Written by: Emma Bishop
The temperatures are finally cooling down enough for us to get outside and enjoy our patios and decks. The autumn weather is also perfect for sprucing up the landscape. Now’s the time to install that firepit or outdoor kitchen you’ve always wanted.
Fall is also the ideal time to plant trees in Texas. New trees do well when the soil temperature is above 40 degrees, which is year-round in much of the state. The root systems of balled and burlapped trees can recover from transplanting in the fall. They also have time to develop roots before beginning growth in the spring.
But there are some things you should consider before heading to the nursery. The most important consideration is where you intend to plant your tree. On a residential lot, trees should be planted at least 10 feet from any foundation to allow the trunks and root systems to grow. Be aware of any overhead obstructions, such as utility lines and the boughs of other trees.
Next, consider what kind of tree you want — shade, fruit-bearing, or ornamental.
For shade trees, the live oak is bough and branches above all others. It is the most commonly planted tree in Texas because it grows well virtually anywhere in the state. But live oaks need a lot of space. They can grow up to 40 feet tall and spread their branches 75 feet.
Other Native Shade Trees
- Cedar elm. This is a very hardy tree that tolerates drought well and thrives in nearly any soil.
- Texas ash. Because this is a rather small tree, it’s ideal for small properties or side yards. It delivers brilliant colors in autumn.
- Black cherry. This native is a medium-sized tree, which makes it a good candidate for suburban yards. It produces fragrant white blossoms.
Fruit Bearing Trees
- Pecan. This is the official state tree because it thrives in most areas, produces abundant shade, and drops tasty, nutritious nuts in the fall.
- Persimmon. These are native across Texas, but many homeowners choose the Japanese varieties from nurseries. The tree is insect and disease resistant.
- Peaches, nectarines, and plums. These so-called “stone” trees can produce abundant fruit when properly cared for. The chief enemy of a good crop is a late freeze.
Ornamentals for Texas
- Crepe Myrtle. These tough, durable ornamentals can be kept at shrub-size or grown to 20 feet tall. Their blooms come in a variety of colors and often blossom twice a year.
- Redbud. You can find a variety that will thrive in any part of Texas. These trees are early bloomers in spring and do so in brilliant bursts of red.
- Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum. This native does well in most parts of Texas and only grows to about 18 feet, making it ideal for home landscaping. It delivers large clusters of blossoms in spring.
Know your needs before you buy. Is the area where you intend to plant shady or sunny? What kind of soil do you have? Any well-established, reputable nursery will have people who can help you make the right choice of tree. And nearly every Texas county has an Extension Service office.
When You’re Ready to Plant
- Handle your tree only by the root ball, never the trunk.
- Dig a hole that gives the root ball 6 inches of clearance on all sides and is only as deep as the root ball.
- Backfill the hole with the same soil you took out — never substitute soil.
- Water thoroughly.
- Do not use fertilizer until early spring or you risk burning the tree.
- Mulch around the base to preserve moisture.
- Water thoroughly every seven to 10 days. Overwatering can damage your tree.
You should also be aware of what trees to avoid. The black walnut tree secretes a toxin that will kill nearby plants and flowers. It’s also incredibly messy. Other messy trees that will drop leaves and junk all over your hardscapes? Cottonwoods and mimosas. Both of these are also brittle with weak root systems.
The right trees are a long-term investment that can enhance the beauty and value of your home. Care for them wisely, and they will return your investment many times over.
Need some help with your landscape design? Here at AquaTerra we strive to be a single source solution for our client’s outdoor needs. Contact us, we’re here to help you have the most beautiful landscape on the block.
Emma Bishop is a lifestyle and design writer, and mother of two beautiful girls. She is a social butterfly and loves to entertain guests at home with beautifully decorated spaces for any occasion.
AquaTerra is committed to furthering the education of our employees and investing in the next generation of Landscape Architects. Recently, Kylee Sims, Designer and Assistant Project Manager, took the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (better known as the L.A.R.E.) and wanted to share what she learned about the test taking process. We are so proud of Kylee and her dedication to continuing education! Here are her top tips and tricks.
So, you’ve decided to take the L.A.R.E. Congratulations! Get ready for a hectic few weeks. What started as an overwhelming process turned into something I am so proud of myself for accomplishing. To save you some of the trouble I went through, I wanted to share a streamlined overview of what it looks like to take the test, and how to manage your life during the studying process.
Getting your Ducks in a Row:
Before signing up for the exam, there are a few steps you need to double check:
- Did you graduate from an Accredited Landscape Architecture Program?
- have you worked under a Registered Landscape Architect for 2 years?
