]. Using a gas-powered sod cutting machine, we cut the lawn lengthwise and crosswise, creating squares which were easy to pick up and dispose into extra green waste cans that we rented.

Raking and leveling is a tedious but critical task to remove leftover dead grass and weeds, and level the remaining soil. Next, we sprayed the entire area with a preemergent herbicide to prevent germination or survival of weed seedlings. Make sure this herbicide saturates and covers the entire area.

Irrigation changeover involved taking existing uncapped risers, converting them to pressure regulating hose line feeds with a 90-degree elbow, to a threaded reducer, and to a 25 pound pressure regulator and hose connector. Next, lines of hose were laid out along the planting area, and spaghetti tubing was run from the hose to the plant holes. Test the irrigation now.

Placement of boulders, trees, and plants was marked using a marking spray paint. Boulders were set in place. We also extended our original conventional flowerbed using 4-inch river rocks to make a curvy, more appealing border. We used the same rocks to line our curbside strip to complement this flowerbed.

Holes for plants were dug about 3 times as wide and deep as the plant roots, since our site has clay soil which does not drain well. If you have better quality loam soil, dig the holes twice as wide and deep as the root ball. Mix in some soil amendment with your existing soil.

Landscape fabric, also known as weed cloth, was laid over the entire area, cutting crisscross slits in the fabric over the planting holes. Even though we used a weed killer on the lawn and a preemergent on the top soil, we made the decision to cover our plot with a tightly woven landscape fabric to block sunlight and help deter future weeds.

Placement of permeable hardscape came next. We used flagstone stepping stones to make a path through our yard and curbside strip. Sand underneath the stones leveled them.

Planting was the fun part! After planting was complete we installed emitters on the spaghetti tubing and tested the drip irrigation again.

Mulching was next. We chose humus, an organic matter in a highly decayed state which can provide nutrients to plants and look more aesthetically pleasing until the ground cover takes over.

Done and yeah! Sit back and relax and enjoy your new water-wise landscape. Every year will bring more color and depth to your yard as the plants flourish.

Plants that we used around our three boulders were salvias and penstemons in pinks, purples, and whites. These wispy perennials provide color from spring to fall and again in years to come! We planted a mini crape myrtle (deep pink) which can be trained in a topiary shape. Around a big electrical box, we planted Texas Sage, a very water-wise shrub with tiny lavender flowers which will eventually conceal the box from our garden view. For groundcover, we selected Succulent Sedum Tricolor (with pink blooms) and Dragon’s Blood (with burgundy blooms) for an interesting color mix. A lacey Gaura, called the wand flower, welcomes visitors to our yard. Up the driveway, the Gallardia, or blanket flower, says hello, please come in!

This column is not a news article but the advice of the writer and does not reflect the views of Mid Valley Times newspaper.

About the Author

Susan Schieferle
Tulare-Kings Counties Master Gardener