Landscape and Construction

Noticed how we extended the steps on the front porch as well?! The retaining wall is old school dry stack. Its runs the length of the property. Will have to add more photos of that, however, the lower area is a mud pit, so I want to clean that up before taking pictures. Ice Plant was planted on either side of the stairs above the dry stack retaining wall. Ice plants are fantastic choices for xeriscape design in Dallas/Fort Worth. These will have a mass of purple flowers. So many of us only think of grasses and Texas sage, along with red tip yuccas only for xeriscapes in North Texas. Don't get me wrong, I love all of these plants, but there are allot of great plants out there to complement these plants, to give you a more appealing xeriscape.

Another shot of the contemporary home we built, with a decent shot of the landscape, that is not covered in snow, like the other picture. The picture quality is horrible, sorry, many of my photos are with my I-phone... I decided we needed to break up the appearance of the concrete retaining wall, A cut in, was the solution, along with a metal siding for good measure. I wanted to incorporate the same metal siding that was used on the house. Over time, it should begin to have a rusty hue. I am a big fan of Agaves, which several good varieties will grow well in dallas and fort worth. My all time favorite so far, is the whale's tongue agave. It has a fantastic blue coloring, and rarely produces pups, which is the agave term for having allot of children. Many agave will pup frequently and will have to be maintained to stop your yard from having many new agave babies. Luckily agave only pup at the base area of the mother plant, So they are easy to maintain. The plants is the pots that look like sticks are ocotillo cactus. These guys are tough to establish, but are well worth trying them in a arid landscape. In the growing months they will develop leaves and will have a spectacular bloom.

Just finished. It is amazing how different the grays appear on a cloudy day compared with the sunny photos above. Also, we had just sprayed down the steps, which makes everything darker, and better for photos! in time, the grasses will grow on the sides of the steps and look really good. I love dry stack, such an old world feel. I would love to do an old world dry stack and cobble stone project for a mediterranean home one day.

This contemporary pathway was constructed in the Dallas/Fort worth area. The drive way had already utilized basalt gravel, so it was natural to carry some of the previous design into other areas of the property. This particular site, was a high traffic area, that traditional sod would not grow due to heavy shade. The shot was taken before shade tolerant understory plants were placed on either side of the path to soften hardscape. We used Holly Ferns as the main understory plants, as well as a dwarf Japanese Maple. 

Now we are getting somewhere. This is the front retaining wall two days after being poured, with no floating steps or metal siding yet. I did not have much of a say in the inside at all, probably for good reason....haha, but I was able to choose the stone that was used on the outside of the house, and also which is incorporated on the inside. You can see this stone in great detail on the indoor section. The stone selected was silver mist with a dug out joint. We actually bricked this entire home! We did not sub it out to a masonry company. We build lots of retaining walls and fire places, so why not a house.

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Almost finished up at this point. You can see on the right, that there is no court yard fence yet. But this picture gives a full shot of the steps joining into the retaining wall. The green tree that is to the right of the steps, is a palo verde tree, an awesome xeriscape tree! It has yellow flowers in the summer, and green bark for winter interest. There are several varieties out there, however I believe there are only two varieties that will tolerate our winters the best. 


In the front right corner of this picture, you can see an ocotillo cactus branch when it has leaves. Trees selected were palo verde, and a multi-truck mesquite tree. Mesquite trees are cool, because they are one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring. If your mesquite leafs out, you can be assured winter has left for good. Even in Texas! Trust me, I grew up in Amarillo, talk about unexpected snow. Many times when I am designing a xeriscape in Dallas/Fort Worth, I will use mulch in many areas instead of all gravel. I want your house to stand out for the right reasons in your neighborhood. Sometimes all gravel can be overbearing and take away from the overall appeal of the landscape. A good mix of textures will keep the landscape interesting and not monotonous. 

While I go on and on about planning, I do not necessarily mean that you need to have a master plan. Many times you do not want or need every section of your home landscaped. Instead, focus on each area as an individual plan. And when budgeting, put the most amount of thought and money into the area you will want to be enjoyed the most. That being said, try to put a small portion of your budget into other areas that will need work later, so you will have something small to enjoy in these areas while you are slowly building building up for the next project.  

One of my first projects.

This contemporary patio in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, was designed to incorporate a underground gutter drainage system. The chains hanging down on the lower right of the picture, are actually being used as rain water guides for this contemporary house, instead of a traditional down spout gutter system. Under the gravel, lies a grate that catches the water and pipes it away from the area.

In this photo, concrete pads were cantilevered to give them the appearance that they are floating. This can also be achieved with natural stone. These can turn out really cool, however, you must pay extra attention to the detail of your form boards, especially during pouring.

Lots of different textures going on here. The White pots contrast nicely with the natural tones of the wood. The aggregate is an Arizona Sunburst stone and a basalt gravel. Originally I wanted only Arizona Sunburst, and not the basalt in the middle, however, I ran out of Arizona Sunburst, and it was a trek to source it out. I still had some left over basalt, so I used that for the middle. Still can't decide which option would have looked better. My brother and the home owner built the fence. I really think it did not mater what I put in front of their fence, as the fence turned out amazing. A little design planning can have a huge impact. Due to cost, we did not want to do this fence the entire length of the house, however we used it on the front and side. So when you are in the court yard, or looking out the main windows, this is fence you view.

The dwarf Japanese Maple cultivars I used were all dwarfs. These included  Mikawa yatsubusa, Sharp's Pygmy, and Shaina. When selecting a Japanese Maple for a landscape, I try not to get to caught up in individual cultivars. I look more for the general shape and size of the trees available. For example, most people tend to skip over the plain speices Acer palmatum Japanese maple. Go to the Fort Worth Japanese Garden in the fall and check out the Acer palmatum trees growing there! They are amazing.

Tropical Paradise in Dallas/Fort Worth!

This particular landscape project was designed to complement a contemporary house in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The area chosen had moderate shade, so the use of Japanese maples and dwarf mondo grass were selected to complement the shade in the area. The maples were purchased through metro maples, which, if you have not taken a trip out to see them, I highly recommend it. Metro Maples is more like a botanical garden than it is a plant nursery. It has the largest selection of maple tree varieties in the state of Texas.

And so the Rustic Modern home building process begins. I had to take this picture from my Instagram profile.

I rarely remember to ever take before and after pictures, and i should more often just to show the difference a well thought out landscape can do for a property. This is a current project I am working on in Fort Worth, I had to use google earth for the before picture..haha. I am about three days from being complete, that is why the bottom steps are covered in mud, and the left front side has no mulch. I will add larger shots then, but you can see what I have so far.

These are the steps after the forms had just come off. There are ways to really make them appear floating with a couple tricks, that we do later on down the road. Even in this state they look pretty cool.

This is a mass planting of varous sedum varieties. This particular house had a northern exposure . The clients wanted a xeriscape designed landscape. Sedums are a great choice for this since they are succulents and have low water needs. However, that being said, the Texas Sun in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex can burn up many of the Sedum varieties. I have found individual sedum varieties that tolerate our Texas Climate better than others. So try several out. Dappled shade or a northern exposure will be best for many of these, but there are some that will take sun. 

I decided to give progression shots of the landscape, so you can see how dramatically you can change the look of a landscape, or in this case, a lot. My brother will also do progression shots of this contemporary home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on the indoor section. When I teach him how to use the website...haha Here is the lot that was picked out. not much to see here clark. I think many of my clients think we only do landscaping, mainly because that is how the company was started. I only did work on outdoor spaces, however, once my brother teamed up with me, we were able to construct complete packages. My brother had built homes for ten year for a large builder before D&I Landscape and Construction.