Some good friends of mine live over in West Austin and asked me to help them with a garden design a while ago. They are looking for a garden that is very low maintenance and with a relatively inexpensive installation, since they are not gardeners and probably would not invest much time in trimming and weeding.
The front yard is currently quite literally a blank canvas of grass. The owners and myself would like to introduce some Texas native and adapted plants and herbs, and I'd like to use plants that are familiar in the Edward's Plateau and Austin suburbs (don't want things to be too shocking!). The goal was also to create a design that is modular - something that could be installed in phases and could then grow in phases in the future. For now, the focus is on the entry and on creating a new path to the front sidewalk that doesn't require using the driveway.
I chose to go with a couple of bold graphic designs to draw the eye away from the house a bit. The plants pictured aren't necessarily the ones that I would install, but pretty close. I'd look at plants like Lindheimer's muhly, silver ponyfoot, Texas persimmon, lantana and contained equisetum. But I may also throw in a few herbs and non-natives, like lavender or rosemary.
Here's design Concept A:
And this is a design Concept B, with a concept for "lizard condos," which are basically decorative gabeons filled with native stone that could serve as habitat:
I'm personally attracted to the Concept B because I think the gabeons would be pretty cool. And they could be a design and ecological element that could be replicated and repeated should the garden ever grow larger to fill more of the front lawn space.
I've used a small tree, Texas persimmon, in both designs, but I think that a large shade tree would be really good for this spot too. It would help eventually cover that big sloping roof in the years down the road, which would be good visually and for conserving energy.
The edges, which could be made from cheap and ecologically-relevant limestone, would make lawn maintenance easy in either design, and the chosen plants will do well in the full sun there. This garden has not yet been implemented, but it was fun to play around with design and doing so on a computer (I'd only hand drawn things before). So a big thanks to my friends for letting me ponder the possibilities!