Recently we worked on landscaping in the back yard of a bungalow that belongs to a young couple in Woodland Heights. He is a professional baseball player and she flies out to spend time with him regularly. This means they need a very low maintenance garden. In the off-season they love to have friends over to BBQ and hang out. Also there are years when they are going to rent out their home for the season and so wanted to make sure they put in hardscape that was very durable and no care. In our original design we had a cedar pergola and fire ring. They decided to have a metal powered coated one that include lots of lighting and fans. And we decided to use a portable fire ring for more flexibility.
Before shot, nothing but lawn and a small wood deck.
Before shot view to the back fence.
The first step was to run the piping for the irrigation. Once they were in place we began excavating for the patio. For the pavers we needed to remove about 5 inches of soil! This project had many halted days due to rain. Houston soil is heavy enough without adding an inch of rainfall.
Irrigation lines down the side fence for future green wall.
Sometimes we use a canopy to help keep the hot sun off the crew.
Ready to plant future green wall.
We are very fortunate to have great flowering vines in Houston. These tangerine crossvine began blooming withing a week of being planted. By next summer many of these vines, if not all, will have grown to the top of the fence. A great spring bloomer this vine will surprise you with flowers throughout the year.
The Tangerine crossvine started blooming almost as soon as we put them in the ground.
Certain ‘features’ of a landscape can be removed while others, like the access to the sewer, is good to retain. We abutted the pavers to the clean-out and later filled the void with gravel; easy enough to remove if access is needed, while still solid enough to walk across.
Working around the clean out.
The vines are already stretching for the sky! Vines on a fence are a great way to provide greenery in narrow spaces. We will be installing another post and more welded wire and vines to hide the A/C which can be accessed from the front yard.
The patio continues on around the corner and leads to the kitchen door.
While we usually install all of the hardscape first, you can plainly see that the plantings are done even as we continue with the patio. Because the plants were not in harms way we had the flexibility of working on the pavers after/during the planting. Note that the metal tubing, for the future pergola here seen on the left of the photo, also has space around it. We want to make sure that any movement of the pergola does not create a bind on the patio.
Making round shapes using rectangular materials is a bit of a challenge. We elected to keep the ringing pavers whole (as opposed to cutting “V’s” into them) to keep the integrity of the stones in tact.
Just the final piece that must be cut to fit into the semi-circle shape.
Be sure to keep checking your grade. Proper leveling will keep the water moving where you want it and by extension create a more low-maintenance space. It is much easier to modify the grade as the patio is installed than having to change the pitch after the final stone is laid.
Continually checking the level.
The clients wanted a step that mirrored the patio’s predominant feature (plus they thought it looked cool; we agree). Again, making rectangular pavers into a round pattern is a challenge. With these steps we elected to cut the outer-most pavers to create a tighter pattern.
Steps to mimic the shape of the patio.
We kept a space between our patio and the house to allow for access to the siding for maintenance needs. We also kept a space between the steps and the house so that the micro-tubing (for potted plants) can be run behind the steps.
Mortared and sealed
Great shade from the pergola and a view of the new plantings across the back fence.
We planted Louisiana iris around the fountain with fig ivy behind to creep up the fence. The is a simple liriope border with patches of Day lilies. Midway a Sweet Olive on each side and flanking Moro Blood oranges on each corner. Nothing will need much trimming and will just get better and better as the years go on.
A lovely endless fountain as a focal point.
Lots of light and room for an evening of chillaxing!
I don’t have pictures of it furnished but there will be an outdoor sofa and large comfy chairs to accommodate the tall muscular athletes. Potted plants, side tables and perhaps an outdoor rug.
Written in collaboration with Shawn Michael.