If so, you’re eligible! Now, you must register with CLARB, Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. You’ll need:
- A proof of employment
- An official college transcript
- Two forms of ID
- Next, register with the TBAE (The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners)
Once you’ve completed the registration process you are ready to sign up for the exam at a testing center. There are 4 sections, which you can take in any order, and once you’ve started the first test you have 5 years to pass all 4. The exam is offered 3 times a year over a two-week period.
You know it so well you could teach it:
- ASLA and CLARB websites both have a suggested reading list of books for each section of the exam and subjects that will likely appear on the exam. The list of subjects is crucial to review so you don’t waste brainpower reading each book cover to cover.
- Take as many practice tests as you can! The first one should be before you crack open any study material to gage where to focus your studies. There are paper tests as well as online tests, please keep in mind where you are getting your study material, make sure it is a reputable source!
- Sign up for the test as soon as the dates are released (spots fill up fast) and start studying early! Do not just start studying without signing up for a test. Having an end date in mind helps create an organized study schedule.
- Most importantly do not let studying take over your life. Keeping a balanced life is equally as important as studying. If you find yourself becoming reclusive from normal life or anxious anytime you aren’t studying, it’s a sign that you need to take a break. Find what will fuel your spirit; spend time outside, go to the gym, practice your favorite hobbies and include your friends and family in this season to help keep you accountable. Your brain will thank you for taking much-needed short breaks!
It’s Go Time:
- Staying calm the night before and day of the test is always easier said than done. If you have studied hard and feel confident, don’t let any form of test anxiety get in the way. Get a good night sleep, have a good breakfast, and sit in the confidence of your hard work over the last few weeks / months.
- Do not second guess yourself! This test is meant to be hard, go with your gut choice.
- When you signed up for the exam a few months back make sure you consider the time and day of the week. If you’re not a morning person then a 7:30 slot on a Monday morning might not be the best idea.
- Once you’ve finished the exam and you walk out of the testing center, rejoice! You’ll feel 50 lbs lighter and you can celebrate the discipline and dedication over the last few weeks. Take some time for yourself, because you have earned it! Go see that movie or get that drink – it’s time to relax.
- In 4-6 weeks, you will have your results back and can move on to the next, and if not you now have a better idea of what to study for the retake!
We are often asked how to keep insects away, kill weeds and keep your grass overall disease free. We always recommend removing the thatch by lowering mow heights. Aerate twice a year; this practice will remove thatch from soil, reduce compaction and allow grass to expand and grow. Top dress half an inch to two inches with a well-aged, non-stinky organic compost. This fertilizes the soil, increases water retention and helps grass fill in faster.
Bonus: Stay away from using colored mulches in your flower beds. The chemicals from coloring leak into the soil and reduce microbial activity that’s beneficial to our soils.
Trimming the Trees:
- Oak trees are currently in their wilting season, so avoid pruning from February 1 to July 1. https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/OakWiltFAQS/
- Avoid mulching on top of the root collard
- If you haven’t fertilized tree for two seasons we recommend deep root fertilization and compost around your tree.
- When pruning trees, remember to open canopy for lighting filtration for lower plantings and air movement to avoid disease. And, of course, remove dead and crossing branches.
Feeling overwhelmed? Our crew is here to help! Call us at 214-387-8333 to liven up your landscaping.
Wanting to freshen up your garden without spending thousands of dollars? Here are three ways to liven up your curb appeal without breaking the budget:
- Install Native plants, prairies and perennial gardens: Native plants are low maintenance plants, requiring little upkeep and minimal water. They are also less prone to disease and reduce CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration.
- Smart Irrigation: Installing a smart irrigation system lowers the risk of overwatering. These systems use real-time weather data to generate an optimized watering plan for your home. Many of these systems also create a program specific to locations and vegetation of each watering zone.
- Variation is Key: Pottery prevents boredom by allowing you to seasonally change plants and flowers. Pots require less water output because the areas to water are controlled. A mixture of greenery and seasonal florals creates depth and visual interest, adding an instant pop to your outdoor space.
We’ve felt our first hints of winter and we’re likely in for a cold season. When preserving your landscapes, there’s a hefty list of chores for homeowners in preparation for cold weather. We’ve sat down with our TerraCare team to identify the most helpful tips for a well prepared winter so you can get the most out of the upcoming spring growth.
- Sensor check- Make sure your rain/freeze sensors are working correctly and update controller if is outdated. There are many smart controllers now days that can help save water.
- Gutter cleanup- You’ll want to clean your gutters once your leaves have dropped to protect your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape from leaks and damage.
- Pre-freeze water cycle- Just before a hard freeze, run a watering cycle – this practice helps shield your roots from freezing temperatures, as the top half inch or so freezes and insulates the rest of the soil beneath.
- Arbor care- this is the time to prune trees to prevent winter/storm damage.
