Drive-By Gardens: Front-yard style in Tarrytown neighborhood


Cruising through tony Tarrytown neighborhood in West Austin last week, I slowed to a crawl to admire several houses with appealing front-yard style. For understated Christmas pizzazz, I like the way these homeowners hung a big, green wreath over their moss-green front door flanked by dramatic pots of — what is that? — black Colocasia? Another wreath hangs on a nearly black, horizontal-board gate on the fenced front yard, with mounding pittosporum shrubs on either side. Classic with a modern twist.


This sapphire-colored ranch gets contemporary style from Corten-edged porch stair risers and planters that stretch the width of the house, gracefully connecting home and lawn. Large white planters draw the eye to the steps, and an elevated steel dish planter by the door adds a focal point.


This stucco house with a contemporary-farmhouse vibe has a shaggy, eco-lawn of some kind — maybe Habiturf. A half-dozen steely blue agaves congregate under the live oaks in the lawn — an arrangement that wouldn’t be practical if you had to mow frequently. Happily, Habiturf requires minimal mowing. The bigger question, to my mind, is how do they keep deer from antlering these beauties to smithereens in the fall? The poor, battered agaves and hesperaloes in my own front garden would love to know.


This mushroom-colored ranch welcomes visitors with an updated front walk: a wide, zigzagging path of poured-in-place concrete. Masses of groundcovers and low-growing perennials alternate with curvy swaths of river rock (along the curb) and decomposed granite (for a cross path).

It’s always fun to see what people are doing with their yards, and these four are eye-catching in different ways. Have they given you any ideas?

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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10 Responses

  1. Evan Bean says:

    As usual, I love seeing the live oaks in everyone’s yards. I wouldn’t mind having something like the raised beds along the front of the blue house. I’m a little surprised that bucks bother your agaves and hesperaloes, but I shouldn’t be. I’ve had young trees literally rubbed in half by aggressive bucks. Why not agaves and hesperaloes, too? They don’t seem like they’d be very good for rubbing off velvet, but I suppose they’re the right height for desperate, itchy-antlered bucks.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      They have distinct preferences for certain spiky plants to rub their antlers against, with softleaf yucca, any large agave, giant hesperaloe, and even medium-sized ‘Margaritaville’ yucca all taking a hit in my front garden. The yuccas and hesperaloe have some power of recovery if you can minimize the damage through spraying, but the agave damage lasts and lasts. It really drives me bonkers to have found plants that grow well in dry semi-shade and thrive in our long, blisteringly hot summers, only to lose them to rampaging bucks each fall. —Pam

  2. rickii says:

    I’m partial to your drive-by shootings…always a few ideas there to stash away for future reference.

  3. sandi says:

    I am a new follower—new to Central TX. and I am looking for ideas for my garden for next spring—what to plant that will survive & maybe even thrive. I am thinking Provencal types might survive?
    I have enjoyed reading your blog.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Hi, Sandi, and welcome to Central Texas and to Digging! I have a lot of resources for local gardeners here on my blog. Check out the links under More Good Stuff in my header bar, especially my plant list, some of which include hyperlinks to posts about specific plants and how they’ve performed for me. Also, click on the button in my sidebar called Plant This for more plant info.

      Nurseries in Austin and Central Texas are written up on my Nurseries page, so you can go to places that sell tried-and-true plants for our area. And do check out my blogroll for other local bloggers. You can learn so much by reading about what other people in your area are growing, both the successes and the failures. Happy digging! —Pam

  4. I like that big planter bowl in front of the one house. I could do a lot with that.

  5. Well I think it’s official: I love dark siding and that black fence. Very practical for Texas summers, I know. Also, these are some of my favorite posts, just FYI! :)

    • Pam/Digging says:

      It does look really cool, but yeah, probably not the best choice for bright sun because of fading. I did have our side fence stained dark gray, almost black, and I love it. It’s in the shade and holding up so far.

      And thanks for the Drive-By encouragement! —Pam

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