“Deep Breath”

by ESP on November 14, 2013


Here is a new 360 plan I generated for a property in north Austin,


and here are the renderings that I used to communicate the design intent to the client. I superimposed the new design onto the black and white images.

The homeowners wanted to significantly reduce the amount of lawn without alienating the rest of the predominately turfed neighborhood, an interesting challenge.


The back patio was an assortment of plants and different mediums that made the space feel cramped and claustrophobic. I wanted to open this space up and create an extension to the patio that would lead naturally into pathways on both sides of the property.


The property lacked any real flow from the front to the back, my goal was to introduce pathways that would encompass and direct foot traffic on all sides of the house, but first a lot of tear-out had to happen. About 5 dumpsters worth to be precise.


Lots of overgrown shrubbery had to be removed up against the house and as for the 2ft Asiatic jasmine filled ‘flan’ brick-circle around the oak?

Well, you all know my bias thoughts on this demonic ground cover.


Oh yes, there was a lot more of this going on as the underworld critters living in the jasmine darted around our ankles. The flan actually ended up more like a pizza, it was cut and removed in six horrible slices. The bricks performed their usual trick of exponential expansion after being demolished with a sledge hammer.


Here is the front yard stripped back to its bare-bones. The trunk-flare on the oak is now visible and the tree, being free from the clutches of the dark Trachelospermum, can once again breathe freely.


This had to be one of the longest hell-strips I have taken out. The turf here was mounded and the grade had to be taken down significantly for fresh aggregate to be reintroduced.


Here is the back all cleared out, and here it is,

Darkest Hour

in its darkest hour,


with a new sprinkler and drip irrigation system being installed (not by me).



The front also received a good pummeling.


Contours were defined, materials brought in, the installation was underway.

Here are some before and after shots of the completed design:


What was once an overgrown planting bed became a wide entryway into the garden from the driveway and front door.


The wrap-round strip of grass in front of the boulders naturalizes the scheme street-side into the neighborhood aesthetic.


The removal of this wall opened up the view and allowed room for this side pathway to run behind the leaning oak.


A paved side courtyard continues


around to expand the back patio. Ornamental grasses and rosemary have been planted to soften the corners and hardscaping over time.


This back area was 12ft deep in nandina – which is never a good thing. (another potential botanical rant could most certainly be inserted here).


I cast you out, invasive nandina!

An exorcism was performed along with some sage smudging and cleansing (you have to do this with nandina or it will come back) making the whole back garden feel significantly larger.


A new metal mailbox was installed which works perfectly with the color of the moss boulders and decomposed granite. Here is a link to Urban Mettle, the company that designs and makes these mailboxes…and a whole lot more:


Now to wait a couple of years until the plants fill-in.


Back in the Patch:


This is my favorite time of the year, right before the first frosts start hitting hard.


Hoja Santa is the first plant to complain when the first real freeze arrives,


but for now they are still standing tall even though it got very cold the last few nights.



Cooler temperatures trigger the desert trumpets into action,


and the Mexican bush sage keeps on going at the back,


and front of the Patch.


In preparation for Christmas…


plumosa fern is always first to break out the decorations.

DSC04008 copy

My Christmas present arrived at my door early, I had been looking forward to this moment for months…the wait was finally over.


Was I going to wait to open it?

Oh no…zip, zip…


It was a brand new set of…


David Naill highland bagpipes complete with blackwood mounts and nickel slides…snort.


My neighbors and Kumo (who, with the first squawk shot under the bed) are going to be so happy!


I will subject you to a wee tune next week if you would like.

Any requests?


Except that one.

Inspirational Images of the Week:

Cacoon Hanging Chair





Stay Tuned for:

“Up In Flames”


All material © 2013 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


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