- Plan for the seasons ahead with dormant oil – As trees and shrubs go dormant, an application of dormant oil helps kill any insect eggs that could potentially be a pest for next year.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch- After the leaves have fallen from the trees, this is a great time to install new mulch. Mulching will protect root systems from freezing and add organic matter to the soil. We recommend native mulch and avoiding colored mulches. The colorant from mulches can bleed into the soil and harm beneficial organisms that help feed your plants.
- Take note, learn, and plan ahead- While your mind is still fresh, take note of what you liked about your landscapes outdoor environments from spring and summer. Think of areas to enhance next year… you may want redo sections of the garden, elevate your space with new furniture, change or add specific features for entertaining friends and family… Whether its landscaping and maintenance, designing your next outdoor project, or outdoor styling- we’ve got the best team team for the job.
Minimalist landscapes are one of the top design trends in landscape design, and it’s easy to see why. Contemporary landscapes tend to require less maintenance. You can create a space that’s both inviting and artful. We’re all about building modern outdoor scapes that connect with the existing surrounding environments, bringing warmth and life into the space. We sat down with one of our lead designers, Ross Burke, to learn some simple ways you can incorporate elements of modern, minimalist design into your existing landscapes. We’re sharing a few of our favorite past projects where we’ve incorporated minimalist design elements for inspiration as well!
6 Tips for creating a minimalist landscape
- Simplify your plant pallet by using mass plantings of the same species- this creates large swaths of color and texture that can interplay with each other, or surrounding walls and structures
- Utilize vertical plants in linear fashion to define space and screen walls or buildings
- Define space with linear decking pattern
- Soften decking pattern and introduce more natural elements by using grass or river rock
- Contemporary projects tend to be static with little movement – soft grasses create movement with wind
- Limit height and mass of plantings along house foundation to give the structure prominence if desired
Have fun with your landscapes… When it comes to minimalism, remember- less is more. We’re always here to help you achieve your outdoor living and landscape goals. Give us a call! We’d love to chat about how we can turn your outdoor environment into an award-winning space for you and your family to enjoy year-round.
Santa Barbara style meets modern Mediterranean
Experiential design full of unique, intimate spaces
A lasting relationship with AquaCare and TerraCare
- Master plan design + build by AquaTerra Outdoors
- Landscaping and Pool managed by AquaTerra Outdoors
- Home built by Ron Davis Custom Homes
- Infinity edge spa glass tile- Oceanside Tile
- Custom stainless steel scupper- Bobe Water + Fire
- Pool plaster- Wet Edge Technologies
As we get close to the upcoming AIA Dallas Tour of Homes this fall, we can’t help but reminisce about some of our former AIA Home Tour featured projects. This week we’re taking it back to 2016, with this East Dallas minimalism gem. If you haven’t purchased your tickets for this year’s 2018 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes, head over to their site and snag them while you can!
“Casa Linder” Residence (You can see & read more about it on Arch Daily, here)
- dimensions of the wall: 23’-6” long, 2’-0” thick, 8’-0” tall
- dimensions of the pool: 30’x10’
- square footage of the pool area of the yard, not the grassy area: 1120 S.F.
- specific names to trees and plants used: Trees – Savannah Holly (pool area trees), Mexican Feather Grass (pool area grass), Gulf Muhly Grass (front of wall)
- list of materials used throughout the rest of the space, whether the name of the material or a specific brand: Pool tile 6×12 Invoke Mystic Way Stone Ventures, Pool Coping: Pre-cast Concrete, natural color, pool decking: smooth trowel concrete with a light acid wash, pool plaster: Durazzo French Grey, small gravel: native Texas River Rock, Gabion Wall Material – crushed Limestone
See you on the AIA Dallas Tour of Homes this October!
Summertime in Texas…. School’s out, sun’s out, and grilling season is in full swing. We love everything about summer… except for those pesky mosquitoes. DFW has reported their first case of West Nile for the season, but rather than miss out on bringing the party outdoors, we’re here to help you win the fight against mosquitoes this season with a variety of deterrent solutions to keep your backyard free and clear.
Your first line of defense
When dealing with mosquitoes, it’s important to start at the source- eliminate any hidden breeding areas in your yard. One often overlooked area that can lead to major issues is your rain gutters. Keeping your gutters clean of debris prevents stagnant water from collecting. Be on the lookout for other hidden stagnant water sources… check outdoor toys, plant saucers, decor, etc. to ensure they are free of standing water. Mosquitoes don’t travel far, so if you’re feeling bombarded chances are they’re making a home in or near your yard.
Installing a mosquito system offers a maintenance-free solution to eliminate the flying enemy. Insecticide solution can be dispersed throughout your landscapes through your existing sprinkler systems, or through an independent misting system. There are many companies throughout the DFW metroplex who install and manage mosquito systems, with some offering environmentally-friendly solutions in lieu of insecticides.
