Creative Xeriscaping: Save Water With Style

An Austin landscaping firm comes up with two design solutions for saving water.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Bierchler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Mark Biechler, www.pearsonlandscape.com

Westlake Project: Build a Moat!

Mark Biechler of Pearson Landscape in Austin, Texas created a solution for a homeowner in Westlake, Texas whose home tended to flood during heavy rainfall. To solve the problem, a moat was built around the house (designed by Gregory Thomas of CG&S Design Build).

Westlake Project: Step 1, Bring On the Heavy Equipment

The crew gets busy building their first line of defense against flooding - an elongated mound called a berm which will be transformed into an attractive garden bed for native plants upon completion.

Westlake Project: Step 2, Dig it!

It might look like the beginnings of a man made creek but this three foot deep moat is going to trap and reroute that recurring rainwater runoff.

Westlake Project: Step 3, Rock and Roll

The down and dirty part of the job includes breaking up large rocks and setting them aside for later use as structural support.

Westlake Project: Step 4, Call in the Reinforcements

The newly dug moat is now ready for boulders, stacked in two layers, that will become the foundation walls.

Westlake Project: Step 5, Curves in All the Right Places

The final phase for the moat, which curves around the house, is to add a gravel bed. Besides adding a pleasing landscape feature to the yard, it will also help move and redistribute excess water into the ground.

Westlake Project: Step 6, Walk This Way

A newly designed elevated walkway provides a more enticing entrance to the home while acting as another barrier against flooding.

Westlake Project: Step 7, Ready for a Beauty Treatment

The front yard berm is now ready for landscapers to disguise its true purpose as a water barrier by turning it into a bedding area with curb appeal.

Westlake Project: Step 8, Go Native!

To help establish the berm as a natural defense against street flooding, the mound is landscaped with native plants in the manner of a typical rain garden which conserves ground water.

Westlake Project: Step 9, Beautiful Containment

Bordered by new grass and native plantings, the moat not only sports a beautiful looking natural design but it is also ready to handle the worst rainstorms. 

Westlake Project: The Makeover is Complete

Check out the completed front entrance in all of its glory, looking much more stylish and inviting than before.

Westlake Project: Envy of the Neighborhood

The full effect of the renovated yard and entrance is visible in this view from the far end of the front yard. You can see how the natural landscaping adds color and texture to the yard while protecting it from street flooding. 

Westlake Project: More Out Back

Just as aesthetically pleasing as the front yard makeover is the newly reconstructed back yard which presents an organic, natural landscape designed for water conservation.

Westlake Project: Bring On the Rain

Let it rain, let it pour. This house can now easily handle water as deep as 8 inches or more in its gravel covered moat that redistributes the excess. To appreciate the work involved in this installation, refer back to image 1 when the moat was being dug. 

Arroyo Project: The Dry Creek Design

The second project by Mark Biechler of Pearson Landscape in Austin, Texas involved creating an arroyo (dry creek bed) between two properties that would effectively handle storm water runoff and also serve as photogenic xeriscaping.

Arroyo Project: Step 1, Groundbreaking

The property line between the two homes is where storm water runoff seeps into the foundations of both residences. Together the homeowners split the costs of creating a dry creek that would handle this situation.

Arroyo Project: Step 2, Heavy Lifting Required

Grass and plantings have been removed from the side yard in preparation for the installation of these large boulders as retaining walls for the dry creek bed.

Arroyo Project: Step 3, Hardscape Ingredients

Here is a good view of the dry creek foundation being created with rocks and gravel and integrated into the front yard design.

Arroyo Project: Step 4, Natural Defenses

The two layers of boulders will serve to reinforce and protect the house from any water trying to enter from the left yard while directing excess water in the dry creek to the front of the house.

Arroyo Project: Step 5, The Slant Solution

Due to the sloping angle of the yard near the fence, the arroyo needs to run the length of the house from the front to the back in order to effectively withstand the effects of flooding from excess rain.

Arroyo Project: Step 6, A Rain Garden to Share

Landscapers are installing native plants on the property between the two houses which will act as a rain garden, absorbing the water and directing it underground where it will be distributed and conserved.

Arroyo Project: Ready for Action

This street view of the completed dry creek shows how on the far left, any excess water will be channeled over the gravel and large rock slabs into the gutter.

Arroyo Project: The Waterfall Effect

Notice the dry creek bed design and imagine how it will look during a heavy rain when the water will be routed over the gravel and rocks creating a small, natural looking waterfall effect.

Arroyo Project: Suitable for Framing

Looking back toward the front of the house, you can see the completed arroyo which is enhanced by the attractive border plantings and a natural design that takes advantage of the rocky terrain.

Arroyo Project: Double Duty Beauty

Many native plantings along the arroyo help conserve water while adding color and decoration such as Yucca rostrata (in the foreground), Mexican feathergrass to the far right, and in the background, 'Mystic Spires Blue' sage, Knockout roses and salvia.