North Texas Wildscape - Before & After

A before and after of Rajesth J.'s Dallas, TX home.

A before and after of Rajesh J.'s Dallas, TX area home.

A Q & A with High Country Gardens' customer Rajesh J.

How would you describe your garden?

I call it an English garden with a Texas twist. I would estimate it’s around 1000 square feet, about 80 feet long x 12-15 feet deep.

What inspired you to create it?

In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, most people just have huge lawns—Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass. They use sprinklers.

My water bills were a lot higher than my neighbors, so I decided to cut down on the water usage. I happened to stumble upon your website and picked up a few ideas there. Most of the plants are from High Country Gardens.

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-before

Before: Water Loving Bermuda Grass
Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-J-After-front

After: A Water-Thrify Perennial Garden

If someone wanted to create a similar transformation to their landscape, what advice would you give them?

Invest in good soil. We have clay here; people call it ‘black gumbo.’ It is highly alkaline. None of the plants would have survived if I hadn’t amended the soil. It’s a one-time investment. Follow good practices.

Learn about the plants before planting them. I lost a lot of plants that looked good in catalogs but weren’t suited for the conditions here.

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-J-During

If he could do it over? "I wouldn’t put in a lawn to start with," said Rajesh.

If you could do it over, is there anything you’d do differently?

I wouldn’t put in a lawn to start with. I should have just started with getting good soil and began from there. Instead of a regular sprinkler system, I would have put in a drip irrigation system at the start.

This is what I’d do in hindsight. As it was, I had to kill the grass that was there. I don’t like to use chemicals, but Bermuda grass is hard to kill, I had to use Roundup, three times. The best time to do it is when it is growing.

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-J-year-1-after-planting

Rajesh J.'s freshly planted garden.

How long has the transformation taken you?

The first year, all my plants were from High Country Gardens; they were premium plants in 5-inch pots. I expected magic to happen, but some did not grow more than 10 inches that first year. I remember calling one of the HCG agents to ask, “What am I doing wrong?” She told me that I need to remember that perennials take some time—first they sleep, then they creep and then they leap. That’s what happened the third year—they came together. So you have to be patient.

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-J-During-year-3

The second year of growth, when the plants 'creep.'

What are your favorite plants?

Agastache is my favorite –I just like it because it is low maintenance, the hummingbirds love it, and the rabbits don’t eat it. My second favorite is penstemon. I also like salvia/sages and ornamental oreganos, because they are low maintenance and easy to grow.

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-J-After-front-year-3

Year three, when perennials "leap."

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your garden?

The other thing I find satisfying and interesting and look forward to are the random plants that just start happening. For instance, the Salvia farinacea that is in the middle of the photo. I did not buy it and I did not plant it.

The same goes with one of the Agastaches. It showed up last year and I let it grow. It bloomed this year. Something crossed with it, similar to the ‘Desert Sunrise’ that I planted. It is pinker and has a different smell to it, with a hint of turpentine. The rabbits don’t bother it.

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-May-after

The perennial garden in May.

What benefits have you seen by creating this garden?

The biggest benefit I see is a lot of wildlife activity. Before I did this I never saw a hummingbird. Now they hang out nine months of the year and only go home for the winter.

We’ve got birds, bees, toads, frogs, an occasional snake or two, and lots of bunnies. At first, I would plant things that would be gone the next day, so I would look for rabbit resistant plants. Everything I plant is rabbit resistant or has a fragrance or smell that rabbits don’t like.

My backyard is shaded, so I have to follow a totally different strategy there, but overall, I try to use less pesticide and more organic fertilizer, and create a better environment.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has designated my yard as a certified backyard wildlife habitat.The program is affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation, where people can fill out paperwork, send photos in and get Texas Wildscape Certification.

To learn more visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/wildscapes/best_of_texas_certification.phtml)

Share your garden transformation with High Country Gardens and you could be featured on our website and in our next catalog!

Click here to send us your garden!