Garden solutions for mosquitoes
Many plant varietals may act as deterrents in your garden, but horticulturists suggest it’s the essential oils of these plants that are most effective, not the plant itself. Still, growing a “mosquito garden” will give you full access to your very own DIY bug repellent with beautiful, fragrant plants.
Grow them, and next time you’re headed outdoors, clip a few leaves, rub the leaves to release the oils, and apply away! For a larger scale solution, throwing some fresh clippings on the grill will release oil and aroma into the air… perfect for those backyard get-togethers!
Here’s a list of our favorite mosquito-repelling plants:
The best part about a mosquito garden is you’ll have plenty leftover for home grown cooking. Happy summer, folks!
Beat the Texas heat with our favorite outdoor shade solutions!
At AquaTerra, we’re always looking for ways to maximize beauty, utility, and comfort when designing your outdoor environments. Here in Texas, the summer sun is unforgiving, often lasting well beyond the season. Without adequate protection, what would be an otherwise perfect outdoor memory becomes downright miserable! Don’t let the sun’s harsh rays get in the way of any outdoor fun. Choose one of these outdoor shade solutions to create an inviting, pleasant outdoor space.
Consider the position of the late afternoon/evening sun:
Whether you’re dining al fresco with the family or entertaining a large crowd, the late-afternoon and evening hours are prime times to enjoy the outdoors. Heat from the sun can remain extremely intense well into the early evening. To make matters worse, the low angle of the setting sun can leave your patio roof or trellis completely useless. When choosing the location and layout of your outdoor space, be mindful of the sun’s angle and position throughout the day. If you’re short on space planning options, bring in shade-producing solutions instead. Roll down shades are a great option to ensure protection from the sun at any hour.
Mix up your materials:
Wood arbors are beautiful outdoor shade solutions but can limit design options and tend to weather quickly. You can dramatically increase your shaded area by mixing metal with wood. This industrial look allows you to take advantage of larger spans and cantilevers only possible with steel beams. For a light and airy feel opt for a durable, solid metal shade structure.
Purchase a custom umbrella:
We’ve all had bad experiences with the “big box” store umbrella. They blow over in a light breeze. The fabric tears easily and parts rust out quickly. After one season of use, most of those umbrellas end up in the trash. Consider investing in a custom-made umbrella with high-end metals and fabrics tailored to fit your space perfectly. These umbrellas can be designed to span 12-15′ in diameter and can be adjusted easily to accommodate the sun’s changing position. The cost for this type of product ranges from $3k-$10k, but given their durability and design flexibility, a custom umbrella may be the perfect outdoor shade solution.
Trees, trees, trees:
Stumped with how to shade your space without adding more metal, wood and plastic to your view? Consider planting a mature canopy tree in a strategic location. Trees are nature’s solution for shade and offer many benefits. They soften any outdoor space with natural elements, as opposed to man-made materials. Trees also provide a natural habitat for wildlife in your nature scape while increasing the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. As if creating a beautiful source of shade and clean air weren’t enough, trees also cool the air by a process known as “’transpiration cooling”. Tree leaves release water into the atmosphere, cooling the surrounding air as the water transforms from liquid into a vapor. Pretty neat, right?!
Often times, many designers struggle working together, but for Randy Angell of Randy Angell Designs and Tal Thevenot, CEO and designer here at AquaTerra, it couldn’t be a better working relationship. The Dallas-based outdoor design executives have more than made a name for themselves working solo in the industry. Thriving on high expectations and innovative design, Randy and Tal challenge each other in a fun, healthy way. As you can see, together they continue to make waves and the final results are nothing short of breathtaking!
The Vision Behind the Design
Tal managed AquaTerra’s flawless buildout of Randy’s innovative design for this McKinney estate. Working side by side, the vision was to create a family paradise with minimal boundaries from the indoors out! The modern outdoor design includes a large pool with a lap lane, spa and water features, an outdoor living room with fireplace and tv, and an outdoor kitchen and bar with surrounding seating terraces. When designing the space, RAD was strategic in showcasing the home’s spanning greenbelt views. The stunning 6ft tall rain curtain further marries the two spaces by anchoring the surrounding structure and framing the landscape.
What’s Next for the Outdoor Design Team
Attention to design and quality is what earned this project the cover of Pool and Spa News, and is a promise delivered upon with every project we embark on. Congratulations on a well-deserved cover feature, Randy and Tal! We’re counting down the days to share the outdoor design duo’s latest project currently underway in the North Dallas suburb, Lakes on Legacy. Follow us on Instagram to catch a glimpse of this upcoming modern beauty’s progress and final reveal! Read the full PSN story, here.
