Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

xericstyle is 1! A review…

Lets start at the beginning shall we…House as we bought itHere is the front of our home before we started anything with the exterior.  I was busy scrubbing and working on the interior.  Yes, imagine what that looked like.  It was bad…BAAAAAD!Back of house "Before"Here was the back of the house.  Note the rotten posts – if you leaned on them, they swung freely and you fell down.  Seriously.  I have no idea how that patio was standing.  The roof and siding looks like it is rotting off too, because it was in many places!DSC_1015 We started replacing all of the rotten siding…bit by bit.  My Daddy’O (who can do basically anything) helped us, and taught us, so we could continue when his visit was over.  It took us months and we did not complete the siding project until this year.   We contracted new hardiplank fascia, as well as some finishing touches, out to the roofers as we did not want to be on ladders that high.  So painting waited and waited…DSC_0921 My hubby and Daddy’O, working HARD!  It was….a MESS.  DSC_0866This picture cracks me up, we used a car jack and fence post to jack up the covered patio enough to get each old post out, measure it, cut the new cedar one, and slip the new post in.  We had to do each post one by one, front and back of the house.   Good times. ;)  You can see part of the blank slate backyard in the background.  House back new postsThe back of the house improving with the straightening out of the lines, no more rotten siding, new cedar posts, new garage doors, and a small garden bed by the A/C unit.  We are finally ready for a roof and paint – Time to dress up and accessorize this beauty…now that she has good bones.Sketch of front garden plans The plans for the front garden…Ha! Ha!  Oh well, they worked!  I did not want boring, water guzzling grass.  I wanted texture and structure and butterflies and sustainability…well basically I want it all – still do.  BUT I am willing to work hard for it.

House BEFOREThe bones of the front garden are in!  And like the back of the house, the lines are straightened out, new posts, no more rotten anything!  We are ready for the roof and paint…except…The action!…the sky rocket juniper needed to go in a big way.  Before the roof and paint in case we had any mishaps.  Thankfully it all went smoothly, you can see that here.Pittosporum tobiraIt is incredible what a new roof and new paint can do.  Also, painting the brick was a good choice.  The old brick color brought the house down, and it needed an update.  The gardens are filling in nicely, but that hedge has got to go!Yay!  Now I can implement my plan for this space!Ahhhhhhh, now that is better….more welcoming….and open…property line definition complete!Color…texture…the house and yard is alive.  People live here…live and grow here.  Our family now shares our yard with many creatures thanks to having food/nectar sources and shelter.  The soil health has drastically improved as well, as evidenced by a drastic increase in earthworms.Other side is also now definedI defined the property lines, yet the property appears larger, more open and inviting than it ever did before.  Rocks now line the front bedsWe finally have more vertical interest thanks to two new desert willow trees…and I will continue to work on this more next year.  fenceAs for the backyard…I still have my work cut out for me.  There is A LOT to do, but I need to nail down my plans first.  Just like the front yard, the backyard did not have the bones of even one existing garden bed to work with. Well I have dirt …that is something.  I need to design the bones, and beds, in the back just like I did in the front before I can really start.  I did, however, break down three small areas and completed those at least.  Not a huge deal, but they did make some impact.  One of those areas is the new chicken coop/yard – this was a very exciting realization of a dream…and continues to bring much joy to our family.   Bamboo muhly/color guard yucca comboAnother small backyard project was the side-yard make-over.

I also continued the hedge line for more privacy in the backyard with xylosma congestum for its disease resistance and fast growth, you can check that out here.  A privacy fence is not going up on this looooong stretch any time soon.  So far it is working out well and I am super impressed with its drought tolerance and fast growth.  The new xylosma growth and black berries are also really pretty.

And lastly, the small A/C bed that has no sun for several months of the year, and then gets blasted full on for several months still needs a little work but looks a million times better than it did!

I look forward to next year.  My focus will be to complete the planting of the front beds and then move on to creating the bones and structure of the back.  You can expect to see a lot more areas of yard getting eaten up and designed systematically space by space.

