We’ve got the inside of the little pod on the prairie mostly complete, the roof and deck on. Now we need finish the rest of the exterior: the landscape. Landscaping a little house has special requirements. First, we want it to be low maintenance. Isn’t the point of living with less being able to scale back on money and time spent maintaining your space? Next, we needed our landscape to be kind to the environment. We live surrounded by 10,000 acres of wild and wonderful Hill Country land. We didn’t want to transplant suburbia into the middle of it.
So we decided to rock the landscape. Literally. Our property is sloped and extremely rocky. So rocky, we’ve already harvested over 8 tons of rock from our own land to build columns for our bee yard fence and a retaining wall in front of the pod. Since rock is so prevalent, we feel good using it as a landscaping material. In fact, we decided a while back to use rocks for our driveway rather than pave it. First, to encourage drainage, and second because it blends so well with the natural landscape.
Landscaping a Little House
We wanted to save money, too (surprise!) so we decided to do the labor ourselves. This is probably why we still have two piles of rock sitting in front of the pod. It’s pretty labor-intensive to move 45 tons, yes TONS, of rock with only two people with one garden shovel each. On the other hand, it’s great for your abs.
The area in front of the pod was desert-like to start with, with just a few scrubby grasses growing there. We evened it out with small-pebbled rock which will give us drainage and keep plant material away from the front. We want to restrict the type of plants growing near the structure primarily to control scorpions. Because, uh, scorpions.
We didn’t want just an expanse of pebbles, so we thought carefully about what plants would suit the area. Again, landscaping a little house means not overwhelming it with too much plant material. Agaves and other water-conserving plants are a good choice, and native to the area. I bought a century plant, agave americana, that already had several pups (new little agaves) growing in its container. I got about eight individual plants from the one pot; they’re small now, but will grow to 6 feet tall and wide. I also transplanted some of the cactus, yucca, and aloe that were growing on the property. So far, they look like they’re doing well, even if you can barely see them.
Since we wanted to control some of the creepier of crawlies that co-exist with us, I chose lavender to place off to the side of the pod, where we have some good dirt. Lavender is supposed to be repellent to scorpions, so landscaping a little house in scorpion country with a bit of the sweet-smelling stuff seemed a good idea. While not native to the Hill Country, it does like our climate; hot and dry. Finally, we planted an olive tree, a plant that thrives in climates like ours, for some permaculture. It will provide shade and greenery plus edible treats on down the line.
We still have a lot of rock to move. We’ll be using it to forge a path down the hillside to our fire pit and fill in some of the surrounding area. We use the pit to burn dead trees when there’s no fire ban, so using rock in the surrounding area will add an element of safety.
I’ll keep you posted on the the finished project and the state of my abs. By the end of this project, I should be tons lighter, and I’m not just talking rock, either!
See you next week!