Karen & Dan Doore had a great challenge for AquaTerra: they wanted to create a fun and functional backyard space for their children and grandchildren to use, despite some significant structural and configural limitations.
Structure and Permitting Challenges
The main hurdle we faced was the 20’ gabion embankment that abuts the Doore’s yard. The embankment was created to prevent erosion into adjacent Cottonwood Creek and presented a plethora of permitting issues with regard to installing a new pool and decking. After months of work and numerous meetings with the City of Richardson, we were finally able to achieve a great design that was acceptable to the permitting department and delightful to our clients. AquaTerra overcame the challenge by designing the pool to sit just outside the drainage easement and building the patio decking on a floating concrete base rather than drilled piers so as to not disturb the gabion structure below.
Pool & Outdoor Features
The configuration of the space also presented some interesting design challenges, which inspired our team creatively. Creating continuity and maximizing functionality in this unusually shaped space was achieved by creating two separate play spaces, one in the north yard and one in the south yards, with the pool and decking situated in between.
- We chose a simple, black metal fencing for the front of the house to help connect the front and back yard and create a sense of depth. In order to create a private space for the pool, spa and deck area, AquaTerra installed horizontal wood fencing in the south yard.
- The pool was designed to feature a play pool with a shallow deck for the grandkids and sunbathing. A spa was also installed with a raised infinity edge for a chic profile.
- A steel planter was custom-made to cover the otherwise exposed home foundation, which was filled with trailing rosemary to provide a dramatic contrast in color and texture.
- The north yard has a potting shed with a seating area to suit our clients lifestyle. The pottery and paint colors used for the area were selected by our clients.
- The pool’s location and raised spa was situated so as to also create a dramatic focal point from the family room.
From the beginning, our client Karen had a vision for her backyard space. She used the term “modern prairie” to convey an overall aesthetic and guiding principle for our design team.
- IPE decking was selected with this aesthetic in mind. The decking was left un-oiled intentionally, as it will naturally develop a soft, natural grey patina over time.
- The natural stone color and texture for the raised wall were selected to compliment the decking and to blend with the cedar fence beyond.
- To enhance the prairie feel, scuppers were designed to give an illusion that the water is flowing through the wall from the Cottonwood Creek beyond.
- Blue iridescent glass tile was selected to create a visual pop against the stone wall and tie in with the pool color.
Challenges such as these present a wonderful opportunity for creative solutions that both satisfy and fosters the artistic and logistical growth that we strive for at AquaTerra. We are proud of our work at the Doore home and are happy to have fulfilled our client’s expectations.
Why should you select a Design + Build + Management firm?
With nearly 20 years of experience in Design + Build + Management, AquaTerra passionately believes that a team who covers all three bases is the best and most effective choice for any project. Here are our top 6 reasons why selecting a one-stop shop is a great way to go.
- TEAMWORK: When all aspects of a project are managed by AquaTerra, everyone has the same goal. Our entire team is fully informed on what success looks like in terms of meeting and exceeding client expectations. The reality of a large scale project is that a hiccup or two is likely to occur. However, when everyone is on the same page, solution’s occur in real time and results happen faster.
- ACCOUNTABILITY: AquaTerra is accountable for EVERYTHING from soup to nuts. When the same team designs and builds the project, there is no question of who is accountable for design, details, schedule, quality and process. Furthermore, the customer has a single point of contact, which critical if delivering excellence is a priority. And it’s always our priority.
- DEDICATION: Your outcomes are our best endorsements! We take a great deal of pride in what we do and are devoted to enduring quality. We believe in Design + Build + Maintenance and we are dedicated to the longevity and beauty in each and every project. The management & maintenance aspect of our delivery system allows us to catch the smallest of mistakes and we are also able to ensure excellence by keeping any fine details from falling through the cracks.
- EXPERTISE: Having a team of first rate experts in their field is our greatest asset. They are the heart and soul of the company and champions of excellence. At AquaTerra, we can offer our clients best-in-class experts in design, build and management, which is a fairly unique offering and a central factor for timeless outdoor spaces.
- COLLABORATION: By working with a one-stop-shop, the design-build process is far more efficient and dramatically accelerates the process. For example, our clients avoid having the typical repetitive meetings that are required by the architect, general contractor and design consultants. Collaboration results in less time wasted and lower fees for our clients. Additionally and importantly, a design-build client retains more creative control of their project.
- SAVINGS: Based on our experience and analysis, we believe a unified design-build process can save you more than 10% in overall expenses. Reason being, a firm like AquaTerra pass along our efficiencies of scale and teamwork along to our customers. By sharing operating costs among the 3 branches of the firm, we can lower cost, mitigate general conditions, and lower design fees and construction costs.
Given the benefits of working with a Design + Build + Management firm, why would anyone approach an important project in a piecemeal approach?