This year has been a very transformative year for the house and yard, as well as myself in the process.  I have evolved so much as a human being.  It turns out connecting with Mother Earth and setting down actual plant and tree roots has in turn rooted me more than I ever thought possible.  I have moved too many times to count in my life, and I avoided setting down roots – why bother if you are just going to move again was my old line of thought.  Planting and connecting to our property in this way has taught me so much…and changed me.  I feel such a strong sense of home and connection…and I feel empowered.  I desperately needed an outlet all my own being a stay-at-home-mama of two little ones, and I feel so incredibly thankful to have not only discovered “an outlet”, but instead to have found one of my life’s passions.  And garden blogging, for me, is the icing on the cake.  I have gained so many valuable friendships and so much knowledge and support.  I could never thank my fellow bloggers enough.  I am so fortunate to have them in my life.  They make me a better gardener and person.  I KNOW I could never have accomplished any of this without them.  You see, I am not a re-invent the wheel kind of person.  I am a learn from others that have gone before me and accomplished what I want to accomplish and build on it kind of gal.  Garden blogging has done that for me.  It is amazing what others will share with you if you just ask.  Sure you put the work in and learn as you go…become better as you go…but it is the teaching, sharing, and mentorship I needed and I have found that in this blogging community.  I am humbled and grateful to be blogging as part of this community.  An extra special thank you to Pam Penick and David Cristiani – thank you for sharing with me, my yard shows your influence (if it does not now to you I hope it will ;).

Cheers to the 1st year, but the first year is done.  I am excited about what is next to come.  Thank you to all my friends/virtual friends and family for your love and support.  It means the world to me.

Can’t wait for 2013! Bring it on!


  1. Congrats! I’m so impressed with your yard and home makeover. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

    • Thank you very much Steph – and right back at ya! – xericstyle

  2. Congratulations on your first year! You have done so much in a year and it all looks fantastic! Excellent job on a home you and your family are sure to enjoy!

    Happy New Year!

    • Thank you Shirley – I look forward to getting the back breaking stuff done soon so we can enjoy it even more. Heee! If that ever happens, it’ll be nice! Happy New year to y’all too :) – xericstyle

  3. Congrats! I can’t believe the changes that have been made. The house looks great! And I have been so blessed to read your blog. I love it! Can’t wait for year 2!!!!

    • I feel the same about you Louis! Even more so to see HOME….your blog is gardening love…and for me, also regular home visits that I so appreciate. My family is here from Chwk right now!!!! Happy 2013 pal! -xericstyle

  4. You’ve done an amazing amount in a year, well done! I’m certainly looking forward to see what you will do in the back garden. Have a great 2013, I’ll be watching with great interest. Christina

    • Thank you so much Christina, I will also be watching you with great interest, as always. :) Happy 2013 – xericstyle

  5. Found your blog through a link from another blog (Austin Native Landscaping). Nice capture of the sequence of things. I recently helped my brother rip out his (huge) front yard and replace it with a landscape that encourages the wildlife to come around. Like I’m sure your project was, it was a lot of work but the pay off in the end is worth it.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by John, I LOVE Austin Native Landscaping too! I appreciate your comments, and I agree – so far, totally worth it! -xericstyle

      • No problem and Happy New Year Xericstyle.

      • Thanks John! :)

  6. Desert Dweller

    This is amazing (and thanks for the mention!). I keep forgetting you started with a “Leave it to Beaver” house, and in such a short time have transformed it into “WOW!”. And happy to be a little part of it from far, far away! Have a great new year…this is a re-read post for sure…House & Garden Motivation 101!

