Contemporary Modern Minimalist – Stark Beauty with Natives

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Near downtown Houston is a home we did the design and landscaping for last December. The yard around this beautiful newly constructed contemporary modern style home was a blank slate. The desire was for low maintenance landscaping that would also offer privacy and more entertaining spaces. The yard has an usual L shape and the two houses behind are right on the other side of the fence. Privacy is difficult when you have multi-story homes on smaller lots. One of the homes is older and it is hard to tell what might be built there at a later date.Before Looking from the back corner to the house you can see the beautiful clean lines of the modern style architecture. The goal was to design a landscape that complements the home and honors the modern clean lines. Before In our design process we start by having the potential clients fill out a questionnaire that we have on our website. This gives us an idea of what they are looking for before we meet them for a site visit. We then continue to talk through the needs and desires of the homeowners while standing in the space. They shared pictures with us and we talked about their preferences and personal taste. Here was the view from inside before when we started.Before looking out from inside. One of their requests was to use low maintenance native plants as much as possible. To obscure the view of the house and fence directly across from the window we used a combination of native holly trees planted in a naturalist form to make it appear they were their before the house. In our part of Texas yaupon hollies grow naturally.  These will also attracted birds into the garden. We used two Weeping Yaupon holly, two Pride of Houston yaupon holly and one Possumhaw holly. This creates a small naturalist style holly forest. Behind the Possumhaw we have three Adagio Maiden grasses that will be seen when the Possumhaw is bare in the winter.  The A/C are behind the fence in the corner so we had to leave room to get through to them. Variety of native holly trees. When these hollies fill in and grow taller they should provide a screen about 15- 25 feet high. Here is a picture I took of some Weeping Yaupon holly in our neighborhood. I have one on my side garden and have found that they are pretty slow growers (although ours shot up over a foot this past year; even before the rains). I love the look of weeping plants. Weeping Yaupon hollies We used ledge stone to create a half circle and surrounded it with Oscar’s Dwarf Yaupon holly and Gulf Muhly Grass. Inside we have a field of New Gold lantana. The idea is to put a sculpture in the middle once they find just the right one. Half circle of New Gold Lantana After prepping the site we start by building the pergola. Here it is important to measure carefully so we can fit the cement pads in and around it. Pergola in MidtownOnce it is finished they bring in the cement pads. There are 61 –  2′ x 24′ x 32′. It is lots of heavy lifting as they weigh 88 lbs. each. Here is the chaos before the calm. Cement pads waiting to be installedYou can see behind the pergola we planted a row of trees; they are Garnet Sash pomegranate trees. They will be a fun fruit bearing screen to help with privacy from the house that is right behind this part of the garden.  Clearly these are not native but they produce edible fruit and are very hardy. The area is under planted with Mondo Grass, Ophiopogon japonicus. Pergola in Midtown Houston - Ravenscourt Landscaping & Design LLCOn the right side of the pergola you will we left space for a bed. Here we attached welded wire to the fence sandwiched between cedar 2×4’s and planted Star Jasmine. When the plants are grown in there will essential be two green walls. This will make it feel less like a wooden box and help dampen the sounds of the parking area just on the other side of this fence. The patio goes up to the fence on the other side to accommodate a barbecue, bar or console.Pergola and cement pad patioHere is a close up of the area behind the patio. I like this shot because you can see how much shade the pergola provides. The trees were actually planted before the pad were placed. We don’t like to bring plants and materials across the patio so we tend to put it in last. The pink string denotes where the pads will end up.Shade from a pergolaAnother view of the pergola so you can see how well it fills in the L and makes the garden not seem so deep and oddly shaped. We stained this pergola. And we absolutely finish staining before we get the pads anywhere near the potential drip zone!Pergola and patio MidtownI wanted to add something tall to create more green to view from the second floor balcony and obscure the view of the potential future towering homes that will be built to the south. Keeping with the native theme we planted 2 Loblolly pines. We are on the edge of their native habitat. I like the way they grow and that they will not cast too much shade. I have noticed that lawn does pretty well under them. They could raked up the pine needles and composted it to use as mulch elsewhere.  Two Loblolly pinesAnother view back towards the house from under the pergola. We use drip tubing in all the beds and the only place we use spray is in the lawn area.Pergola, lawn and pine trees.The result is a very sustainable landscape with water permeable entertaining spaces and paths.

We just checked in with the home owners to see how everything is doing and they sent these pictures. The install was in December so this is six months later.Six months later.They said they are getting good at weeding….all the rain has helped the spring weeds thrive. We sent them a link to our favorite vinegar solution to help kill weeds. You can find the link on our website under aftercare.

Below we can see how green everything is and how the path invites you out to the covered patio. Six months laterI love the simple gray chairs. I noticed here the neighbors vines are creeping over onto the pergola. Six months laterThe lawn is doing well in spite of all our rain. We had wondered how Zoysia grass would handle lots of rain since it was marketed during the drought as drought tolerant. I love the string lights across the garden. I would love to see them lit up in the evening. Six months later 4The best part is the homeowners are super happy and spend time in the garden now.

Happy Gardening!

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