Mike and Barbara Tankey (along with Paddy their playful 2 year old golden retriever) recently converted their ailing front yard into a beautiful and refreshing shade garden. Like many of us in the neighborhood, last year’s drought took its toll on their lawn. Another factor that was working against them was the increasing shade provided by the Bradford pear tree that they planted approximately 14 years ago after buying their new home. Every spring they put sod down in the increasingly large bare patches in an attempt to keep their lawn lush, but it soon became a losing battle. This Spring they tried a different tactic. They portioned-off the densely shaded section of their front yard and rotatilled the remaining grass into the soil. After stripping out the grass roots and leveling the soil, they mulched the entire area, then added splashes of color by planting clusters of shade-loving plants and flowers. Several pieces of yard art and pottery further enhance the setting.
The front yard transformation actually started a couple of years ago with Mexican feather grass and rosemary along the driveway. The recent additions include coleus, hostus, fern, Hawaiian ti, caladiums, vincas, and mondo grass. One plant that really loves the shade garden is the Japense aralia planted in the tall pots. Like finding Waldo, take a moment to search out the little surprises tucked throughout – look for the toads, fish, cats, and fossils among many others.
Beside its beauty, another benefit of the shade garden is that it requires much less water than the St. Augustine grass it replaced. Although the plants and flowers they selected are generally not native to Texas, they are well-adapted to our hot, dry environment. Being perennials they are cost-effective because they will come back year after year. Now the front yard matches the beauty and serenity of the backyard(where they previously concentrated their efforts). So thank you Tankeys for the inspiration and the lovely new addition to the neighborhood.