    • I appreciate you so much David – thank you for everything. HAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! TOTALLY LEAVE IT TO BEAVER! HEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeee! Happy New Year friend :) – xericstyle

  7. Heather, you are ROCKING, girl! You have done so much in such a short time. I love love love your front facade transformation — the paint colors, the red circle planter on the front porch, the way the new gate ties into the painted wall. I also love that you’ve shared your front-yard design and how it translated into reality (and nicely done, too!) — see, now you’re mentoring others! That’s the great thing about garden blogging. It’s a very giving community, one that I’ve learned so much from myself over the years. I’m so glad you’re here representing for San Antonio, along with Shirley. Happy blogiversary, thanks for the kind mention, and keep on blogging and gardening!

    • Pam thank you so much…for everything! And all my silly e-mails I sent to you in the beginning trying to figure out wordpress. You always answered me – and I am sure you had much to do…like writing your book (YAY)! YOU ROCK! – xericstyle

  8. Fan-freaking-tastic. I adore that front “yard,” and of course the way you modernized the front facade. You picked good mentors (which I know for a fact, beyond what I see here in the pics). Let’s get more people ripping out stupid lawn and bringing in wildlife that heal us physically and mentally, and make our kids smarter and more adaptable! Adaptable landscapes = adaptable people, right?

    • OOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo I love that – “adaptable landscapes = adaptable people.” So true. Thank you so much for stopping by today, and for your comments. I appreciate them very much. I look forward to surfing your site tonight, took a glimpse today – love your gardens!!!!! – xericstyle

  9. BTW, I linked to this post on my Lawn Alternatives Facebook page today. Thanks for the lawn-free inspiration! https://www.facebook.com/lawnalternatives

    • Sniff sniff – thank you Pam!!!!!!! This is the best day EVER! – xericstyle

  10. Wow! I can’t believe you did all of this in just one year. The transformation is amazing. I can’t wait to see what you have planned for this year.

    • Hey Michael! How are you up there? Chilly here! Thank you so much – this means a lot. I enjoy reading your blog very much. Happy New Year! -xericstyle

  11. Love, love, love this makeover! You have much to be proud of. I look forward to your backyard progress as well. So it looks like you may be going to the SF Fling, is that right? If so, I’ll see you there!

    • Thank you so much Jean! I appreciate that very much. It is in the plans for me to go – and I can’t wait…for many reasons INCLUDING a MAMA BREAK! Yay! Heeeee! -xericstyle

  12. Mike

    Wow. The yard is looking great. In love the hand drawn design plans. The tall grasses by the curb look great.

    • Awe – thanks Michael. You can tell we have been friends for 10 plus years…you like my drawing? HAAAAAAAAaaaaa! Yeah right! Love y’all. -xericstyle

  13. Hi, I found your blog through one of my favorite stores, Austin Landscaping. i live in Dallas and last year we ripped out ALL of the grass in our backyard and replaced it with sustainable plants and perennials…hostas, knock-out roses, yuccas, muhly and other grasses, along with decomposed granite for the hardscaping, accent boulders and river rock fountain from Big Bend. I LOVE it. Our latest project is ripping out all the old boring mature builder landscaping in the front…it is pretty bare right now, but I have a few roses, pinks, and grasses in there with plans to do more in the spring. With our water issues now and looming in the future, think the idea of watering grass in Texas is INSANE and I wish more people would get on board with this lovely, natural, interesting look. So much better for the environment. Keep up the good work!

    • Right on! That is AMAZING! I would love to see a picture…I am currently working and re-working my backyard design. I am intrigued by your river rock fountain from Big Bend??? (Big Bend holds a special place in my heart). I also totally agree….out with the grass already…this is Texas y’all! Thanks for stopping by Lindsey, I appreciate your comments very much! -xericstyle

  14. Wow…you really took the bull by the horns…so much accomplished in just a year’s time! Can’t wait to see what the next year brings :-)

    • Thank you so much Scott- and yes, I have a tendency to do that…sometimes it works out well, sometimes I am a little too intense – EEK! I have enjoyed your blog so much and look forward to the next year as well. – xericstyle

  15. Salma

    Your blog is so good!!!! I’ve been catching up this morning- nit only is your property and garden incredible, but your amazing spirit shines in your writing. This makes me so happy :)

    • Awe…thanks lady! -xericstyle

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