DIY burnout


I haven’t posted in awhile. I was considering why not, and it occurred to me that a Do-It-Yourself-er saves money by working on projects themselves. But when all the work is done by you, projects compete with your other priorities for your time and just don’t always come in first.

For all you DIY-ers who are going strong this spring, I just added a new page on backyard landscape design ideas. It includes ideas for planning your dream backyard.

This past year I haven’t put yard improvements at the top of my list, but I still have been able to enjoy my landscape. Many of the plants I added when first moving here are reaching mature sizes. I enjoy walking around the yard and seeing the flowers and new growth during spring. This is the part of landscaping that I find rewarding: a beautiful space that complements the surrounding desert and inspires me.

So, when a landscape is in stasis, what do I do to maintain everything? So far this year we’ve harvested citrus fruit, pruned trees and bushes, sprayed pre-emergent on all rocked areas, weeded around plants, planted a small garden, and added a few new plants. Spring is a good time to check that all irrigation emitters are working properly. The seals on the irrigation valve near the house get old and leaky, requiring replacement every few years.¬†A¬†xeriscape landscape is easier to maintain than many others because many of these chores are only done once a year.

This year my garden included lettuce, sunflowers, and zucchini. The lettuce is already bolting in the heat and the zucchini will die off in another month. The birds love the sunflowers.sunflowers_arizona

I added a couple of new native plants this year that I found at the Black Mountain Nursery in Cave Creek. I found Mormon tea, goldeneye, and desert milkweed there. I have better luck finding native plants at independent nurseries than at chain stores.

In the future, I still have plans to do some big projects in the yard. I would like to build a ramada-style porch extension, add crushed granite on all walkways, install flagstone pavers on the back porch and some artificial turf immediately off of that, and finish landscaping one area with some more shrubs.

Whether you’re starting projects or enjoying what you have, hope you enjoy your landscape this spring!


Acre landscape design for front yard

Design ideas

Enjoy this free design for a large front yard

DIY Landscape design

Landscape design for large front yard

This Christmas, one of your gifts could be an update to your landscape!

I’m sharing this sketch I made for a friend with a one acre lot. Her and her husband wanted to landscape around the existing plants in the yard, and include a large circular gravel drive.

The focal point of the yard is the home’s entrance, so the plants should lead your eye toward the front door. A visitor approaches the home from the bottom left, so the drive leaves a nice opening to look through. Low bushes around the front porch area outline a space that can be personalized with favorite plants. Perhaps a woman would like some roses or the shade from the house may work well for a succulent garden.

To the left of the entry, a graveled path leads to a gate in the block wall. Next to the path is a grouping of three citrus trees. Their location by the wall allow irrigation lines from the back to send a spur through the wall to the citrus. This way the citrus can be watered on a more frequent schedule than the rest of the xeriscape. (My friends want to plant non-native pine trees in their back yard to shade the house. These would need to be watered on the same schedule with the citrus.)

The rest of the trees in the front yard are Mesquite. This provides a cohesive theme to unify the rest of the landscape. One Joshua tree provides a focal point near the driveway’s entrance, but it will be quite a few years before it is large enough for that role.

The island created by the driveway features prickly pear and barrel cacti, clusters of xeriscape bushes, and a few grasses. A dry riverbed winds through the island and reappears across the drive for interest.

Off to the right of the pictured area, a straight drive leads through a gate in the block wall to access the garage.

This landscape design could easily be adapted to a similar yard. Or you could use the principles I did to create your own.