Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

“Put a berm on it!”

Okay… so those of you that watch Portlandia are cracking up at the title, but those of you that don’t, why in the world not!?!?!?

We had this problem area of the yard where a pool used to be.  It was filled in prior to us purchasing our home, but the area continued to sink, especially after heavy rains.  In fact, after a heavy rain there would be dangerously large sink-holes.  With all the extra dirt dug up from the DG parking area, I realized this the perfect place for berms!  Finally a solution to this ongoing problem!  As the biggest problem area continues to sink, the dirt from the berm will just fall in.  This area is not going to sink that much more, but trying to keep the area flat is a losing battle.

two berms are living fences to define vegetable gardenIt meant I had to scrap my idea of the fenced in veggie garden area, but when you get into a project I am learning that you have got to be flexible.  I came up with a design for two “berm fences” instead.  The berms surround my veggie garden area and I will plant them up with Texas native trees (not shade trees), grasses, and perennials.  They will provide the function I desired in the fence.  There are a lot of ugly things that happen in a veggie garden, and I wanted it to be a place all on its own where I don’t have to be diligent about rolling the hose up and putting things away all the time.   Veggie garden entranceAbove you can see the entrance to the veggie area. – I am going to do a rustic cedar stave arbour at the vegetable garden entrance.how the spaces relateIn this picture you can see how the spaces relate to one another.  We also put a water-line in with hose hook-up similar to what you see in a campground so I have a place to keep all my hoses and water easily.  berm baby berm!I like the way the berms define the spaces.  We were lacking that BIGTIME in this yard…as we were terrain changes.  This yard was completely flat with a concave old sunken pool area.  planted up this will look cool at nightI also like the way the berms make the beer garden area super private.  I think it will look pretty with lots of movement and color to look at while hanging out.  I got all the rocks for free…I still need to pick up more.  I did not want the dirt running onto the granite.  I left the front of the other berm more gradual and did not place rocks on its front.  I think I may even plant some frogfruit up it so the kids have a little hill to roll down.private and intimate firepit/entertaining areaI got a little start planting, but I have a looooong way to go.  Now that the bones are in and the spaces are defined, let the fun begin!  I plan to take my time and I will likely do what I usually do and plant the bulk of everything in the fall when it is 50% off and a better time of year to plant in central Texas anyways.  I am also looking forward to playing with plants that need super good drainage, I finally have that!



  1. “Put a berm on it” – Ha, Ha! I think the berms are a fantastic idea. They add more visual interest. A rustic cedar arbour sounds very cool!

    • Thanks Steph – it was a big commitment and one that I am just now feeling more comfortable about and actually really excited about. I was scared it would look stupid!!!! Your comment is reassuring, so thank you very much because I needed it. -xericstyle

  2. I have used berms a couple of times as part of a landscaping solution. I think they always add interesting detail.

    • I am glad you think so – I have never had a berm or created one before…this is all new territory for me. I am looking forward to planting them up. -xericstyle

  3. Good thinking. I always believe that a plan in essential but also that it is important to be flexible when you discover problems or just things you didn’t know about. Will you grow anything up the arbour? Is there a native climber that doesn’t need water? In Europe we use Chinese and Japanese wisteria that doesn’t seem to need any water, creates great shade and the flowers are beautiful. Christina

    • Thanks Christina – as I learn to be a better gardener, I am learning to be more flexible. I have a few native vines I am thinking about – low water for sure. Thanks for the Wisteria tip, I’ll check those out before I decide too. -xericstyle

  4. That’s a good solution to the problem. Your back garden is looking good quickly too.

    A caution on wisteria, it is very pretty but they will become out-of-control pests in our mild climate. Best to stick with some of our excellent natives.

    • I hope it proves to be. Time will tell….although so far, so good. Thank you for the wisteria warning – I appreciate very much. I love having a San Antonio opinion at my fingertips. Cheers! – xericstyle

  5. I think you have the start of a fun new blog meme here — Put a berm on it! I’m cracking up over the video of Put a Bird on It. I’ve never seen Portlandia, so it was all new (and funny) to me. I love your berm idea, and yes, good drainage is a very good thing for all our beautiful Hill Country and Mexico natives.

    • Oh wonderful! Now you just need to catch up on the seasons so you are ready for the next one. It is BEYOND FUNNY! Every episode is independent actually…so you don’t really need to catch up – but you are missing out so get on that A.S.A.P :) I am running like a chicken in the yard wondering where to go next! Although our tax return is soooooo spent …so it may be time to mulch everything in and wait until fall….nurturing what I have done. -xericstyle

  6. Desert Dweller

    I need to re-read this, to really get why there’s no vegetable area there from the sinking, but berms and privacy are good, too. I wonder if they will settle, too?

    • What do you mean, specifically? If this helps…the berm behind the firpit is where the greatest sinking issue was/is. The other areas/berm/ flat veg area the sinking seemed to stop. I hope the berms settle more – especially the one behind the pit…it is a little steep?????

  7. I love the new elevation change! I will always be a fan of making outdoor spaces more private. Let me know if you want any agave pups to stick in there– I have weberi pups coming out my ears, and also a smaller, super cold hardy blue variety.

    • Oh wow – thank you! I am about to google “weberi”! Sweet! -xericstyle

      • I googled – I love that agave. I see it around here and I have wondered the cultivar – I like how the leaves have a thinner, almost yucca, profile. Sign me up! -xericstyle

  8. I will pot one up for you!

  9. BTW, I am having a shindig for the Austin garden bloggers next Saturday. I know it’s a drive for you, but wanna come?

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