Dallas-Garden-Rajesh-J-After-Hesperaloe-balloon-flower /

Shown here: Salvia (pink, left), Balloon Flower (purple, left), Catmint/Nepeta (purple, right), Yarrow/Achillea (yellow), Hesperaloe (tall, background) and Apple Blossom Grass/Gaura (white, left)

Entire Plant List

Perennials:

  • Mounding Rosemary
  • Agastache "Desert Sunrise"
  • Agastache "Blue Blazes"
  • Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame Acanthus)
  • Aquilegia species (Columbine) 'Swallowtail'(R)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine) Chrysantha
  • Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly milkweed)
  • Achillea 'Paprika'
  • Achillea 'Terracotta'
  • Achillea filipendulina 'Coronation Gold'
  • Artemisia abrotanum 'Tangerine'(Wormwood)
  • Clematis
  • Caryopteris cladonensis (Blue Mist Spirea)
  • Centranthus Ruber (Jupiter's Beard)
  • Chrysanthemum maximum (Shasta Daisy)
  • Coreopsis lanceolata 'Sterntaler'
  • Coreopsis grandiflora 'Early Sunrise' (Similar to Jethro Tull variety)
  • Echinacea pupurea
  • Geranium 'Rozanne' (Cranesbill)
  • Geranium 'Johnsons Blue' (Cranesbill)
  • Gladiolus
  • Guara Lindheimeri 'Cloud of Butterflies"
  • Guara Lindheimeri 'Pink Cloud"
  • Guara Lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'
  • Hesperaloe parviflora (Red Yucca)
  • Iris
  • Kniphofia 'Wayside Flame'
  • Lantana
  • Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler'
  • Monarda hybrida Lambada (Bee Balm)
  • Nepeta "Walkers Low"
  • Nolina texana (Bear grass)
  • Nolina microcarpa (Bear grass)
  • Origanum 'Amethyst Falls'
  • Origanum Libanoticum
  • Origanum Rotkugel
  • Oenothera Macrocarpa
  • Oenothera missouriensis
  • Pavonia lasiopetala (Rock Rose)
  • Penstemon 'Red Riding Hood'
  • Penstemon mexicali 'Red Rocks'
  • Penstemon strictus (Rocky Mountain Beard tongue)
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spires’
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Filigran'
  • Phlox 'Drummond'
  • Platycodon grandiflorus Mariesii (Balloon Flower)
  • Physostegia virginiana "Miss Manners" (Obedient Plant)
  • Poliomintha maderensis (Lavender Spice/Mexican Oregano)
  • Roses
  • Salvia farinacea 'Texas Violet'
  • Salvia greggii 'Black Cherry'
  • Salvia greggii 'Cherry'
  • Salvia greggii 'Maraschino'
  • Salvia nemorosa 'Marcus'
  • Salvia nemorosa 'May Night
  • Salvia greggii 'Raspberry Delight'
  • Salvia greggii 'Rose Pink'
  • Salvia greggii 'Ultra violet'
  • Salvia greggii 'Wild Thing'
  • Salvia reptans - West Texas Grass Sage
  • Scutellaria resinosa 'Smokey Hills'
  • Scutellaria 'Violet Cloud'
  • Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)
  • Stachys coccineus 'Mountain Red'
  • Stachys lavandulifolius (Pink Cotton Lambs Ear)
  • Stachys officinalis Hummelo
  • Thalictrum flavum glaucum (Yellow meadow rue)
  • Verbena tenuisecta (Moss Verbena)
  • Yucca recurvifolia (Soft Leaf Yucca)

Ornamental Grasses:

  • Nasella tenuissima (Silky Thread Grass)
  • Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass
  • Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
  • Panicum Virgatum Northwind (Feather Reed Switch Grass)

Just out of this picture to the left are:

  • Chilopsis linearis ‘Monhews’ (Desert willow)
  • Helianthus maximiliana 'Dakota Sunshine'
  • Vitex agnus-castus - actually a tree that the homeowner maintains as a shrub

There are several annuals and perennial bulbs that are under-planted as well:

  • Allium
  • Anemones
  • Linum rubrum (Scarlet Flax)
  • Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)
  • Lycoris Radiata (Spider Lilies)
  • California Poppy
  • Red Corn Poppy/Flanders Poppy
  • Ranunculus

Browse Native Plants

  • Texas Blazing Star Liatris mucronata

    $8.99

    Sale: $7.19

    Per Plant - 2.5" deep pot

  • Undaunted Ruby Muhly Grass Muhlenbergia reverchonii

    $10.99

    Sale: $8.79

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot


12 thoughts on “North Texas Wildscape - Before & After”

  • meg94

    So fantastic! As a fellow North Texas gardener, I am full on having envy! I have dreams of doing gardens like this in my front. I did a transformation in my back yard for my gift to my self for my 40th Birthday. Lots and lots of saliva and grasses. I want to add more plants mainly color, but I need to get my drippers installed. My Britt Pups love running through and hunting in the back yard.