Celebratory Ground-Breaking Ceremony for New AquaTerra HQ!
Last month, AquaTerra christened the location of our new office headquarters with a wonderful groundbreaking ceremony. The new location will house the entire team in one facility and that is certainly cause for celebration! As we have grown over the years, lack of space required our construction team to be located remotely. The new location will allow for the design, management team, construction teams and service teams to be housed in one building.
We believe it’s going to be a special space and are overcome with excitement over having both the opportunity to collaborate under one roof, as well as the space to grow our team.
We believe in collaboration and continuous improvement as guiding principles of excellence. We will have a large training room so we can continue our focus on creating some the of best installation teams in the business. To share our love for the outdoors, we will have a small boutique showroom and a beautiful exterior courtyard. We have always had great passion for protecting the environment. Our new building will utilize renewable energy in the form of solar panels, wind turbine and water harvesting.
We started the morning over coffee and refreshments as we welcomed our team, close friends, pastor and architect/engineers. After a few words by Tal and a prayer by Hope Fellowship pastor, John McKinzie, we officially commenced the occasion as the shovels got dirty. Huge thanks to our great building team – Hodges Architecture, Clay Moore Engineering, and Novel Builders for helping make this dream a reality.
Construction should take about 16 months. The building is scheduled to be complete around June and we plan to move in during August. Thank you to all who have supported us throughout the years. We love creating special outdoor spaces for families to live, laugh and play outdoors. As construction continues, we will share more sneak peeks of the space, so stay tuned!
Create unique and timeless outdoor environments.
Lead the outdoor industry in design, construction, and management.
Provide extraordinary service and create lifelong relationships.
Cultivate people of passion with integrity.
Grow profitably and give generously.
Whether you live in the city or out in the suburbs with a little more outdoor space, there are so many fun ways to create a personal garden to suit any setting! Using Metal Garden Beds, AquaTerra can help clients create a cool, artistic approach to their own garden – and it’s easier to set up than you may think.
Easy steps to setting up your own garden:
- Select a Location: A sunny spot in your yard will almost always work best. Try to pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of full sun a day.
- Bed Set up: We set up our metal garden beds by clearing the ground first. You’ll want to remove any existing ground vegetation and break up the ground/soil for better drainage. After putting your garden beds in place, fill the beds with dirt about a 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up, then top off with a mixture of organic potting soil and compost. Mix well for best results.
- Plan and plant: The last step is the most fun – planting! First, find out which plants grow best in your area during the season in which you would like to plant. Local nurseries will have some seedlings already started that you can plant right in the ground. Of course, you will have more options if you are willing to grow from seed and Seed Savers Exchange is a great online resource! Just follow the instructions on how deep to plant the seeds, the optimal timing for planting and water as directed and watch your plants flourish.
AquaTerra is honored to be have another one of our projects featured in the AIA Dallas Tour of Homes this year!
Our team worked closely with Robert Bellamy to create a landscape design that complemented this M-Gray Architecture home design. The front yard of this Dallas home features a unique vertical steel pipe fence that sets the tone of the aesthetic. The home is accented beautifully with floor to ceiling windows throughout, but the focal point of the home is certainly the slightly elevated box-like feature that is accentuated with a contrasting color and hovers subtly over the landscape. As you approach, the windows allow you to see directly through to the backyard, framing a tree. The dry creek bed carries your eye to the far portion of the landscape, which is kept earthy in order to complement the natural materials in the architecture. You can’t help but feel one with nature in this serene setting.
Make sure you Save the Date for October 28-29th. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, visit AIA Dallas. We hope to see you there!
Nothing completes and personalizes the look of an outdoor space quite like the perfect compliment of furniture. The right decor creates warmth, ambiance and transforms an outdoor space into an outdoor living area. AquaTerra is as invested in your enjoyment of your space, as we are in creating it! To that end, AquaTerra has built relationships with several top-of-the-line outdoor furniture companies, offering a broad range of styles to meet every taste and price point.
Since its founding in 1945, Brown Jordan has offered best-in-class furniture for refined, relaxed and luxurious outdoor living. The company is known for creating iconic looks and has produced hundreds of award winning collections over the last 70 years. The possibilities are endless with Brown Jordan, as they produce everything from lounge chairs, to bar stools and massive dining room tables. Fabrics and finishes can also be customized to fit your outdoor living needs.
Known for its exceptional quality and commitment to excellence, Gloster specializes in creating timeless teak hardwood furniture in an array of styles. Gloster truly has something for everyone, from modern looks featuring metal and sleek clean lines, to traditional and elegant designs utilizing hardwoods from around the world.
