Low-Water Front-Yard Makeover
How to add curb appeal without raising your water bill
Rocks covered the front yard when Ken and Beverly Behymer bought this house in Grants Pass, Oregon. But summers here are hot, and the couple yearned for a more inviting garden, one that wouldn’t bake in the sun or raise their water bill by much.
Landscape architect Jim Love’s solution: Add mostly low-water plants that give the yard all-season appeal. Now drifts of unthirsty black-eyed Susans, fountain grass, gaura, and Genista lydia provide color; blue star creeper and Sedum spurium ‘Red Carpet’ fill the spaces between pavers.
Because of the rock landscaping, the soil directly beneath was nearly unplantable. The few existing trees―a windmill palm to the right of the front entry, and a purple beech and Himalayan birches (Betula jacquemontii) on opposite ends of the property―did little to cool the space.
Oriental fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale) puts out white plumes that mature to khaki. Flame grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Purpurascens’) has green foliage that turns flaming orange just before frost; it lines the inside of the low wall Both take the place of lawn in the Behymers’ garden.