Gravel instead? Think of growing a yard this way: mostly gravel (and no sprinklers) but instead wide-spreading plants that can have water efficient water-dripper systems installed.
I'm going to pin this and put it on my "honey do" list. A pergola offers sun protection without blocking breezes, while its open sides frame the view and establish a sense of enclosure. This pergola was custom-made, but DIYers can build one from a kit.