Loll Designs creates durable, all-weather, outdoor furniture and accessories made with recycled plastic – mostly from single use milk jugs. Using thoughtful, original designs and unique materials, Loll creates innovative, fun and high-quality products. This company prides itself on their craftsmanship, unique designs and commitment to the environment.
All of these companies offer great furniture lines, unique in their own way. And these are just a few of the many options out there! AquaTerra can help you to design and furnish the space of your dreams. Contact us for a free consultation today.
Eco-Friendly design trends in the south
Sustainable design trends are working their way down South. At AquaTerra, we are all about responsible design, so we can’t help but get excited when we have a client who wants to implement a sustainable solution. Below is a short clip showcasing a chic steel water feature that we created in North Texas, which uses pond plants to naturally and beautifully purify the water.
Pond plants naturally remove decaying debris, minerals from stone, etc and leave the water clean and clear. Floating plants, such as the waterlilies we used, provide a lush and serene aesthetic, while also cleaning the water as effectively as many man-made filters.
As you will see in the following clip, water overflows into a biologically sustainable filtration system for a modern, farmhouse look. Green, clean and modern – who could ask for more!
Everything really IS bigger in Texas, including its biological diversity! Because of its size and geography, Texas has it all – forests, deserts, mountains, hills, prairies and coastal plains. All told, there are over 5000 species of native plants.
There are 5 major benefits to using Texas natives in your upcoming landscape renovation:
- Native plants are drought tolerant. In the extreme summer heat, this is beneficial from a water conservation standpoint.
- Native plants provide habitat and food for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife.
- Native plants are low maintenance overall because they are adapted to the Texas soils and climate. Therefore, they don’t require extra fertilization or care.
- Natives are not only beautiful, but they help maintain biological diversity.
- Native plants are unique to their own region, and they help enhance the natural beauty of Texas.
With so many beautiful options and obvious benefits, the choice is clear. Honoring local horticulture in our designs is not only the practical choice, it is aesthetically pleasing as well. There’s more to Texas than just tumbleweeds, so get out there and plant a native y’all!
From Mediterranean to Santa Barbara
This Starwood home, located in Frisco, TX, was originally designed in the Mediterranean-Tuscan style, typical of the late 90’s and early 2k period. Over the past few years, the home’s interior had been fully renovated to reflect a more clean-transitional look. Aquaterra’s goal for this landscape, pool and outdoor living renovation project was to harmonize the exterior with the interior by creating that same timeless feel. Defining new gathering spots, enhancing flow and maximizing space, with a balance of form and function, was our top priority.
After meeting with the client to get a sense of their needs, as well as review our process, program and scope, we sent them a proposal for creative services. After presenting our vision of transforming their former look into a clean, fresh “Santa Barbara” style, the clients gave us permission to proceed with a new pool and outdoor kitchen design, as well as a new fire pit, additional landscaping and enhanced lighting. Additionally, Aquaterra updated the outdoor appliances, fans, security light fixtures and re-routed some ugly electrical lines.
In order to give the entire residence a beachy, California feel, we recommended painting the home white. To complete the look, Aquaterra was entrusted to have custom light fixtures made, as well as design and provide all the pottery and outdoor furniture required to put the finishing touches on this beautiful project!
As we near final stages of this project, you can see the dramatic change to the exterior of this home. The before, during, and after photos show just how much work goes into a project like this, and the transformation is incredible!
Special thanks to some of our suppliers we worked with:
Lynx appliances, Haiku Fans, Pentair pool equipment, Bobe water and fire features, Solara lanterns, Gloster furniture, Finest Finishes plaster
Everything comes in and out of trend; landscape design is no exception to this! Sustainability and low maintenance design have been the trendiest pursuits for most businesses as of 2015. Sustainability is currently a hot topic in our industry and in everyday life, with ideas ranging from ways to catch solar energy, harvesting rain water, or growing your own food. Many people hear sustainability and low maintenance and automatically assume the project potentially lacks character, however that is not the case. There are many ways to become more sustainable, here are three steps you can take on your path to becoming more sustainable.
Using permeable surfaces such as grasscrete or pavers that allows water to penetrate through to the ground, unlike concrete, this helps reduce sprinkler water consumption. This also limits the amount of storm water runoff, which then reduces the amount of pollution that goes into the lakes and streams. Using pavers with a grass or rock edging softens the look of your outdoor space while giving it some character as well.
Sustainability can also be achieved with the smart use of water. During a typical Texas summer There may be extended periods of time with little or no rainfall. During these dry periods it’s critical to have a sprinkler system that is operating as efficiently as possible to ensure plant health and to conserve water. New technology such as ET Based controllers and MP Rotator sprinkler heads can be helpful in achieving smart water use.
ET Based Controllers use an internet connection to communicate with online weather data and other site specific information such as soil type and plant type to generate a custom watering schedule.
