“Deep Breath”

by ESP on November 14, 2013 · 11 comments


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.


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
1 gail November 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

This is an amazing transformation! Well done.
Great mailbox idea! I’ll have one of those.
Poor Kumo. I’m sure he’ll adjust to the pipes.

2 ESP November 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Thanks Gail.
It is a great mailbox, I want one also…it would fit right in over here. I will find out (once again) who made it.
Kumo is already adjusting a little better to the volume. I think it is the shape of the pipes on my shoulder that really freaks him out. Initially I think he thought that some sort of squealing animal had attacked and attached itself to me and that I was wrestling and blowing on it in an attempt to remove it…perhaps.
Poor Kumo.

3 TexasDeb November 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Improvements everywhere you look – the owners must be incredibly pleased. I too love that mailbox – so striking! – but your landscaping is what makes it look part of a whole rather than a piece superimposed “just because”. Well played/planted, sir!

Thanks TD, appreciate your comments!


4 Bob November 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Totally bad ass my friend. I like the more natural looking gardens myself and this one is all that and more. You did a beautiful job.

Thanks Bob, and happy you like it.

5 Jens & Suzie November 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Great job on the project. Thanks for the laughs with the Nandine, I think the exorcist worked on my yard which looks awesome of course thanks to you.

Thanks Jens & Suzie…you have to laugh at Nandina (well as long as you do not have any) and very funny on the yard exorcist front, happy to have “cleansed” your horticultural demon for you! :-)

6 Katina November 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm

LOVE the re-do. Also, I can’t wait to hear some bagpipe music. :)

7 ESP November 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Ach, thanks Katina…any tune requests?

8 Holly Hargrove November 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

What a great transformation! If you are interested in the mailbox, shoot us an email at urbanmettle@gmail.com. This was a custom order and we think it turned out great! We also sell wall-mounted mailboxes, planters and address plaques.

9 ESP November 21, 2013 at 10:28 am

Thanks Holly, your mailbox fits right in!
Great work.

10 Desert Dweller / David C. December 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Great process from the design to plan to install, Mr. Patch. Also enjoyed how your seasons are so different than out here, where we’ve had 5-10 light frosts and hard freezes. Still is growing nicely.

No picks for bagpipe music, since this Mediterraneanophile doesn’t know any, but will trust your judgement!

11 ESP December 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Thanks David.
This has been the coldest Nov/Dec for a while, not that I am complaining, it makes a welcome change.

Previous post:

Next post: