Here's what my front and back yards looked like as we were pulling our homestudy materials together two and a half years ago.
Here's the backyard, from left to right. We're on a standard builder's lot, 60X120, and since the house, garage, driveway and sidewalk take up about 2/3 of that space, there isn't a lot to work with. The backyard is only 20 feet long on this side, from the concrete covered porch to the fence, and over on the right side, it is only 30 feet from the back wall of the house to the fence. The side yards, otherwise known as the "hallways" around here, are a scant 6 feet wide.
About a year ago, my sunglasses broke. I was very upset, since they were a pair of Chanels I'd had for ages, given to me by my parents. When I went out to look for new ones, I got ones that were polarized and had huge lenses that totally covered my eyes. The change was fantastic, and even though I don't really have the face shape for huge frames, I don't care. I'd thought I'd had polarized lenses with my old pair, but it turns out that they weren't real Chanels, they were cheapo fakey fakes, so I'd been suffering needlessly for, oh, five years. Thanks, Dad! Oh, well. I should have known.
The really cool thing, though, was that I was able to go outside for more than a few minutes. I spent more time in the back yard with Huckle, and decided I was really tired of looking at patchy grass and weeds. Then I got the idea to put some flowers in the front yard. Revolutionary, no? Here's what I had to work with up there -- cute house, the closest our builder offered to Texas Cottage style. White limestone masonry, a couple of columns, white and beige trim. When we were looking at houses, I wanted a 150 year old fixer-upper white limestone cottage downtown, and Hubs wanted new, warranty-holding, garage having. He won this time.
The view of our house from the street. The landscaping was "builder's special" even after a year and a half -- all we'd done was add limestone edging and put in 3 tiny sago palms, since my mother told me they would be fine if you left them alone after you planted them. The trees are live oaks.
Front porch, unused and collecting tumbleweeds. Baby sago palm, a windchime given to us by the in laws, some lorapetulum, purple verbena, and boxwood-ish shrub. By early last year, I was sick and tired of the out front look, hated the lawn and watering it in the summer, and none too pleased with the view. Add to all that the fact that our next door neighbor has The Nicest Lawn in the neighborhood, thanks to an assload of chemicals, constant watering during the summer, and at least 10 hours of maintenance each week, and we couldn't compete. I didn't want to follow his example though -- I don't like Texas lawn grasses, I don't like to waste money or water, and I wasn't about to pollute my family with traditional lawn chemicals.
I decided I wanted organic, cottage, low-ish water usage, and heat tolerant. At first, I thought I'd be satisfied with having "nice landscaping" but fairly quickly, I turned into a gardener.