MP Rotating sprinkler heads reduces the amount of water loss due to evaporation by eliminating mist. The head creates larger droplets of water than traditional spray heads and thus reduces water consumption. Upgrading your old sprinkler system with this new technology will help you preserve water and keep your landscape looking beautiful year round.
Native and Drought Tolerant Plants
Many plants cannot handle the intense Texas sun during the hot summer months. Using plants native to the area puts less stress on them, and on your wallet because you won’t have to replace them every year. With planting native plants comes less maintenance. These plants do not necessarily need to be trimmed into a specific shape unless you prefer them to be. However in some cases an all native plant palette may not be suitable for your homes architectural style, but you can always integrate a few into the design here and there!
Native to the Mediterranean region, Rosemary is a drought-tolerant evergreen shrub and will grow as long as it is in full sun. Rosemary is an attractive form, coming in upright, spreading, and prostrate, with interesting texture that makes a nice backdrop to lower perennials and annuals. The aromatic leaves are a highly sought-after feature of this plant, and, of course, these leaves can be used in cooking. While Rosemary doesn’t live as long as many Texas shrubs, you can expect several years out of it.
Rosemary shrubs range from 2 to 6 feet tall by 3 to 6 feet wide, depending on the variety. We recommend spacing rosemary 2 to 4 feet on center apart from each other. While the silvery-green leaves offer year-round color, Rosemary flowers in late winter through April or May with small blue flowers.
Rosemary has two weaknesses. First, it is somewhat tender, suffering damage when temperatures dip below the teens. Second, rosemary is susceptible to root rot, typically from poor drainage and over-watering. To care for your rosemary, once it is established, an occasional deep watering is all it needs to survive. You can prune rosemary lightly to shape as desired and feed your rosemary little, if at all.
One great advantage to rosemary is that the aromatic oils this plant produces become a natural insect repellant and critters such as deer and rabbits don’t like the taste, so your rosemary will be left for you to enjoy and add to any culinary dishes as you see fit.
How to Plant a Rosemary Hedge
Are you interested in adding rosemary to your landscape? Turn this edible herb into a hedge by following these simple steps:
1. Two to four weeks after the last frost date, choose a spot where the rosemary hedge will receive full sun, at least 6 to 8 hours a day, and an area that drains extremely well. Mix a 2-inch layer of sand on the top 10 to 12 inches of soil at the planting.
2. Use a tiller to break up the heavy soils. Till a 3- to 4-foot wide strip along the ground, going about 18 inches deep.
3. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost over the planting site with a rake. Mix the compost into the to 10 to 12 inches of soil with the tiller.
4. Dig a hole equal in depth and twice the width of the rosemary plant’s root ball using a shovel. Space the individual holes 12 to 14 inches apart to create a dense hedge and 16 to 18 inches apart for a lighter hedge. Scrape the bottom of each hole with a shovel to make it as flat as possible.
5. While wearing gloves to prevent scrapes and cuts to your hands, grasp the base of the rosemary plant in one hand and the bottom of its pot in the other hand. Tip the plant carefully on its side. Slide the root ball out of the pot. Grasp the bottom of the root ball with both hands and gently massage the bottom roots to slightly spread them out and stimulate growth.
6. Place the rosemary plant upright in the center of the hole and backfill the hole halfway. Tramp the soil down firmly but gently around the sides of the roots. Backfill the remaining space in the hole and tramp the soil down once more. Do not overfill the hole. Plant the rosemary at a depth equal to its previous growing depth. Repeat this process with each plant.
7. Water the soil around the newly planted rosemary bushes using a garden hose, wetting the soil thoroughly. Water the plants once per week, applying approximately one inch of water each time, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Water when the top one to two inches of soil become dry once the plants are established and begin to produce new growth
Cooking with Rosemary: Garlic and Rosemary Grilled Chicken with Scallions
This recipe and photo are courtesy of Bon Appetite Magazine
1 3.5-4 lb. chicken, backbone removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sprigs rosemary
2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
2 bunches red scallions
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon onion or chive blossoms (optional)
Prepare grill for medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place rosemary, garlic, and 1 bunch of scallions in a layer on grill.
Place chicken, skin side up, on top of aromatics. Cover grill and cook until chicken is nearly cooked through, 35-40 minutes (aromatics will be thoroughly charred).
Brush chicken with 1 Tbsp oil and place skin side down, directly onto grates (you can discard aromatics at this point). Grill until chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 10-1 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before cutting into pieces.
Meanwhile, toss remaining bunch of scallions with remaining 1 Tbsp oil on a rimmed baking sheet and grill until tender and lightly charred, about 5 minutes.
Serve chicken with grilled scallions alongside topped with onion blossoms, if desired.
Makes 4 servings