    I so want lots of iceplant... I miss it from my El Paso garden.

    Meg, an Aggie in Frisco

  • Paula Richstein
    Paula Richstein 04/02/14 at 5:30 am

    This garden is truly stunning! I can just imagine all the mingled scents of the flowering plants on the breeze. You have created a beautiful piece of heaven here on earth for every bird, bee, butterfly and bunny that visits your home. Thank you so much for sharing your plant list.

  • Susan Du Bois
    Susan Du Bois 04/02/14 at 6:17 am

    We love the transformation! Kudos! We moved from humid Iowa to arid Colorado 7 years ago and started a similar transformation during our first year. In addition removing all our grass and replacing with water-wise plants, we also added hardscaping (stone walkway and decorative wall). We found High Country Gardens shortly after moving to Colorado and found the plant selection and accompanying information invaluable. Our transformation has inspired similar water-wise changes with a couple of neighbors, albeit on a smaller scale.

    • HCGStaff

      We'd love to see your garden Susan. Please submit your photos here: http://www.highcountrygardens.com/my-garden. Thanks for your comments! Wendy Hatoum, Marketing Manager

  • Gary Vartanoff
    Gary Vartanoff 04/02/14 at 8:07 am

    What is the tall yellow/orange flower in the picture?

    • HCGStaff

      The yellow/orange tall flower is Kniphofia. It makes a great focal point. We have several varieties available. You can view it here: http://www.highcountrygardens.com/nsearch?keywords=kniphofia

  • Susan Salzman
    Susan Salzman 04/02/14 at 8:49 am

    It's so good to see a Texas garden highlighted. Rajesh, I like the lessons that you learned. I wish new homeowners would learn them BEFORE they install useless grass areas and wasteful sprinkler systems. I've tried to explain that to relatives who are moving into new homes, but they have to learn the hard way. I guess the visiting birds left you those surprise presents. :) I love volunteer plants. They show that the area is a happy place for them. Congrats on the certified wildlife habitat designation. I'm sure you have given many people ideas on how to change their yards to bring life into the typical suburban deadscape and to save water.

  • Jay Smith

    The garden sounds wonderful, something that bees, butterflies and hummingbirds would love. However, any pesticides at all will kill two of the three endangered species and maybe harm the third. I'm disappointed about this article.

    • HCGStaff

      Hi Jay - When I interviewed Rajesh, he never mentioned pesticide use. He did use Roundup, an herbicide, to kill the grass.

      You can also kill the grass by covering it with clear plastic, and weighting it down. It will take about 3-4 weeks to solarize the grass and kill the roots.

      Everyone must make up their own minds as to their comfort level with herbicide use. Thanks for the feedback. -- Wendy Hatoum, Marketing Manager

  • Sue Ellis

    Rajesh, I also live in Dallas & I am converting my yard as I can from St. Augustine (it's beautiful, but it just takes too much water). Your yard is beautiful & the plant list will be very helpful. I already have a number of the same plants but I was unsure about others. Your idea of a "Texas English garden" is what I'm working toward also. Two years ago I converted my parkway, which was mostly weeds, into a xeriscape. Closer to the house I've planted mostly very drought tolerant plants. I am the irrigation system so I can only plant as much as I can keep watered until it gets established. I have been very impressed with how fast the plants have established themselves. I only watered the parkway twice this summer. Your work is an inspiration! Sue

  • Elizabeth

    I would like to know how the drip system is set up for Rajesh's front garden.

    • HCGStaff

      The drip irrigation I set up was a DIY project. I just replaced all the sprinkler heads in the garden with drip irrigation adapters like this: <a href="http://www.lowes.com/pd_306462-74985-67030_4294612489__productId=3426556&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=" rel="nofollow">Lowe's</a>

      and ran 1/4 inch tubing with emitters snaking through the garden as illustrated: <a href="http://www.lowes.com/pd_15816-1029-MLD-QDT100_1z0wg7b+1z0yvwn__?productId=1037987&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1%26page%3D1&facetInfo=Drip%20irrigation%20emitter%20tubing" rel="nofollow">Lowe's</a>

      Next winter, I am planning to have it professionally replaced with separate drip irrigation zones for all the flowerbeds that I can run it without fear of the watering restrictions we have.

      Thanks,
      Rajesh

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