Extreme Lawn Makeover… Low-Water Plants Take Over!
By Los Angeles garden designer and TV host Shirley Bovshow
Water is a precious commodity these days and in my work as a landscape designer, I’m known for replacing thirsty lawns with colorful low-water gardens. 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. Free entertainment!
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.